City History

The city of Ahmedabad was called Karnavati earlier; after a legendary win by King Karandev – 1, the Solanki Ruler who won against Bhil kind Ashapall or Ashaval and established a city called “Karnavati” on the banks of the river Sabarmati. The rule of Solanki King Karandev lasted until the thirteenth century, after which Gujarat came under the control of the Vaghela dynasty of Dwarka. At the end of the thirteenth century, Gujarat was conquered by the Sultanate of Delhi.

Ahmedabad was initially built as an open and spacious city within the immediate vicinity of Ashaval, east of river Sabarmati. It then comprised of a smaller area now known as the citadel of Bhadra or the Bhadra Fort. In 1487, the city was planned according to the ancient Indo-Aryan tradition of a royal capital with main roads, thoroughfares, and subsidiary roads by Mahmud Begada, the grandson of Ahmed Shah. He fortified the city with an outer wall 10 km (6 miles) in circumference and consisting of twelve gates, 189 bastions, and over 6,000 battlements.

Under the rule of the sultans of Gujarat, the city of Ahmedabad went on expanding in all directions with additions of new localities and suburbs on both sides of the river and gradually developed into a well-built city with well-laid-out residential and marketing areas and beautified by palaces, mansions, mausoleums and mosques of reservoirs (lakes) and gardens erected by the noblemen of the sultans and wealthy merchants of the capital.

There was a significant disorder in the country from 1737 to 1753, as the rulers after Aurangzeb were weak and therefore led to a joint rule by Mughal Viceroy and the Peshwa rulers over Ahmedabad. In 1753 the combined armies of Raghunath Rao and Damaji Gaeakwad overtook the citadel and ended Mughal rule at Ahmedabad.

During the Maratha regime, Ahmedabad was divided into two halves; Peshwas ruled one part and the other by the Gaekwads, the jurisdiction exercised by the Peshwa being greater; the condition of Ahmedabad deteriorated during the 64-year-long Maratha rule with a constant struggle between the Peshwas and the Gaekwads who instilled retrograde and oppressive policies. During this period of decline and insecurity that characterized 64 years of Maratha rule, suburbs were deserted places, mansions were in a ruinous state, roads were in a hopeless state of disrepair, and the fort wall that enclosed the city had fallen off at many places.

Ahmedabad was ushered into an era of orderly development and progress from 1818 when the British East India Company took over the city as a part o the conquest of India. In 1824, a military cantonment was established in Ahmedabad. A municipal committee was formed in 1834, and regular Municipal administration was established in 1858. In 1864, a railway link between Ahmedabad and Mumbai (then Bombay) was founded by the Bombay, Baroda, and Central India Railway (BB&CI), making Ahmedabad a critical junction in the traffic and trade between northern and southern India. Many people migrated from rural areas to work in textile mills, establishing a robust industry.

Ahmedabad played an outstanding role in the country’s struggle for freedom. The Indian independence movement developed strong roots in the city when, in 1915, Mahatma Gandhi established two ashrams, the Kochrab Ashram near Paldi in 1915 and the Satyagraha Ashram on the banks of the Sabarmati in 1917 that would become centers of intense nationalist activities. Ahmedabad became the capital of the new state of Gujarat after the bifurcation of the State of Bombay on May 1, 1960.