Ahmedabad is considered as one of the most commercial and most livable city in India having just 10% population that lives in slums. Gulbai Tekra is a remarkable slum nestled in between the busy Gujarat University Road and CG Road that houses almost 10,000 people who are genetically from Rajasthan but now blended with Gujrat in terms of their culture, language, lifestyle and Profession as well, at the same time preserving some basic features of Rajasthani Culture. The touch of modernity is leading this cultural transformation to another direction gradually.
In 1851-1854 when there was a deadly drought in Rajasthan, the Rajasthani Marwadis (members of Bawre community) migrated to this place (present Ahmedabad city) and they were provided a living and livelihood space by a landowning Parsi woman devotee named Gulabi Bai. Then the place was a hilly forest (Tekra). Since the forest has transformed into a very high commercial city now, the context has left a big Impact to their lifestyle. The modern city context is threatening them each and every second but they try to preserve their core culture at their best.
Gulbai Tekra is famous for is the rustic charm and natural beauty of the women. There is a saying that, their beauty is no less than Hollywood beauties and people call this community ‘Hollywood of Ahmedabad’. The term ‘Hollywood’ is often used disparagingly for the locality as well, implying that it is very different from the rest of Ahmedabad, but the people of Gulbai Tekra take this as a bully and they got a tendency to be more stuck to their own style of living and most importantly, it becomes a barrier to their social development.
This locality is also Popular for being a hub for making idols of Lord Ganesha. This is why the locality is also known as “Ganesha galli”. After migration, sculpting became the main profession of these people.
Though Gulbai Tekra is much different than any other slum/locality in terms of culture, but like other slums it is full of issues and problems such as: unhealthy environment, poor medical facilities, poor access to water, lack of sanitation system and last but not the least; poverty. Moreover, because of rapid development of the city, this community is under constant threat of the demolition of their workshops and living spaces as they were refugees. Their place and residences are not registered to government bodies and a part of their self-built homesteads was demolished previously, pushing this community towards great vulnerability and lowering their ability to survive in an urban setting as a traditional crafts people’s community.