India finally got her first World Heritage City and how. On July 8, 2017, the city of Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat was declared a World Heritage City — making history of sorts. In its hurtle to the top, it beat heritage heavyweights Mumbai and Delhi. But it took one hell of a journey over four years before it got to earn its rightful place.
In 2013, after months of speculation, the World Heritage Expert Committee established by the Culture Ministry gave a clean chit to the final dossiers of Delhi and Mumbai for UNESCO’s World Heritage Status. The dossiers were dispatched to UNESCO headquarters for a completion check. Once they got the clearance, the ministry would decide which should be India’s official nomination in cultural category to be submitted by January 2014.
Both the cities went into a PR overdrive to push for the coveted status.
Any celebration of Ahmedabad’s heritage as an icon of peace and unity (of Hindu, Muslim and Jain traditions) must be understood in light of the city’s profound anti-Dalit and anti-Muslim violence.
In July 2017, in recognition of its ‘universal value’, Ahmedabad became the first Indian city to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage City. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani and citizens alike wasted no time in expressing their pride and joy. The mainstream media has echoed their justification of the syncretic Jain, Islamic and Hindu heritage of the pols (neighbourhoods) in the walled city, as well as the proximate connection to Gandhian politics as accounting for Ahmedabad’s universal value.
Ahmedabad’s inclusion is part of UNESCO’s race to rectify its racism, since a vast majority of UNESCO heritage sites are in Europe.
Described as a pretty mole on earth’s face by a 15th century poet, Ahmedabad is making waves with it’s latest status update.
“Thrilled to announce! Ahmedabad has just been declared India’s first World Heritage city by UNESCO,” tweeted Ruchira Kamboj, India’s permanent representative to the United Nations cultural agency, United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
On July 8, 2017, Ahmedabad became the first Indian city to be declared as a World Heritage City. Fifteenth century poet, Ulvi Shiraz described Ahmedabad as a pretty mole on earth’s face. In the 17th century, when European traveller Gemelli Careri came to the city, he compared it to Venice. In the 19th century, travellers Edwin Arnold and Henry George Briggs felt that the city was like a muse for poets and painters.
“The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) standing committee has come up with a resolution for the formation of an autonomous SPV, Ahmedabad City Heritage Management Society, which will be headed by the mayor,” Kumar told the media after inaugurating an exhibition by CEPT University on Tuesday.
Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner Mukesh Kumar on Tuesday said an autonomous special-purpose vehicle (SPV) would be set up to maintain the buildings in the walled city, which is India’s first UNESCO World Heritage City. “The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) standing committee has come up with a resolution for the formation of an autonomous SPV, Ahmedabad City Heritage Management Society, which will be headed by the mayor,” Kumar told the media after inaugurating an exhibition by CEPT University on Tuesday as part of the World Heritage Week.
While we celebrate the inclusion of Ahmedabad in the World Heritage Site list, we mourn the dilution of the AMASR Act, which protects monuments across India.
Earliar this month, UNESCO declared Ahmedabad as a World Heritage city, making it the first such in India. While its addition to a distinguished list marked by other heritage sites like Bath, Edinburgh and Cairo, was being celebrated, an email petition titled Save Our Heritage for Future Generations was doing the rounds of the net. It was to oppose the proposed dilution of the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (AMASR) 1958 that will now allow “public works” to be built within what was a 100 m buffer of prohibited area, as per the notification of 1992 and made into Act in 2010, around all ASI protected monuments. These monuments amount to about 3,686 in number.
A historical city in India, notorious for bloody communal riots until only a few years ago, has finally covered itself with glory.
Founded by Mughal emperor Ahmad Shah on the banks of the Sabarmati river in 1411, the 5.5-square-kilometre walled city of Ahmedabad dotted with some 2,600 heritage sites in its 500-odd narrow labyrinthine lanes and bylanes has just been accorded the status of a world heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Though Ahmedabad, the largest city in Prime Minister’s home state of Gujarat, witnessed violent Hindu-Muslim clashes in 2002 when Narendra Modi himself was the chief minister, it is not for nothing that the Paris-based agency has bestowed the rare honor on this former Manchester of the East.
This is a chance to look at the various challenges facing old cities in India and evaluate if heritage conservation and development can go hand-in-hand.
On Saturday, the 600-year-old walled city of Ahmedabad was recognised by UNESCO as a world heritage site, making it the first Indian city to earn that tag. The old city or the walled city of Ahmedabad is spread across 5.35 sq km and is home to havelis, old markets, historic housing clusters and shrines.
There is much to celebrate about the UNESCO tag. For one, expanding the heritage conservation discourse to cities rather than monuments alone brings hope that more attention will be directed to the infrastructure problems faced by these cities. This is good news for many other historic Indian cities, such as Varanasi, Agra, Lucknow, Hyderabad or Madurai as well.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has inscribed 20 new cultural sites to the World Heritage list, during its 41st conference in Krakow, Poland. The list includes new sites, extensions of already included sites, and entire cities. The committee has also made modifications to the List of World Heritage in Danger by adding two more sites to the list and removing one. The purpose of that list is to notify the global community of conditions which threaten some World Heritage Sites and encourage corrective actions.
The cities added to the World Heritage List in this round include the Walled City of Ahmedabad which was founded in the 15th century by Sultan Ahmed Shah to be the capital of the Gujarat Sultanate. The Indian city was, also, home for Mahatma Gandhi between 1917 and 1930.