With Uttarayan just four days away, Ahmedabad is gearing up to festivities of the seasonal celebration. Kite-flying, an intrinsic part of the rituals, has taken on the character of a popular competitive sport event. As such, the demand for open terraces in the Walled City is on a high, with those interested willing to shell out as much as Rs 3 lakhs for the two-day event towards rental of the space and an elaborate buffet spread for lunch, tea and dinner.
Reasoning the trend, Rajiv Patel, a haveli-owner in Dhal, (Pol) shared: “This will be the first year after the lockdown and the pandemic. People are looking forward to the festivities. Plus, the Pramukh Swami Centenary celebrations have just concluded and that brought to town a many thousands of NRGs from all across the globe. Most have stayed back to savour the fun of Uttarayan and hence, their willingness to pay a premium has pushed prices to three-folds of regular rates.” In 2020, the going rate for the same was 25,000 to a lakh, depending on the time frame booked for.
Kite-flying in the Walled City is known to be an experience of sorts. Homes are closely aligned, the structures are not more than two or three storeys and there is general festivity in the cold January air. The density of kites in the sky makes it more challenging with each out to cut the opponent’s manja.
For foreigners and NRGs, being part of Uttarayan is also a peek into Gujarati culture and cuisine. Kartikay Shah, a London resident currently in Ahmedabad, is among the lucky few to have restored his ancestral property in Pol’s Lakha Patel just in time for Uttarayan.
“We have planned a get-together during the two days with the larger family and friends. I also plan to rent out a part of it,” he shared.
Rupesh Salot, who owns Diwanji ni Haveli in Sankdi Sheri in Khadia, added: “The demand for terrace-on-rent is so high that we have created four slots across two days — Uttarayan and Vasi Uttarayan — to cater to maximum numbers.”
His haveli can accommodate 90 to 100 people at a time. “Because we didn’t want to turn down multiple inquiries, we will rent space to groups of 50,” he stated.
There are also the large-hearted who own huge homes in the Walled City but allow access for free to those eager to experience the kite festival in a Pol.