Ahmedabad Ni Gufa
One of the Architectural Marvels of the most sought after City of Gujarat, Ahmedabad is Amdavad ni Gufa. It is also called Hussain-Doshi Gufa. It is an underground art gallery that depicts the works of the famous Indian painter Maqbool Fida Husain and is located on the campus of the Centre for Environmental Planning & Technology in Ahmedabad. Designed by the famous architect Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi and depicts the artworks of M.F. Hussain, the art gallery has been named after the two eminent personalities, Hussain and Doshi.
Yet the gallery is more popularly known as Amdavad ni Gufa, where Gufa means Cave as the structure of the place resembles a cave. This structure has been constructed using simple hand tools and that too by unskilled workers mostly the tribes of that place.
Excerpt from an Interview with Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi:
As per an interview conducted with the Architect of the ‘Gufa’, Mr. Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi or B.V Doshi; he said, “It was a challenge for me and MF Hussain to create what we didn’t know. I decided to find a magical building I had never thought of. I made a myth — if you have a myth, there is magic, you get enchanted and ask why this is so. I experimented with several models and finally decided that it had to be like soap bubbles, the volume has to be there like a basket of fruits. If you walk inside, you get a sense of the ‘Gufa’. We built a Ferro-cement lightweight structure, which can only be built by the tribes because it is a thin layer covering a chicken wire mesh, and then clad it with China mosaic. It gave the impression of walking on the sea shore. Rounded buried shapes were available inside; the junction was supported by columns, which come in the form of forests that take varied shapes. A regular mason couldn’t have built this, so we worked with tribes.”
The art gallery has been built on the basis of computer aided designs. For the art lovers, Hussain Doshi Gufa is a real feast for eyes!!
Structure and Construction:
The cave-like underground structure has a roof made of multiple interconnected domes, covered with a mosaic of tiles. On the inside, irregular tree-like columns support the domes. The form of roof shells is channelized by computer designs and the structure, built in Ferro-cement, is in the form of skeletal skin and chicken wire mesh, packed on each side by layers of cement.
The domes, as told by B.V. Doshi, are inspired by soap bubbles. The China mosaic tiles on the roof are similar to those found on the roofs of the Jain temples at Girnar, and the mosaic snake is as per Hindu mythology.
As per the sources, the Buddhist caves of Ajanta and Ellora inspired B.V. Doshi to design the interiors of the gallery cum cave with circles and ellipses. When we look at Husain’s wall paintings, they seem to be inspired by Paleolithic cave art.
Another noteworthy element of the Amdavad Ni Gufa is the columns of the cave. The domes are supported by irregularly shaped inclined columns, similar to those found in natural caves (columns similar to those found at Stonehenge).
The natural light brightens up the caves, light arrives through proboscis or snouts or nozzles, creating spots of light on the floor which move around as the daylight progresses, premeditated to create a mystic atmosphere.
The Artwork Inside the Cave:
M.F. Hussain has used the cave’s walls as a canvas; he painted them with bold strokes and bright colors. His artworks depict human figures and patterns of animals, including his famous horse figures. He also decorated features such as doors and even air conditioners.
The figures were designed to give the impression of primitive cave paintings in a modern environment. Hussain also placed a few metal sculptures of human figures between the inclining columns. His largest work called the ‘Sheshnag’ or the divine serpent is also placed in the gallery. It stretches over a length of 100 feet.
You can visit the Amdavad Ni Gufa on Monday to Thursday and on Sundays as it remains closed o Fridays; the timing is from 4:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
The contemporary architecture of the cave makes it a unique landmark at Ahmedabad. Tourists from across the globe visit the Amdavad Ni Gufa to get mesmerized by the unique amalgamation of architecture and art. It also attracts youth because of its unique art as well as it has a café called the ‘Zen Café’. It is indeed a beautiful sight to visit in Ahmedabad.