My joy knew no bounds when the news blazed “Ahmedabad Becomes India’s First World Heritage City”. I created history on July 8, 2017. I became India’s first city to get global accolade. UNESCO awarded me this status. Ahmedabad’s nomination as a city exemplifying ‘living heritage’ was unanimously supported by at least 20 countries. In my moment of glory, I pause to reflect on my journey thus far.
The legend has it Ahmed Shah I was once camping on the banks of the river Sabarmati and saw a hare chasing a wild dog. Unusual, eh? He at once decided to make this place his new capital and gave it his name. The year was 1411 and on 26th February that year, my foundation was laid.
I feel smug when I recall what some great travellers and historians had to say about me. English ambassador who visited me in 1695 wrote that I was ‘nothing inferior to Venice’. While an English traveller Sir Thomas Herbert (1695) described me as ‘the megapolis of Gujarat circled by strong walls with many large and comely streets’. All this is largely true of me even now.
Why I’m the Land of Legends:
I have been home to many legends. I begin with one who is fondly called Father of the Nation. From 1915 to 1930 all eyes were on me because one who changed India’s destiny resided in an Ashram at the bank of Sabarmati. I was bustling with political activity. And then Mahatma left for historical Dandi March on March 12, 1930, and never returned to me.
Another great Indian statesman, a great unifier who led many revolutions too had big dreams for me. Yes, the iron man Sardar Patel who knew back then that I could not remain confined within four walls for long. I had to grow and expand and he made my growth possible.
Another such legend whom some people might have forgotten, nonetheless dear to me is Ranchhodlal Chhotelal. He was the one to put my textile industry on the world map. He founded the first textile mill in as early as 1859.
I feel ever grateful to Dr Vikram Sarabhai who gave me so much to be proud of. He founded Ahmedabad Education Society, Ahmedabad Management Association, Textile Research Association, Physical Research Laboratory, Community Science Centre and the country’s finest institute IIM A. He made me feel savvy.
Places to visit-
One nearest to the railway station the delicately balanced Shaking Minarets. One marvels what technology was used to make them stable and shaking at the same time. Then there’s Calico Museum is where my family heirloom in all its magnificence is preserved for posterity.
Hatheesingh Temple got the name from the great businessman who built it. A Jain temple displaying intricate carvings akin to famous Dilwara temples.
Adalaj steps well built in 15th C is elegant in its structure and design just as it is a great example of the water storage system in an arid region.
Sarkhej Roza, a mosque that is an amalgam of Islam Hindu and Jain architectural styles.
Kite Museum, displays a rich variety of kites. During the kite festival kite flyers from all over the world gather here to fly kites of all sizes and designs.
Of course, Ahmedabad visit is never complete without visiting Sabarmati Ashram. Recently a new jewel has been added to my crown i. e. Sabarmati Riverfront.
Festivals that contribute to my rich heritage-
Some may think I’m festival crazy. But that’s true. I love all festivals and anxiously wait for some of them for the whole year. In fact, I wish these festivals came more than once a year.
My affection for kite flying is well known. And I wait for 14th January like a child. Special Uttarayan delights are kites and Undhiyu Jalebi. It’s a two-day festival and second day 15th is called Basi Uttarayan. These two days you will find me only on rooftops even during nights when I love watching Tukkal. It’s a kite to which candles are attached and these kites look surreal in the backdrop of the dark sky as shown in the picture below.
How full of energy and fervour I am during those nine days and nights of Garba. We all clad in vibrant traditional costumes swirl and sway to the beats of songs and on the last day that’s on Dussera, we enjoy sumptuous Fafda and Jalebi. Yes, I am a foodie too.
On this celebratory note, I sign off.
Aau jo (see you)!