Gujarat • India
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
|205 km² (79 sq mi)
• 53 m (174 ft)
• 22,473 /km² (58,205 /sq mi) (7th)
|Municipal commissioner||I. P. Gautam|
|Police commissioner||O. P.Mathur|
|• 380 0XX
|Source: Census of India.|
Ahmedabad (Gujarati: અમદાવાદ Amdāvād, Hindi: अहमदाबाद ) is the largest city in the state of Gujarat and one of the largest urban agglomerations in India, with a population of 45 lakhs (4.5 million). Located on the banks of the River Sabarmati, the city is the administrative centre of Ahmedabad district and was the capital of Gujarat from 1960 to 1970; the capital was shifted to Gandhinagar thereafter. In colloquial Gujarati, it is commonly called Amdavad.
Ahmedabad was founded in 1411 by Sultan Ahmed Shah to serve as the capital of the Sultanate of Gujarat. The city is named after its founder. Under British rule, a military cantonment was established and the city infrastructure was modernised and expanded. Although incorporated into the Bombay Presidency during the British rule in India, Ahmedabad remained the most important city in the Gujarat region. The city established itself as the home of a booming textile industry, which earned it the nickname “the Manchester of the East.” The city was at the forefront of the Indian independence movement in the first half of the 20th century. It was the centre of many campaigns of civil disobedience to promote workers’ rights, civil rights and political independence.
With the creation of the state of Gujarat in 1960, Ahmedabad gained prominence as the political and commercial capital of the state. Once characterised by dusty roads and bungalows, the city is witnessing a major construction boom and population increase. A rising centre of education, information technology and scientific industries, Ahmedabad remains the cultural and commercial heart of Gujarat and much of western India.
Archaeological evidence suggests that the area around Ahmedabad has been inhabited since the 11th century, when it was known as Ashapalli or Ashaval. 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 located at the present time area of Maninagar close to the river Sabarmati. Solanki rule lasted until the 13th century, when Gujarat came under the control of the Vaghela dynasty of Dholka and Karnavati was conquered by the Sultanate of Delhi. In 1411, the rule of the Muzaffarid dynasty was established in Gujarat. According to legend, Sultan Ahmed Shah, while camping on the banks of the River Sabarmati, saw a hare chasing a dog. Impressed by this act of bravery, the Sultan, who had been looking for a place to build his new capital, decided to locate the capital at this forest area close by to Karnavati right on the river bank and christened it Ahmedabad.
In 1487, Mahmud Begada, the grandson of Ahmed Shah, 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. Ahmedabad was ruled 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 to 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. During a drought, the Deccan Famine of 1630-32 affected the city, as did famines in 1650 and 1686. Ahmedabad remained the provincial headquarter of the Mughals until 1758, when Mughals surrendered the city to the Marathas. During Maratha governance, the city lost some of its past glory, and was at the center of contention between two Maratha clans—The Peshwa of Poona and the Gaekwad of Baroda. The British East India Company took over the city in 1818 as a part of the conquest of India. A military cantonment was established in 1824 and a municipal government in 1858. In 1864, a railway link between Ahmedabad and Mumbai (then Bombay) was established by the Bombay, Baroda, and Central India Railway (BB&CI), making Ahmedabad an important junction in the traffic and trade between northern and southern India. Large numbers of people migrated from rural areas to work in textile mills, establishing a robust industry.
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 (now Sabarmati Ashram) on the banks of the Sabarmati in 1917 — that would become centres of intense 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 famous Dandi Salt March. The city administration and economic institutions were rendered functionless by the large masses of people who took to the streets in peaceful protests in the early 1930s, and again in 1942 during the Quit India movement. Following independence and the partition of India in 1947, the city was scarred by intense communal violence that broke out between Hindus and Muslims.
Ahmedabad became the capital of the new state of Gujarat after the bifurcation of the State of Bombay on 1 May 1960. During that period, a large number of educational and research institutions were founded in the city, making it a major centre of higher education, science and technology. Ahmedabad’s economic base was diversified with the establishment of heavy and chemical industries in its vicinity around the same period. But the growth in the next two decades was punctuated by political events in and around the city. In 1974, Ahmedabad occupied the centre stage in national politics with the launch of the Nav Nirman agitation — a protest against a 20% hike in the hostel food fees at the L.D. College of Engineering that snowballed into a mass agitation against general corruption 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.
On 26 January 2001 a devastating earthquake struck the city, centred near Bhuj, measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale. As many as 50 multistory buildings collapsed, killing 752 people and devastating the city’s infrastructure. The following year, communal riots between Hindus and Muslims spread to Ahmedabad, paralysing the city for more than a month. The crisis resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,044 people across the state. The displacement of thousands of Muslims led to the erection of refugee camps around the city. On 26 July 2008 a series of seventeen bomb blasts rocked the city, killing and injuring several people.
In recent years, the effects of liberalization of the Indian economy has energized the city’s economy towards tertiary sector activities like commerce, communication, construction activities. The city has witnessed the establishment of scientific and service industries, the expansion of the information technology sector, and significant improvements in transportation and communications. Ahmedabad’s population is growing, which has resulted in a construction and housing boom.
Geography and climate
There are three main seasons: summer, monsoon and winter. Aside from the monsoon season, the climate is dry. The weather is hot through the months of March to June — the average summer maximum is 36 °C (97 °F), and the average minimum is 23 °C (73 °F). From November to February, the average maximum temperature is 30 °C (85 °F), the average minimum is 15 °C (59 °F), and the climate is extremely dry. Cold northerly winds are responsible for a mild chill in January. The southwest monsoon brings a humid climate from mid-June to mid-September. The average rainfall is 93.2 cm (36.7 inches), but infrequent heavy torrential rains cause the river to flood. The highest temperature recorded is 47 °C (116.6 °F) and the lowest is 5 °C (41 °F). In recent years, Ahmedabad has suffered from increasing air, water and soil pollution from neighbouring industrial areas and textile mills.
Ahmedabad is divided by the Sabarmati into two physically distinct eastern and western regions. The eastern 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 clustered and barricaded pol system of close clustered buildings, and numerous places of worship. It houses the main railway station, the General Post Office, and few buildings of the Muzaffarid and British eras. The colonial period saw the expansion of the city to the western side of Sabarmati, facilitated by the construction of Ellis Bridge in 1875 and later with the modern Nehru Bridge. This part of the city houses educational institutions, modern buildings, well-planned residential areas, shopping malls, multiplexes and new business districts centred around some roads like Ashram Road and Sarkhej-Gandhinagar Highway.
Ahmedabad is administered by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC). Some of the regions surrounding the city are administered by the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA). The AMC was established in July 1950 under the Bombay Provincial Corporation Act, 1949. For administrative purposes, the city is divided into 43 wards. City is divided into 5 zones and has total 43 wards. Citizens elect corporators during civic elections. At present the corporation consists of 129 corporators elected from 43 wards. These 129 corporators elect a mayor and deputy mayor for a turn of two and a half years. Executive powers are vested in the municipal commissioner, who is an IAS officer appointed by the Gujarat state government. The mayor is responsible for the day-to-day running of the municipal school board, the city bus service, the municipal hospital, and the city library. The city serves as the headquarters of Ahmedabad district and as the seat of the Gujarat High Court. The Ahmedabad city police are headed by a Police Commissioner, an Indian Police Service officer. Ahmedabad’s Kamla Nehru Zoological Park features endangered species like flamingoes, caracal, asiatic wolf, chinkara and many more. AMC has initiated the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project with an of objective environmental improvement with provision of slum rehabilitation for poor living on the river banks.
Electricity in the city is provided by Torrent Power group, previously a state-run corporation. The city elects one member to the Lok Sabha and seven to the Gujarat Vidhan Sabha. Two main political parties have won a significant number of seats in elections — the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress (INC). Of the thirteen assembly seats of Ahmedabad, ten were won by the BJP and three by the Congress Party during the legislative elections in 2007. In the 2005 Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation elections, the BJP won 96 seats, 32 seats went to the Congress, and one seat went to an independent candidate.
In the 19th century, the textile and garments industry received strong capital investment. On 30 May 1861 Ranchhodlal Chhotalal founded the first Indian textile mill, the Ahmedabad Spinning and Weaving Company Limited. This was followed by the establishment of a series of textile mills such as the Calico Mills and Arvind Mills. By 1905 there were about 33 textile mills in the city.  The textile industry further expanded rapidly during the First World War, and benefited from the influence of Mahatma Gandhi’s Swadeshi movement, which promoted the purchase of Indian-made goods.
Ahmedabad has a thriving chemicals and pharmaceuticals industry. Two of the biggest pharmaceutical companies of India — Zydus Cadila and Torrent Pharmaceuticals — are based in the city. The city serves as the corporate headquarters of the Adani Group, which is a leading multinational trading and infrastructure development company. The Nirma group of industries, which runs a large number of detergent and chemical industrial units, has its corporate headquarters in the city. In recent year many foreign companies have set up their sales offices and production facilities in Ahmedabad. Amongst them are Bosch Rexroth, Germany (hydraulic components); Stork, Netherlands (textile machinery; joint venture with ATE, India’s leading textile equipment trading house); Rollepaal, Netherlands (pipe extrusion equipment); and Johnson Pumps, Sweden.
The completion and operation of the Sardar Sarovar Project of dams and canals has improved the supply of potable water and electricity for the city. In recent years, the Gujarat government has increased investment in the modernisation of the city’s infrastructure, providing for the construction of larger roads and improvements to water supply, electricity and communications. The information technology industry has developed significantly in Ahmedabad. A NASSCOM survey in 2002 on the “Super Nine Indian Destinations” for IT-enabled services ranked Ahmedabad fifth among the top nine most competitive cities in the country. City is the largest supplier of denim and one of the largest exporters of gems and jewelery in India.
A diverse labour force of migrant workers from different parts of Gujarat and neighbouring states is integral to the economy of the city. These workers provide vital household labour and services for the city’s large middle class. Ahmedabad plays a strong and significant role in providing commercial resources and market access for the economies of neighbouring cities. A majority of the working-age citizens of Ahmedabad are traders and business people. This has led to the creation of major mercantile corporations and artisan guilds that are a key influence on the economic life of Gujarat. The city’s educational and industrial institutions have attracted students and young skilled workers from the rest of India.
|Source: Census of India|
As per the 2001 Indian census, the area under Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has a population of 3,520,085. The population of the Ahmedabad urban agglomeration (which includes the region governed by AUDA) was 4,525,013. The urban agglomeration accounts for 21.7% of Gujarat’s urban population. Ahmedabad has a literacy rate of 79.89%, which is the highest in Gujarat; 87.81% males and 71.12% females are literate. 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 the sects of Jainism. Most of the residents of Ahmedabad are native Gujaratis. Hindi and English are commonly spoken, especially in commerce, education, politics and government.
According to National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB) report of 2003, Ahmedabad ranks 12th in the list of 35 Indian cities with a population of more than 10 lakh in the crime rate ratio. City’s main jail is Sabarmati Central Jail.
Since its founding, the city has attracted migrant workers from other areas of Gujarat, including Kutch and Saurashtra, and from the neighbouring states of Rajasthan and Maharashtra as well as the Pakistani province of Sindh. There is a sizeable population of Punjabis, Marathis, Telugu, Tamils, Sindhis, Malayalis and Marwaris, who bring their native language and culture to the city. The city is home to some 2000 Parsis and some 300 members of Bene Israel Jews community. There are 2273 registered NRI’s from Ahmedabad. Slightly less than half of all real estate in Ahmedabad is owned by “community organizations” (i.e. cooperatives), and “the spatial growth of the city is to the extent contribution of these organizations.” Ahmedabad Cantonment also provides residential zones for Indian Army officials.
Ahmedabad enjoys a thriving cultural tradition, being the centre of Gujarati cultural activities and diverse traditions 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 — at venues across the city. The festival of lights — Deepavali is celebrated with the lighting of lamps in every house, the decorating the floors with the rangoli and the bursting of firecrackers. Other festivals such as Holi, Eid ul-Fitr and Christmas are celebrated with 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 culture.
The people of Ahmedabad enjoy rich culinary traditions. The most popular form of meal — a typical Gujarati thali (meal) — consists of rotli, dal, rice and Shaak (cooked vegetables, sometimes with curry), with accompaniments of pickles and roasted papads. Popular beverages include buttermilk and tea; sweet dishes include laddoos and mango. 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.
The architectural history of Ahmedabad stretches across the last millennium. The Sultanate fused Hindu craftsmanship with Islamic architecture, giving rise to the Indo-Saracenic style. Many mosques in the city are built in this fashion.  After independence modern buildings came up in Ahmedabad when renowned architects were given commissions in the city like Louis Kahn who designed the Indian Institute of Management; Le Corbusier who designed the Shodhan and Sarabhai Villas, the Sanskar Kendra and the Mill Owner’s Association; and Buckminister Fuller who designed 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 masterpieces include Sangath, the Doshi-Hussain Gufa and the School of Architecture. Charles Correa, who became a partner of Doshi’s, designed the Gandhi Ashram and Achut Kanvinde the Indian Textile Industries Research Association. Christopher Charles Benninger’s first work, the Alliance Francaise, is located in the Ellis Bridge area. Hasmukh C. Patel, and his son Dr. Bimal Patel, are renowned architects of the city having designed the St. Xavier’s High School Loyola Hall, Gujarat High Court and the Ahmedabad Management Association. Anant Raje recently designed a major addition to Louis Kahn’s campus, the Indian Institute of Management.
Parts of Ahmedabad are known for their speciality of folk art. The Paldi area is famous for shops selling works of embroidery from the Kutch and Saurashtra regions. The artisans of Rangeela pol are famous for making bandhinis (tie and dye work), while the cobbler shops of Madhupura sell traditional mojri footwear. High-quality idols of Ganesha and other religious icons are made in huge numbers in the Gulbai Tekra area. The shops at the Law Garden are famous for their mirror work handicraft. Victorian architecture is showcased in most college, railway station and government buildings, mainly constructed during the colonial period.
Many Gujarati intellectuals migrated to Ahmedabad due to its prosperity. Three main literary institutions were established in Ahmedabad for the promotion of Gujarati literature — Gujarat Vidhya Sabha, Gujarati Sahitya Parishad and Gujarat Sahitya Sabha. Musicians and instrumentalists from across the world come to perform at the popular classical music festival held each 1 January by the Saptak School of Music. The Sanskar Kendra — one of the many buildings in Ahmedabad designed by Le Corbusier — is a city museum depicting history, art, culture and architecture of Ahmedabad. The Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya and the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Memorial have a permanent display of photographs, documents and other articles of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel. The Calico Museum of Textiles has a large collection of Indian and international fabrics, garments and textiles. Ahmedabad maintains a strong popular literary tradition in large public libraries maintained by the literary societies, research and government institutions and colleges. The Hazrat Pir Mohammad Shah Library has a collection of rare original manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Sindhi and Turkish languages.
Cricket is the most popular sport in the city. Sardar Patel Stadium, built in 1982, hosts both one-day internationals and test matches. The stadium also hosted the 1996 Cricket World Cup. Ahmedabad also has a second cricket stadium at the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s Sports Club of Gujarat which is the home ground of the Gujarat cricket team that plays in domestic tournament of Ranji Trophy. City is represented by Ahmedabad Rockets in Indian Cricket League which is played in Twenty20 format of the game. Other sports gaining popularity are field hockey, badminton, tennis, and squash. Ahmedabad currently has three golf courses. Mithakhali Multi Sports Complex is being developed by the AMC to promote various indoor sports. There has been a significant increase in recent years in the number of private sports clubs, gymkhanas, gymnasia and sports teams sponsored by corporations, private associations, schools and colleges. Young people congregate in the evenings to play cricket and football at numerous public and neighbourhood grounds. Recently Ahmedabad hosted national level games for roller skating and Table Tennis. Kart racing is fast gaining popularity in the city, with facility of 380 meter long track based on Formula One concept. In 2007, Ahmedabad hosted the 51st national level shooting games. Geet Sethi, a five-time winner of the World Professional Billiards Championship and a recipient of India’s highest sporting award, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, hails from Ahmedabad. Ahmedabad has produced cricketers such as Jasu Patel and Parthiv Patel who have been members of the Indian cricket team. Tejas Bakre, a chess grandmaster, is from Ahmedabad.
Ahmedabad is one of the six operating divisions of the Western Railway. Railway lines connect the city to all towns in Gujarat and other major Indian cities. The Ahmedabad Railway Station is the city’s main terminus; Ahmedabad’s five other stations are Maninagar, Vatva, Gandhigram, Asarva and Sabarmati. The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport serves both domestic and international flights to and from Ahmedabad and the neighboring cities of Gandhinagar, Mehsana and Nadiad. The airport connects the city with destinations across India and the world.
National Highway 8, linking Delhi to Mumbai, passes though Ahmedabad. Ahmedabad is connected to Vadodara through National Expressway 1, a 94 km (58 mi) long highway with only two exits. This expressway is part of the Golden Quadrilateral project. Ahmedabad is directly connected by highways to Bhavnagar, Nadiad, Mehsana, Surendranagar, Bhuj, Rajkot and Gandhinagar.
The city’s main traffic arteries are the Mahatma Gandhi Road, C. G. Road, the Jawaharlal Nehru Road, the Ashram Road and the Sarkhej-Gandhinagar Highway (S.G. Highway). Auto rickshaws, share autos and buses are the most popular forms of public transport. The Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service (AMTS) runs the local bus service in the city. In 2005, AMTS began a drive to convert all of its petrol and diesel engine buses to run on compressed natural gas engines to reduce the effects of air pollution. AMTS runs 750 buses. Bicycles and motorcycles are a popular medium of transport with the city’s young people and students. The Ahmedabad BRTS project has been launched by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. The project’s first phase had a projected completion date of September 2007, but delays have pushed the date to August 2008.
In 2001, Ahmedabad was ranked as the 4th 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 Rs. 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 50th most polluted city in India.
Schools in Ahmedabad are run either by the municipal corporation, or privately by entities, trusts and corporations. Most schools are affiliated with the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board. A few schools are affiliated to the Central Board for Secondary Education and International Baccalaureate . A large number of colleges in the city are affiliated with Gujarat University. Other deemed universities in Ahmedabad include the Nirma University of Science & Technology 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 institutions such as the Indian Institute of Management, the National Institute of Design, the Mudra Institute of Communications, the National Institute of Fashion Technology, the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, and the Center for Environmental Planning and Technology are located in Ahmedabad. Many national academic and scientific institutions, such as the Physical Research Laboratory and the Space Applications Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation, were established in the 1960s largely through the efforts of prominent astrophysicist and industrialist Vikram Sarabhai. The Ahmedabad Management Association is a notable institution established to impart management training and experience to young students and professionals. A satellite campus of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay is located at the Vishwakarma Engineering College campus in Chandkheda. The campus was opened with a plan to offer 100 courses in various technical disciplines.
Newspapers in Ahmedabad include English dailies such as The Times of India, Indian Express, DNA, Economic Times and Financial Express. Newspapers in vernacular languages (Gujarati and Hindi) include Divya Bhaskar, Gujarat Samachar, Sandesh, Rajasthan Patrika and Metro. A large number of magazines, periodicals and journals are published from Ahmedabad. The city is home to the historic Navajivan Publishing House — founded in 1919 by Mahatma Gandhi. The Gujarat film and television industry has a small but significant presence in the city.
The state-owned All India Radio is broadcast both on the Medium Wave and FM bands in the city. It competes with six private local FM stations — Radio Mirchi (98.3 MHz), Radio City (91.1 MHz), My fm (94.3 MHz), Radio One (95.0 MHz), Gyan Vaani (104.5 MHz) and S FM (93.51 MHz). Satellite radio was launched in the city by WorldSpace in 2005. The state-owned television broadcaster Doordarshan provides free terrestrial channels, while two multi system operator — InCablenet and Siti Cable — provide a mix of Gujarati, Hindi, English and other regional channels via cable. Direct broadcast satellite is yet to gain popularity in Ahmedabad. A network of optical fibre cables connects almost the entire city. The city’s telephone services are provided by landline and mobile operators such as BSNL, Reliance Infocomm, Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and Tata Indicom. Broadband Internet services are provided in most parts of the city by the telecom companies.
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