Ahmedabad, The Manchester of the East.
Ahmedabad, the business capital as well as the largest city in the state of Gujarat and the seventh largest city in India, with a population of more than 52 lakhs (5.2 million). Located on the banks of the River Sabarmati, the administrative centre of Ahmedabad district, and was the capital of Gujarat from 1960 to 1970, the capital was shifted to Gandhinagar thereafter. The city is sometimes called Karnavati, a name for an older town that existed in the same location; in colloquial Gujarati, it is commonly called Amdavad. The city was founded in 1411 to serve as the capital of the Sultanate of Gujarat, by its namesake, Sultan Ahmed Shah. Under British rule, a military cantonment was established and the city infrastructure was modernised and expanded. 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 indepeny established itself as the home of a booming textile industry, which earned it the nickndence movement in the first half of the 20th century. 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. Since 2000, the city has been transformed through the construction of skyscrapers, shopping malls and multiplexes. Gandhi Ashram:
Gandhi Ashram or Harijan Ashram founded in 1917 on the banks of the Sabarmati river played a notable part in the freedom struggle of the country. The first campaign that was launched from here was the Satyagrah of the Ahmedabad Textile Mill workers. Hriday Kunj, where Gandhiji had stayed, is very well maintained with his Charkha and personal belongings on view. It was from the Sabarmati Ashram that the Mahatma launched his famous Dandi March of 1930. That was the last campaign launched from this place. The Gandhi Sangrahalay has an invaluable collection of the Mahatma’s correspondence and other memorabilia. The Ashram has a memorial center, library and sound and light spectacle for the benefit of the visitors.
Siddi Sayed Mosque:
Siddi Sayed Mosque is famous for its 10 unique semi-circular tracery windows. The tracery resembles the famous silver filigree work for which Gujarat is so famous. Them adorn the upper zones of the side and back walls. The two western windows with exquisite naturalistic patterns are without parallel anywhere in India. The remaining eight windows have jail workmanship of square grid pattern. The mosque was built in 1572-13 CE by Shaikh Said Commonly spelt as Sayed, who was a noted noble of the time of Sultan Muzaffar Shah III. The wooden models of the two western windows have been placed in the New York and Kensington museums.
Sheth Hatheesing, a rich Jain merchant in 1948 CE, built Hatheesing Temple. It is dedicated to Dharmanath, the 15th Tirthankar. Premchand Salat designed the two-storied temple. It has porches on three sides; the front porch has a large dome. The paved courtyard has cloisters containing 52 shrines, each dedicated to a Tirthankar. The temple is a marvel of Jain architecture. The carvings, which are in white marble, have been conceived with the finesse of a jeweler. There is a towering Kirtisthambha in the huge courtyard. The temple can best be viewed on a moonlight night and the sight is really enchanting.
The Gujarat Science City is designed to bring science within the reach of the common man. The main aim of the city is to encourage innovation and experimental activities through hands-on learning process. In order to do this, it has on display the latest breakthroughs in the world of science.
It has an I-max theatre, which is the first 3-D theatre in the country. The musical fountain is an added attraction to the Science City. There are interesting exhibitions for children to instill in them a scientific temperament.
Sultan Ahmad Shah I, the founder of Ahmedabad, built Jumma Masjid in 1424 CE. It is a massive structure with entrances on three sides west, south and north. The eastern porched entrance has the mausoleum of Sultan Ahmad Shah I. 15 domes arranged symmetrically support the mosque, which stands on 260 pillars. A feature of the mosque is the royal gallery with beautiful stonework highlighted by moulded buttresses of the minarets.
Calico Museum that is housed in the Sarabhai family premises in Shahibaug has one of the finest collections of Indian textiles belonging to different periods. It attracts a large number of tourists, both Indian and foreign throughout the year. A part of it is housed in a haveli-setting adding the old world glamour to the surroundings. The exhibits include embroidered shamianas, wall hangings, costumes and fulkaris, kalamkaris, etc. The Vaishnava section contains a Pushtimargiya (Vallabhacharya) paintings on cloth of a derasar with domed wooden ceiling of Maratha period. The palanquin of Maharaja of Holker and a 17-century patola from Patan exported to Bali are among the notable exhibits.
The Iskcon Temple:
The Iskcon Temple is one of the latest additions to the shrines in Ahmedabad. It is built in the Rajput haveli style. The huge dome has attractive paintings from Lord Krishna’s life. The walls are equally adorned with his different lilas. The zarokhas present an impressive site. The shrine contains the murtis of Radha Krishna and Chaitanya Mahaprabhuji. An imposing statue of Shri Prabhupada Swami is also there. The temple has a well-stocked bookstall where literature on Krishna published by the trust is sold.
The Hussain Doshi ni Gufa:
The world famous architect B. V. Doshi and renowned artist M. F. Hussain designed this Gufa in Ahmedabad. The gufa has been inspired by the frescoes of the caves of Ajanta at Aurangabad in Maharashtra.
Akshardham Temple of Bhagawan Shri Swaminarayan is 25 Kms. far from Ahmedabad. The monument that is set in a 23-acre plot Gandhinagar (Gandhinagar district) is built in pink sandstone. It is 108 feet tall and 6000 tonnes of stone has gone into its making. A point worth noting is that this modern monument to Hinduism was built as per the injunctions of Vastu Shastra. Not a bit of steel has been used.
The Festivals in Ahmedabad:Navratri:
The nine nights packed with graceful dancing is dedicated to Maa Amba, the Goddess of Power. Navratri presents colourful mix of culture, dance forms and more importantly the very own cherubic spirit of Gujarat. The state on this occasion presents the resplendent moods of festivity as its best, as 50 million Gujaratis across the state dance to the tunes of melodious music with full flavour and enthusiasm.
International Kite Festival:
Uttarayan is celebrated as the festival of kites in Gujarat. The day marks the advent of sun in the northern hemisphere. In other words, the sun enters the Tropic of Cancer. Climatically the days lengthen and the nights become shorter from January 14. People from various parts of the country and abroad come to Ahmedabad to celebrate the kite festival. Ahmedabad has a famous kite museum where kites from 24 countries are displayed.
Sharad Utsav is held in January/February. This festival showcases the best of the colourful embroidery diligently created by the Kutchi people. The Bhungas, the traditional dwelling places of Kutchis, are plastered with mud and beautifully painted to relieve the boredom caused by the drab surroundings. It is a heavenly experience to bask in the glory of endless white desert under the full moon accompanied by melodious music.
The Art and Craft:
Patolas of Patan:
The patola saree is acclaimed as the queen of silk and Patan is the original place where its manufacture began. According to one tradition, seven hundred patola weavers came from Maharashtra and Karnataka and settled down at Patan. To mark the occasion the ruler himself wore patola robe. After the fall of the Solanki dynasty, the weavers, rich Gujarati merchants patronized descendents.
Bandhni of Jamnagar:
Bandhni of tie-and-dying is a well-known traditional handicraft of Gujarat. It is supposed to have entered the state from Sindh. Kutch is a prominent place for bandhni work. But the best product comes from Jamnagar in Saurashtra. The printed portion of the fabric is pinched and pushed into small points and then knotted with two or three twist of thread. The knotted parts remain uncoloured and the fabric is dyed in the lightest shade first, retied and dyed again in the darker colour. The process is repeated several times and you get the final colour scheme.
Embroidery is the historic living craft of Kutch, the lively colours and designs of the artisans of the Kutch district add a touch of colour to the dry landscape around their villages. Each community has a separate style of embroidery, using different stitches, colours and motifs, and sometimes setting them with beads of mirrors.
Sankheda Wood Craft:
Another handicraft industry that has become synonymous with southern Gujarat is the lacquered furniture of Sankheda near Vadodara. Wood is curved with tools and decorated with floral and abstract designs in bright shades of Gold, silver, maroon, green, vermilion and brown by using sticks dipped in a colourful mixture of dyes powdered zinc, lac and resin.
From the ancient times, the artisans of Khambhat (Cambay) continue the craft of stone cutting and bead making. In the 16th century, Khambhat was known for its ivory carving, weapons, aromatics, turbans, soap, camphor, gold, silver, silk, carpets, cotton, leather and other handicrafts, but now polishing of precious stones and handicrafts made from semiprecious stones are the main industries for which Khambhat has remained famous.
A Shopper’s Paradise, Ahmedabad
Ahmedabad, known as shopper’s paradise, the state of Gujarat (in western India) is a center for textiles, especially colourful patchwork and Kutchi embroidery, Bandhni of Jamnagar, Zari work on silk and Patola silks moreover Stone Jewellery and Wood Craft also is easily available in the bazaar of Ahmedabad.
Ashram Road, about 10 Kms. from the Railway Station, houses most of the up market showrooms and arcades destined for tourists. Garvi and Gurjari the two multi-storied, government owned establishments, house the most genuine crafts carefully selected and displayed. Kala Niketan has an artistic and extensive collection of silks and textiles. For fine quality Zari work Ratanpol Road would be ideal and is just 3 Kms. away.
On Sundays, the banks of the Sabarmati river near Lakdi Ka Pul there a colourful spectacle as a large crowded market spreads over a few Kms. along it. One can find here fruits, vegetables, pins, needles, or even a car engine takes your pick at your price.
The other bazaars and shopping areas include Manek Chowk, Relief Road Market, Lal Darwaza, Law Garden, C.G. Road and Kapasia Bazaar. Where to stayAhmedabad has few options to offer tourists wishing to spend the night there like dharmshalas, hotels, and guesthouses are easily available. For more information www.gujarattourism.com is the website address from where one can make a plan how to explore the place before reaching there. How to get there
By Road: NH 8 connects Ahmedabad with Mumbai, 545 km., and Delhi, 873 km.
By Train: Ahmedabad Station
By Air: Vallabhbhai Patel Airport is situated 14 km from the city.
Although Ahmedabad has experienced and suffered with earth quack, communal riots, etc, city does not seem to be weak. By every way it is going on the way of progress.