Ahmedabad; also known as Amdavad Gujarati pronunciation: [ˈəmdɑːvɑːd]) is the largest city and former capital 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 6.3 million and an extended population of 7.2 million, it is the sixth largest city and seventh largest metropolitan area of India. Ahmedabad is located on the banks of the Sabarmati River, 30 km 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 liberalisation of the Indian economy have energised the city’s economy towards tertiary sector activities like commerce, communication and construction. Ahmedabad’s increasing population has resulted in an increase in the construction and housing industries resulting in recent development of skyscrapers.
In 2010, it was ranked third in Forbes’s list of fastest growing cities of the decade. 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 $119 billion.
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. According to other sources, he named it after himself. It is said that the birthday of Ahmedabad city is February 26, 1412.
In 1487, Mahmud Begada, the grandson of Ahmed Shah, fortified the city with an outer wall 10 km 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 city’s administration and economic institutions were rendered inoperative in the early 1930s by the large numbers of people who took to the streets in peaceful protests, and again in 1942 during the Quit India Movement. 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 for higher education, science and technology. Ahmedabad’s economic base became more diverse with the establishment of heavy and chemical industry during the same period. Many countries sought to emulate India’s economic planning strategy and one of them, South Korea, copied the city’s second "Five-Year Plan".
In the late 1970s, the capital shifted to the newly built, well planned city of Gandhinagar. 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.
Early in Ahmedabad’s history, under Ahmed Shah, builders fused Hindu craftsmanship with Persian architecture, giving rise to the Indo-Saracenic style. Many mosques in the city were built in this fashion. Sidi Saiyyed Mosque was built in the last year of the Sultanate of Gujarat. It is entirely arched and has ten stone latticework windows or jali on the side and rear arches. Private mansions or haveli from this era have carvings. A Pol is a typical housing cluster of Old Ahmedabad.
After independence, modern buildings appeared in Ahmedabad. Architects given commissions in the city included Louis Kahn, who designed the IIM-A; Le Corbusier, who designed the Shodhan and Sarabhai Villas, the Sanskar Kendra and the Mill Owner’s Association Building, and Frank Lloyd Wright, who designed the administrative building of Calico Mills and the Calico Dome. B. V. Doshi came to the city from Paris to supervise Le Corbusier’s works and later set up the School of Architecture. His local works include Sangath, Amdavad ni Gufa and the School of Architecture. Charles Correa, who became a partner of Doshi’s, designed the Gandhi Ashram and Achyut Kanvinde, and the Indian Textile Industries Research Association. Christopher Charles Benninger’s first work, the Alliance Française, is located in the Ellis Bridge area. Anant Raje designed major additions to Louis Kahn’s IIM-A campus, namely the Ravi Mathai Auditorium and KLMD.
Some of the most visited gardens in the city include Law Garden, Victoria Garden and Bal Vatika. Law Garden was named after the College of Law situated close to it. Victoria Garden is located at the southern edge of the Bhadra Fort and contains a statue of Queen Victoria. Bal Vatika is a children’s park situated on the grounds of Kankaria Lake and also houses an amusement park. Other gardens in the city include Parimal Garden, Usmanpura Garden, Prahlad Nagar Garden and Lal Darwaja Garden. Ahmedabad’s Kamla Nehru Zoological Park houses a number of endangered species including flamingoes, caracals, Asiatic wolves and chinkara.
The Kankaria Lake, built in 1451 AD, is one of the biggest lakes in Ahmedabad. In earlier days, it was known by the name Qutub Hoj or Hauj-e-Kutub. Vastrapur Lake is located in the western part of Ahmedabad. Lal Bahadur Shastri lake in Bapunagar is almost 136,000 square metres. In 2010, another 34 lakes were planned in and around Ahmedabad of which five lakes will be developed by AMC; the other 29 will be developed by the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA). Chandola Lake covers an area of 1200 hectares. It is home for cormorants, painted storks and spoonbills. During the evening time, many people visit this place and take a leisurely stroll. There is a recently developed Naroda lake and the world’s largest collection of antique cars in KathWada at IB farm (Dastan Farm). AMC has also developed the Sabarmati Riverfront.
Ahmedabad is the fifth largest city and seventh largest metropolitan area in India. According to the 2014 census the population of Ahmedabad metropolitan was 7,250,000. Ahmedabad has a literacy rate of 89.62%; 93.96% of the men and 84.81% of the women are literate. Ahmedabad’s sex ratio in 2011 was 897 women per 1000 men. According to the census for the Ninth Plan, there are 30,737 rural families living in Ahmedabad. Of those, 5.41% (1663 families) live below the poverty line. Approximately 440,000 people live in slums within the city. Ahmedabad is home to a large population of Vanias (i.e., traders), belonging to the Vaishnava sect of Hinduism and various sects of Jainism. Most of the residents of Ahmedabad are native Gujaratis. Over 18% of the population is Muslim, numbering over 300,000 in the 2001 census. In addition, the city is home to some 2000 Parsis and some 125 members of the Bene Israel Jewish community. There is also one synagogue in the city. In 2008, there were 2273 registered non-resident Indians living in Ahmedabad.In 2010, Forbes magazine rated Ahmedabad as the fastest-growing city in India, and listed it as third fastest-growing in the world after the Chinese cities of Chengdu and Chongqing. In 2011, it was rated India’s best megacity to live in by leading market research firm IMRB. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report of 2003, Ahmedabad has the lowest crime rate of the 35 Indian cities with a population of more than one million. In December 2011 market research firm IMRB declared Ahmedabad the best megacity to live in, when compared to India’s other megacities. Slightly less than half of all real estate in Ahmedabad is owned by "community organisations" (i.e. cooperatives), and according to Prof. Vrajlal Sapovadia of the B.K. School of Business Management, "the spatial growth of the city is to [an] extent [a] contribution of these organisations". Ahmedabad Cantonment provides residential zones for Indian Army officials.
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. 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 (Chapati), 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, while 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.
L D Institute of Indology houses about 76,000 hand-written Jain manuscripts with 500 illustrated versions and 45,000 printed books, making it the largest collection of Jain scripts, Indian sculptures, terracottas, miniature paintings, cloth paintings, painted scrolls, bronzes, woodwork, Indian coins, textiles and decorative art, paintings of Rabindranath Tagore and art of Nepal and Tibet. N C Mehta Gallery of Miniature Paintings has a collection of ornate miniature paintings and manuscripts from all over India.
Ahmedabad is one of six operating divisions in the Western Railway zone. Railway lines connect the city to towns in Gujarat and major Indian cities. Ahmedabad railway station, locally known as Kalupur station is the main terminus with 11 others. The Government of Gujarat and Ahmedabad Mahanagar Sevasadan had initiated a feasibility study into the possibility of a mass-transit metro system for the cities of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar. The state government set up a ₹2 billion company for the execution of the project.
National Highway 8, linking Delhi to Mumbai, passes though Ahmedabad and connects it with Gandhinagar, Delhi and Mumbai. The National Highway 8C also links Ahmedabad to Gandhinagar. It is connected to Vadodara through National Expressway 1, a 94 km long expressway with two exits. This expressway is part of the Golden Quadrilateral project.
In 2001, Ahmedabad was ranked as the most polluted city in India, out of 85 cities, by the Central Pollution Control Board. The Gujarat Pollution Control Board gave auto rickshaw drivers an incentive of ₹10,000 to convert all 37,733 auto rickshaws in Ahmedabad to cleaner burning compressed natural gas to reduce pollution. As a result, in 2008, Ahmedabad was ranked as 50th most polluted city in India.
Ahmedabad has a Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), maintained by the Ahmedabad Janmarg Limited (AJL). Ahmedabad BRTS was given the Sustainable Transport Award in 2010 by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy for reducing carbon emissions and improving residents’ access. The first phase connecting RTO to Pirana was inaugurated by Chief Minister Narendra Modi on 14 October 2009 and the second half of the first phase connecting Chandranagar to Pushpa Kunj gate at Kankaria
was inaugurated on 25 December 2009. It is extended from Shivranjani to Iskcon Temple on 15 September 2012. On 28 September 2012 it also include the sketch from Soni ni Chali to Odhav. Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service (also known as AMTS), maintained by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, runs the public bus service in the city of Ahmedabad. At present, AMTS has 750 buses serving the city.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, 15 km from the city centre, provides domestic and international flights. It is the busiest airport in Gujarat and the eighth busiest in India with an average of 250 aircraft movements a day. The Dholera International Airport is proposed near Fedara. It will be the largest airport in India with a total area of 7,500 hectares.
Ahmedabad had a literacy rate of 79.89% in 2001 which rose to 89.62 percent in 2011. As of 2011, literacy rate among male and female were 93.96 and 84.81 percent respectively. Schools in Ahmedabad are run either by the municipal corporation, or privately by entities, trusts and corporations. The majority of schools are affiliated with the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board, although some are affiliated with the Central Board for Secondary Education, Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations, International Baccalaureate and National Institute of Open School. A large number of colleges in the city are affiliated with Gujarat University; Gujarat Technological University and other deemed universities in Ahmedabad include the Center for Environmental Planning and Technology University, Nirma University of Science & Technology, Centre for Heritage Management Ganpat university and the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University. The Gujarat Vidyapith was established in 1920 by Mahatma Gandhi without a charter from the British Raj and became a deemed university in 1963.
Other educational institutions in Ahmedabad include the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, the Gujarat National Law University, the Adani Institute of Infrastructure Management, the National Institute of Design, the Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, the Mudra Institute of Communications, the Ahmedabad University, the Center for environmental planning and technology, the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, the B.J. Medical College, the NHL Medical College, the Ahmedabad Management Association, the L.D. College of Engineering and the Vishwakarma Government Engineering College. Many national academic and scientific institutions, such as the Physical Research Laboratory and the Indian Space Research Organisation are also based in the city.