Ahmedabad’s heritage has been a point of much discussion in recent years, partly due to the city receiving the UNESCO World Heritage City tag in 2017. Ahmedabad’s heritage has many dimensions representing both the tangible and intangible segments. On the World Heritage Day we explore the heritage aspects of Ahmedabad, through the lens of its industrial…
608 years ago, Ahmedabad began its journey towards becoming the urban hub of culture it is today. And the city’s recent status as a UNESCO World Heritage City has put it on the map. So what is the story of the city’s heritage today? What is working? What is not? Let’s go over the story…
The old walled city in Ahmedabad, in Gujarat, western India, is a labyrinth of lanes and alleys lined with exquisite traditional houses and courtyards Escape the muck, paws and hooves of the old city by cruising the streets in a vintage pink Chrysler. And how about eating lunch surrounded by tombs?
A large pedestrian space within the Bhadra Plaza has been turned into a pay-and-park facility by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC).
The move comes after the civic body made several attempts to remove encroachments and illegal vendors from the plaza complex — which is part of the Unesco World Heritage core area. “Only a small portion of the plaza is parking,” said a senior AMC official who is with the central zone office.
“No matter how many times we removed these vendors, the came back again,” he said. The plaza, which was meant to be for pedestrians, had turned into large hawkers’ zone. According to the civic body, the strategy works as most of the plaza is cleared and there is optimum utilization of space.
After the AMC installed banners with parking charges, there was resentment among local residents. K.A Mansoori, a street vendor, said: “The AMC has forcefully removed shops which has affected the livelihoods of many poor people who were employed by the vendors.” He said there is parking space in the zilla panchayat building and Relief Road.
When Ahmed Shah I laid the foundations of his capital way back on 26 February, 1411, little did he know his legacy would earn the status of a World Heritage City six hundred years on. Nineteen years old at the time, Ahmed Shah I was the third Sultan of the Gujarat Sultanate (1407 – 1573). In July 2017, his city Ahmedabad beat Delhi, Mumbai, and Varanasi in the bid to become India’s first, and as of now only, UNESCO designated city.
There was much hullaballoo following this announcement. Mainly because it raised Ahmedabad to the ranks of Cairo, Edinburgh, and Rome in the global arena. These were cities which UNESCO believes have cultural, historic or scientific significance and are important for humanity as a whole and, thus, warrant protection.
What did Ahmedabad have that the other three, more hyped about, Indian cities did not. It is a question many still ask. It is a question which gnawed at me too, triggering a stay plonk in the heart of the historical quarter last winter.
As I explored the city, the answers slowly revealed themselves. First shyly, hesitantly.
The 15th-century walled city of Ahmadabad is celebrated for its mosques, tombs, and temples from the sultanate period.
Ahmadabad is both a living, modern city and a splendid relic of the past.
India’s famous walled city on the bank of the Sabarmati river is the nation’s first UNESCO World Heritage city. Built in the early 15th century by Sultan Ahmad Shah of the Gujarat kingdom, legend has it that the sultan chose the location at the site of his capital city after he witnessed the unusual spectacle of a hare chasing a dog along the riverbank and took it as an omen.
The city was conquered in 1573 by the Mughals, who further decorated it with lush gardens. Some six decades later, Ahmadabad was struck by famine, marking the beginning of the end of its golden age. After a series of conquests throughout the centuries, it eventually became a center of Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent movement for Indian independence. Visitors can still make a pilgrimage to the Gandhi Ashram built on the riverbank on the outskirts of the city.
We all know that Ahmedabad has a rich heritage. We even have the glory of becoming the first world heritage city of India. We take pride in our pols, step wells, havelis and monuments like Sidi Saiyeed ni Jali, Sarkhej Roza, Bhadra, Badshah no Haziro, Rani no Haziro among others.
But, what are we doing to preserve it. How do we ensure that our past is preserved, conserved and our monuments well-maintained even as we move towards millennium development goals and ensuring world class infrastructure in the smart city?
If you are looking for the answers then attend this guest lecture by Prof. Amareswar Galla, one of the biggest names in Heritage Management, on Thursday.
Prof Galla, a JNU alumnus, who is the executive director of International Institute for the Inclusive Museum, Australia would deliver a talk on ‘Living Heritage Matters’ at Anant National University at 4 pm on Thursday.
It’s been nine months since the 535.7 hectares consisting of 2,696 properties in Ahmedabad’s Walled City area was nominated by Unesco as a World Heritage Site.
The tag came with enormous responsibility of putting in place a protection and conservation management plan. But increasingly, it is now being felt that unless there is citizen’s participation the implementation of these plans will turn out to be difficult.
In July last year, International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), Unesco’s think tank, recommended a detailed ‘to do’ list to the state government. The report mentioned many challenges facing the Walled City which included increasing development pressures like commercial development and traffic congestion, which were causing original inhabitants to move out of the area.
The ICOMOS report also said that increasingly, traditional pol houses were rented for commercial purposes or to newcomers who do not have the same bonds with the historic fabric. This, according to ICOMOS was causing changes to the community structures and the rapid deterioration of the historic houses, sometimes resulting in the wilful demolition of historic architectural or decorative elements.
The beauty of the living museum — the Walled City of Ahmedabad — and many of its six century old ASI protected monuments is breathtaking, but the significance of old Ahmedabad recognized by Unesco as India’s first World Heritage Site — lies beyond the physical beauty of its architectural heritage. It lies in its historical symbolism of religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
On Saturday, when Gujarat governor O P Kohli launches the Times Passion Trail from Lal Darwaza, the 47 participants who will be part of this trail from all walks of life will engage in a visual dialogue with Ahmedabad’s history. Chief secretary J N Singh, principal secretary, S J Haider, MD Gujarat tourism Jenu Devan, principal secretary industries and mines, Manoj Das, will be among dignitaries who will be present to launch the Times Passion Trail.
It is here, within these walls that Mahatma Gandhi conducted his experiments of Satyagraha and non-violence.
India, as we know it, is a myriad of innumerable traditions and cultures that somehow blend well and coexist peacefully. With every region having its own unique culture, exploring a country like India can be extremely fascinating. Every state of the country is born from a blend of influences from many past rulers.
These powerful rulers built numerous monuments and structures, which now act as a sign of commemorating their existence. Since several dynasties ruled in India, the country is filled with heritage sites that were built by different empires. Here are the top 10 heritage destinations that you must visit to get an idea of Indian history.
Agra, the city best known worldwide for the magnificent Taj Mahal, is home to more than just this wonder of the world.
If I mention beautiful Dargahs, quaint mosques, museums, lovely havelis and a market serving mouthwatering nihari, kulcha and tandoori chicken, you’ll think that I am talking about Delhi. But no, this is not the Capital of India but the capital of Gujarat, Ahmedabad. Recently declared the first Indian World Heritage City by UNESCO, Ahmedabad holds everything that hides in Delhi along with bustling night markets, culinary culture and scattered monuments in every corner of the city Ahmedabad has something that Delhi lacks and it is the safety that makes traveling here an extraordinary affair.
Are you planning to take a trip down the capital of Garba, Fafda-Jalebi and Kites? Here is how you should plan your trip.
Explore the well-maintained heritage trail of the city.
Like Delhi, Ahmedabad evolved into a city of strategic importance during the reign of Sultan Ahmed Shah.