Introduction to the City
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 by Sultan Ahmed Shah; six hundred years later, Ahmedabad is a city at the intersection of the old and the new. While the fortification of the original walled city crumbled long ago, divisions between its varied groups come to the fore, violently pulling them apart. Centuries-old dargahs and havelis stand alongside high-rises and glitzy shopping malls inhabited by an affluent class rooted in tradition. Once known for its textile mills, it is now one of the fastest developing cities.
The city is divided by the Sabarmati River into two physically distinct eastern and western regions. The east bank of the river houses the old city, which includes the central town of Bhadra. This part of Ahmedabad is characterised by packed bazaars, the pol system of closely clustered buildings, and numerous places of worship. The western part of the city houses educational institutions, modern buildings, residential areas, shopping malls, multiplexes, and new business districts centered around roads such as Ashram Road, C. G. Road, and Sarkhej-Gandhinagar Highway. The local population in the city mostly converse in Gujarati, but with its high literacy rate, most people speak fluent Hindi and English.
Historically, Ahmedabad has been one of western India's most important centers of trade and commerce. During the Mughal reign, the city established itself as the home of a developing textile industry. It became one of the Empire's thriving centers of trade, mainly in textiles, which were exported as far as Europe, which earned it the nickname "Manchester of the East."
The settlement architecture of Ahmadabad represents a strong sense of the character of its conception through domestic buildings. The wooden architecture so prominently preferred is unique to the city. The entire settlement form is very 'organic' in its function, considering its climatic response for year-round comforts for the inhabitants.
The construction of the fort, the three gates at the end of the Maidan-e-Shahi, and the Jama Masjid, with a large maidan on its north and south, were the first acts of Sultan Ahmed Shah to establish this Islamic town.
After independence, modern buildings appeared in the city designed by Louis Kahn, Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, B. V. Doshi, and Christopher Charles Benninger. These buildings vary from educational institutes to Memorial halls and Mills. Kankaria lake, one of the biggest lakes in Ahmedabad, was built in 1451 A.D.; in 2010, 34 other lakes were planned in and around Ahmedabad. One of the planned lakes includes Vastrapur lake in the western part of Ahmedabad, now a popular leisure spot for citizens.
Ahmedabad enjoys a thriving cultural tradition, being the center of Gujarati cultural activities and diverse practices of different ethnic and religious communities. Popular celebrations and observances include Uttarayan – an annual kite-flying day on 14 January. The nine nights of Navratri are celebrated with people performing Garba – the folk dance of Gujarat. Other festivals, such as Deepavali, Holi, Eid ul-Fitr, and Christmas, are celebrated with equal enthusiasm. The annual Rath Yatra procession on the Ashadh-sud-bij date of the Hindu calendar and the procession of Tajia during the Muslim holy month of Muharram are integral parts of the city’s composite culture.
A significant industrial city long reputed for its textile industry and today more so for its chemical, petroleum, international trade & I.T. industries. Ahmedabad is also known for its financial services industry. The city is well connected internally and with other cities and states. Ever growing, the city's public transport is constantly being upgraded with BRTS service, metro train, railway station, and Airport.
Ahmedabad was selected among the first 20 Smart Cities in India under the Smart Cities Mission of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. Govt. of India announced on 28-Jan-2016. Despite being the 2nd largest city on the list, Ahmedabad stands 6th in rank in the country for its Smart City Plan.
Overall, along with being rooted in culture and traditions, Ahmedabad is soaring high in growth and development, home to several national, regional, and global scientific and educational institutions. The city's architecture reflects its tradition with many exquisite monuments, temples, and modern buildings.