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    Introduction to the City

    By Padma Shri B.V. Doshi

    Cities appear and disappear only to reappear in the tableaux of Indian civilization. The historic city of Ahmedabad was founded in the surge of Islamic conquests that had swept through India. It was established in 1411 AD by a noble, Ahmed Shah, who had rebelled against his overlords in Delhi. The new rulers of Gujarat, keen on stablishing their superiority in the material realm, had undertaken a frenzied program of building activities in their new capital of Ahmedabad. Their model was the impressive Hindu architecture of the previous centuries which they wanted to outshine. The result, after one and a half centuries, was the ‘Sultanate Architecture’ of Ahmedabad, considered a high point of world architectural heritage. This architecture along with the Jain, Swaminarayan and Hindu temples of the city is a veritable safari of monumental architecture which attracts lovers of beauty from across the world to the city.

    The architecture and the design of the new town of Ahmedabad (Latt. 23* 00, Long. 72* 35’), a walled town situated on the river Sabarmati, was a continuation of the Hindu building  traditions by other means. These ‘other means’ were the new stylistic elements brought in by the new rulers. The city lies close to an older Solanki trading centre, on the 371 km long river Sabarmati and is 173 feet above the sea level. That it was the seat of a splendorous court is testified by a French traveler, Taverniere, who had visited the town in the eighteenth century describing it as “the headquarters of manufacturing, the greatest city in India, nothing inferior to Venice for rich silks and gold stuffs curiously wrought with birds and flowers.”

    A treaty with the then rulers of western India, the Poona Peshwas, brought Ahmedabad under the British rule in 1817. The British were keen on annexing Ahmedabad because of “the commanding influence which the sovereignty over the city of Ahmedabad confers on its possessor in the estimation of the country at large.” At the time of the British arrival, the medieval economy of Ahmedabad had hung on three threads: gold, silk, and cotton. The British rule of law helped flowering the strength of the Ahmedabad mahajans (trade guilds), and aided by the opium trade to China, by 1839 the town was “in a most flourishing condition and progressing rapidly.”

    Modern textile technology further oiled the Gujarati virtues in ‘reinventing’ Ahmedabad. Its booming business in textiles had given Ahmedabad the status of ‘Manchester of India’  by the First World War.The success of  modern textile industry in Ahmedabad is a puzzle for the business historian as the town was considered  unsuitable for the industry.Some of these mills survived as late as 1989. The flourishing of textile industry in Ahmedabad may be viewed as the triumph of Gujarati virtues of pragmatism, innovation and creative collaboration. It was for this town that Mahatma Gandhi had felt a predilection after his return from South Africa in 1917, staying on in the town for thirteen years and directing the historically unheard of non-violent movement against colonial power in favour of self-determination for the Indian people.

    Their successes in textiles turned the 19th century Ahmedabad mahajans in to fine institution- builders; they played important role in creating institutions like PRL, IIM, NID, ATIRA and CEPT during the middle of the 20th century. The buildings of these institutions had attracted modern masters of world architecture like Louis Kahn and Le Corbusier to the city in the 1950s .Pharmaceuticals, Construction and Textiles are the main industries of Ahmedabad of today. The town contributes 14% of the total investments in all stock exchanges of India. The Municipal Corporation was formed in 1950 (present budget: 120 million $ US, area 191 sq km, population: 4.5 millions). Sardar Patel, a great comrade of Mahatma Gandhi and the architect of modern India, was once a mayor of Ahmedabad. Sardar’s vision of Indian cities as heavens for Indian urban dwellers is the lodestar that directs the movement of this great city towards its future.

    Profile: Ahmedabad City
    Co-ordinates: 23.03° N   72.58° E
    Area: 466 (year 2006)
    Population: 55,77,940 (year 2011 Census)
    Density: 11,948 /
    Literacy Rate: 89.60 %
    Average Annual Rainfall: 782 mm
    Popularly known as: Amdavad
    STD Code: 079

    The city of Ahmedabad, now the seventh largest metropolis in India and the largest in the state of Gujarat, was founded in 1411 AD as a walled city on the eastern bank of the river Sabarmati. Historically Ahmedabad has been one of the most important centers of trade and commerce in western India. It is also a major industrial and financial city contributing about 14% of the total investments in all stock exchanges in India and 60% of the total productivity of the state. It is the home of several scientific and educational institutions of national, regional and global importance. The city has a great architectural tradition reflected in many exquisite monuments, temples and modern buildings.

    Ahmedabad's Strengths

    • Ahmedabad GDP pegged at 64 billion USD in 2012.
    • 3rd fastest growing city as per the Forbes magazine 2010.
    • A Times of India survey ranks Ahmedabad City as India's Best City live-in in terms of infrastructure.
    • Major base of trade, commerce and industry and engine of industrial and financial growth of the state.
    • Ahmedabad will be the First Indian City to receive UNESCO's World Heritage City Status- Tentative Application accepted by UNESCO for the same.
    • Quality Water, Sanitation, and Sewerage Services
    • Quality Public Transport System
    • Financially well managed City Government
    • Inclusive city that accommodates the urban poor with sensitivity.
    • Ecologically friendly & Energy efficient
    • Compact city with short travelling distances.
    • Capitalizing on strong economic drivers to create growth and jobs.