Ahmedabad is the largest city and former capital of the western Indian state of Gujarat. It is the administrative headquarters of the Ahmedabad district and the seat of the Gujarat High Court. With a population of more than 5.8 million and an extended population of 6.3 million, it is the sixth-largest city and seventh-largest metropolitan area of India. It is also ranked third in Forbes’s list of fastest growing cities of the decade. Ahmedabad is located on the banks of the River Sabarmati, 30 km (19 mi) from the state capital Gandhinagar.
Ahmedabad has emerged as an important economic and industrial hub in India. It is the second-largest producer of cotton in India, and its stock exchange is the country’s second oldest. Cricket is a popular sport in Ahmedabad, which houses the 54,000-seat Sardar Patel Stadium. The effects of liberalization of the Indian economy have energized the city’s economy towards tertiary-sector activities like commerce, communication and construction activities. Ahmedabad’s population is growing, which has resulted in an increase in the construction and housing industries.
In 2012, The Times of India chose Ahmedabad as the best city to live in in India. As of 2014 Ahmedabad’s estimated gross domestic product was $64 billion.
Couture & History
The area around Ahmedabad has been inhabited since the 11th century, when it was known as Ashaval (or Ashapalli). At that time, Karandev I, the Solanki ruler of Anhilwara (modern Patan), waged a successful war against the Bhil king of Ashaval, and established a city called Karnavati on the banks of the Sabarmati. Solanki rule lasted until the 13th century, when Gujarat came under the control of the Vaghela dynasty of Dholka. Gujarat subsequently came under the control of the Delhi Sultanate in the 14th century. However, by the earlier 15th century, the local governor Zafar Khan Muzaffar established his independence from the Delhi Sultanate and crowned himself Sultan of Gujarat as Muzaffar Shah I, thereby founding the Muzaffarid dynasty. This area finally came under the control of his grandson Sultan Ahmed Shah in 1411 A.D. who while at the banks of Sabarmati liked the forested area for a new capital city and laid the foundation of a new walled city near Karnavati and named it Ahmedabad after the four saints in the area by the name Ahmed.
In 1487, Mahmud Begada, the grandson of Ahmed Shah, fortified the city with an outer wall 10 km (6.2 mi) in circumference and consisting of twelve gates, 189 bastions and over 6,000 battlements. In 1535 Humayun briefly occupied Ahmedabad after capturing Champaner when the ruler of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah, fled to Diu. Ahmedabad was then reoccupied by the Muzaffarid dynasty until 1573 when Gujarat was conquered by the Mughal emperor Akbar. During the Mughal reign, Ahmedabad became one of the Empire’s thriving centres of trade, mainly in textiles, which were exported as far as Europe. The Mughal ruler Shahjahan spent the prime of his life in the city, sponsoring the construction of the Moti Shahi Mahal in Shahibaug. The Deccan Famine of 1630–32 affected the city, as did famines in 1650 and 1686. Ahmedabad remained the provincial headquarters of the Mughals until 1758, when they surrendered the city to the Marathas.
During the period of Maratha Empire governance, the city became the centre of a conflict between two Maratha clans; the Peshwa of Poona and the Gaekwad of Baroda. In 1780, during the First Anglo-Maratha War, a British force under James Hartley stormed and captured Ahmedabad, but it was handed back to the Marathas at the end of the war. The British East India Company took over the city in 1818 during the Third Anglo-Maratha War. A military cantonment was established in 1824 and a municipal government in 1858. Incorporated into the Bombay Presidency during British rule, Ahmedabad became one of the most important cities in the Gujarat region. In 1864, a railway link between Ahmedabad and Mumbai (then Bombay) was established by the Bombay, Baroda, and Central India Railway (BB&CI), enabling traffic and trade between northern and southern India via the city. Over time, the city established itself as the home of a developing textile industry, which earned it the nickname “Manchester of the East”.The Indian independence movement developed roots in the city when Mahatma Gandhi established two ashrams – the Kochrab Ashram near Paldi in 1915 and the Satyagraha Ashram (now Sabarmati Ashram) on the banks of the Sabarmati in 1917 – which would become centres of nationalist activities. During the mass protests against the Rowlatt Act in 1919, textile workers burned down 51 government buildings across the city in protest at a British attempt to extend wartime regulations after the First World War. In the 1920s, textile workers and teachers went on strike, demanding civil rights and better pay and working conditions. In 1930, Gandhi initiated the Salt Satyagraha from Ahmedabad by embarking from his ashram on the Dandi Salt March. The large numbers of people who took to the streets in peaceful protests, and again in 1942 during the Quit India Movement rendered the city’s administration and economic institutions inoperative in the early 1930s. Following independence and the partition of India in 1947, the city was scarred by the intense communal violence that broke out between Hindus and Muslims in 1947, Ahmedabad was the focus for settlement by Hindu migrants from Pakistan, who expanded the city’s population and transformed its demographics and economy.
By 1960, Ahmedabad had become a metropolis with a population of slightly under half a million people, with classical and colonial European-style buildings lining the city’s thoroughfares. It was chosen as the capital of Gujarat state after the partition of the State of Bombay on 1 May 1960. During this period, a large number of educational and research institutions were founded in the city, making it a centre of higher education, science and technology. Ahmedabad’s economic base became more diverse with the establishment of heavy and chemical industry during the same period. At that time the city was seen as an economic role model around the world. Many countries sought to emulate India’s economic planning strategy and one of them, South Korea, copied the city’s second “Five-Year Plan” and the World Financial Center in Seoul is designed and modelled after Ahmedabad. Ahmedabad had both a municipal corporation and the Ahmedabad Divisional Council in the 1960s, which developed schools, colleges, roads, municipal gardens, and parks. The Ahmedabad Divisional Council had working committees for education, roads, and residential development and planning.
In the late 1970s, the capital shifted to the newly built, well planned city of Gandhinagr. This marked the start of a long period of decline in the city, marked by a lack of development. The 1974 Nav Nirman agitation – a protest against a 20% hike in the hostel food fees at the L.D. College of Engineering in Ahmedabad – snowballed into a movement to remove Chimanbhai Patel, then chief minister of Gujarat. In the 1980s, a reservation policy was introduced in the country, which led to anti-reservation protests in 1981 and 1985. The protests witnessed violent clashes between people belonging to various castes. The city suffered some of the impact of the 2001 Gujarat earthquake; up to 50 multi-storey buildings collapsed, killing 752 people and causing much damage. The following year, a three-day period of violence between Hindus and Muslims in the western Indian state of Gujarat, known as the 2002 Gujarat riots, spread to Ahmedabad; refugee camps were set up around the city.
The 2008 Ahmedabad bombings, a series of seventeen bomb blasts, killed and injured several people. Militant group Harkat-ul-Jihad claimed responsibility for the attacks. Ahmedabad observes a wide range of festivals. Popular celebrations and observances include Uttarayan, an annual kite-flying day on 14 and 15 January. Nine nights of Navratri are celebrated with people performing Garba, the most popular folk dance of Gujarat, at venues across the city. The festival of lights, Deepavali, is celebrated with the lighting of lamps in every house, decorating the floors with rangoli, and the lighting of firecrackers. Other religious festivals such as Holi, Ganesh Chaturthi, Gudi Padwa, Eid ul-Fitr and Christmas are celebrated. The annual Rath Yatra procession on the Ashadh-sud-bij date of the Hindu calendar at the Jagannath Temple and the procession of Tajia during the Muslim holy month of Muharram are important events.
One of the most popular forms of meal in Ahmedabad is a typical Gujarati thali which was first served commercially by Chandvilas Hotel in 1900.It consists of roti, dal, rice and shaak (cooked vegetables, sometimes with curry), with accompaniments of pickles and roasted papads. Beverages include buttermilk and tea; sweet dishes include laddoo, mango, and vedhmi. Dhoklas, theplas and dhebras are also very popular dishes in Ahmedabad.
There are many restaurants, which serve a wide array of Indian and international cuisines. Most of the food outlets serve only vegetarian food, as a strong tradition of vegetarianism is maintained by the city’s Jain and Hindu communities.The first all-vegetarian Pizza Hut in the world opened in Ahmedabad. KFC has a separate staff uniform for serving vegetarian items and prepares vegetarian food in a separate kitchen, as does McDonald’s. Ahmedabad has a quite a few restaurants serving typical Mughlai non-vegetarian food in older areas like Bhatiyar Gali, Kalupur and Jamalpur.
Manek Chowk is an open square near the centre of the city that functions as a vegetable market in the morning and a jewellery market in the afternoon. However, it is better known for its food stalls in the evening, which sell local street food. It is named after the Hindu saint Baba Maneknath. Parts of Ahmedabad are known for their folk art. The artisans of Rangeela pol make tie-dyed bandhinis, whil the cobbler shops of Madhupura sell traditional mojdi (also known as mojri) footwear. Idols of Ganesha and other religious icons are made in huge numbers in the Gulbai Tekra area. The shops at the Law Garden sell mirror work handicraft.
Three main literary institutions were established in Ahmedabad for the promotion of Gujarati literature: Gujarat Vidhya Sabha, Gujarati Sahitya Parishad and Gujarat Sahitya Sabha. Saptak School of Music festival is held in the first week of the new year. This event was inaugurated by Ravi Shankar.
The Sanskar Kendra, one of the several buildings in Ahmedabad designed by Le Corbusier, is a city museum depicting its history, art, culture and architecture. The Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya and the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Memorial have permanent displays of photographs, documents and other articles relating to Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel. The Calico Museum of Textiles has a large collection of Indian and international fabrics, garments and textiles. The Hazrat Pir Mohammad Shah Library has a collection of rare original manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Sindhi and Turkish. There is Vechaar Utensils Museum which has of stainless steel, glass, brass, copper, bronze, zinc and German silver tools.
Shreyas Foundation has four museums on the same campus. Shreyas Folk Museum (Lokayatan Museum) has art forms and artefacts from communities of Gujarat. Kalpana Mangaldas Children’s Museum has a collection of toys, puppets, dance and drama costumes, coins and a repository of recorded music from traditional shows from all over the world. Kahani houses photographs of fairs and festivals of Gujarat. Sangeeta Vadyakhand is a gallery of musical instruments from India and other countries.