History and Architecture
Teen Darwaza or the Triple Gateway is almost as old as the city of Ahmedabad. Teen Darwaza is a triple-arched gateway, situated in the city of Ahmedabad. This Darwaza was an egress from Bhadra Fort to the east side. There is a large closure led by the gateway with three arches that go along the sky. This enclosure forms the outer courtyard of the fort which was called Maidan Shah in past. It also included a fountain at the center. The 3 openings are having paths passing through with the central path being 17 feet wide and each of the two sides 13 feet wide. The Darwaza has decorated supporting structures that lie between the arches. The arch is 25 feet high with the top roofed formally.
As stated the roof was primarily there but was thrown open during repairs in 1877. Currently, the area surrounding the gateway is a central market for cloth and other commodities.
This heritage monument is an architectural site that holds key importance. Constructed by the founder of Ahmedabad in 1411 AD, the gateway led to the Royal Square ( Maidan Shahi ). The structure speaks for itself with grand and impressive ornamentation being one of the sought after places in Ahmedabad.
Folklore of The Eternal Lamp
A lamp of peace burns here, for harmony. It is said that 600 years ago, Khwaja Siddiqui, a guard at Teen Darwaza had stopped Goddess Lakshmi from leaving the city at night. Since the watchman was fully aware that if the Goddess left, the city will fall in despair, he generously told her that she needed to have a permission from the sultan to leave the city and that he would get it for her. The goddess promised that she will stay till his return. But the guard requested the Sultan to behead him. The guard sacrificed his life because he wanted her to stay in the city. Goddess keeping her word never left the city. So the lamp burns in his memory.
‘GIVE US RS 100 DAILY, WE PROMISE TO KEEP AKHAND JYOT BURNING’
For over 55 years now, Jabbar Mirza, a Mujawar (caretaker) has been pouring oil into the lamp and changing the cotton wicks to ensure the flame never goes out. It is certainly not his job, but he considers it his duty to keep the lamp burning to ensure the city remains prosperous. But now, the ailing old man, who is barely able to walk, says it is getting increasingly difficult for him to carry out the customary practice. Mirza, who has not been keeping well for a long time now, is worried about who will guard the lamp after his death.
He laments that his sons say they will do it only if they get monetary help from the government. Mirza’s son Firoz, a daily wager, saysthat it is getting difficult to afford the oil and the flowers, but they do not want to break the tradition that means so much to his father. In his absence, his mother agrees to continue doing what he did, but they say it will be very generous if they are provided with some help from the government for the least possible cost of oil and flowers.
The mujawar raised his five children out of the alms offered by people who come to Teen Darwaza to pay their obeisance to the lamp. Sometimes worshippers donate 500 gm packets of oil to him. But mostly, it is either his wife or the sons who buy the oil cans. Recently, Mirza underwent a knee operation. During the time he was in the hospital, it was his wife Zainat Bibi who fed oil to the lamp. However, once he was discharged, he went back to Teen Darwaza. Unmindful of the heavy traffic surrounding him, he now rests on a cot and gets up only to pour oil and change the wick. Mirza’s family stays at Patwa Sheri in Kalupur.
His wife says, “My husband has kept the akhand jyot, which is an integral part of the city’s heritage, alive for all these years, but no one values him. We had to borrow money from relatives for his operation. He still looks after the lamp like a father looks after his child, not expecting anything in return. But my sons are miffed at the callousness of the government. They will allow me to continue the tradition only if the authorities bear the expenses of the oil and flowers.”
In 1812, the city’s leading official told the Maratha ruler Fateh Singh Gwekwad about the absence of rights for women in the city. As a result, a marble plaque inscribed in Devanagari surrounded by sun and moon images was placed on the eastern side of the gate announcing the ruler’s command:
Let the daughter get her due share of property without any hitch. So is Lord Vishwanath’s command. If you defy, the Hindu will have to answer to Mahadev and the Mussalman will have to explain to Allah or Rasool.
There is a English translation on a subsequent plaque to the far corner of the left arch.
Teen Darwaza as a part of modern Ahmedabad today
Traders around this area thank Lakshmi for their riches. Many have moved their shops to newer areas of western Ahmedabad. But they have kept their old shops too.
The market in the area has a lot to offer ranging from traditional wear to artistic collectibles. Once in a while, if you are lucky there are old valuable items like books and watch for sale in the area.
Ahmedabad has a connection to itself despite its given diversity. The city dates long way back and the heritage and traditional work by craftsmen is its speciality. Teen Darwaza has been a place of cultural importance and has been center of attraction for social activities. Experience the beauty of the site at its best by planning a visit on an off-day.