If you are braced to taste the mystifying paradox that India can serve up, than a visit to its megacity, Ahmedabad, comes as a prescription. Nestled in the heart of Gujarat, this zesty city provides one with a generous buffet of stimulation that swears to enliven all the five senses. A day here is like living through an enigmatic and passionate dance between the old and the contemporary, the virtuous and the ruthless, the peaceful and the chaotic, the artistic and the crude, the spiritual and the material.
But these very opposites often carry many visitors to such thresholds, that after a point, they find themselves immersed in the innate spirit of this enchanting place. Many who came here have never left. It is not because this city is perfect. Far from it. But it is because this city lives from the ‘heart’ and one can feel it. If you can scratch through the surface of the smog, than you'll begin to experience its raw aesthetic energy and irrepressible spirit.
One end the noise of industrial growth and readily sprouting malls will amaze you and on the other end the serenity of the Gandhi ashram on the banks of the Sabarmati river will calm you. The elite educational institutions might impress you, and the unbreakable spirit and hospitality of the people residing at the grassroots might humble you. The traffic will flummox you, but hopefully the art and culture will refresh you.The Legend
There is a well known legend, that around 1411 Sultan Ahmed Shah was standing by the Sabarmati river when the unusual sight of a hare chasing a ferocious dog caught his attention. He was impressed by the influence of this land that cultivated fearlessness in its people and so he decided to establish his capital in this forest area and named it Ahmedabad. The construction had begun with the fort wall housing the intricately designed city within. The wall was consecrated at four points by four ‘Ahmeds’, Sheikh Ahmed Khattu, Ganj Baksh, Kazi Ahmed, Malek Ahmed and Sutan Ahmed Shah.The construction was completed in 1417 AD.The Mughal Reign
The Muzaffarid dynasty ruled Ahmedabad until 1573 after which Gujarat was conquered by the Mughal emperor Akbar. From an early period the people here displayed a sharp business acumen and added immensely to its prosperity. It became one of the thriving centres of trade of the Mughal empire, especially in textiles, which were exported as far as Middle East and Europe. Some of the major items they traded were cotton, silk and other luxury goods. Sarkhej was the largest producer of Indigo, and India controlled over 90% of the worlds Indigo cultivation. It was during the later part of the Sultanate era that influential nobles moved out of the walled city to set up suburban garden paradises around; today their names are part of the city’s postal heritage. Navrangmiya set up Navrangpura, Usmankhan and Chengiz Khan lend their names to Usmanpura and Chengizpur (also known as Mithakali). The Mughals, when they took over the city, built a series of gardens in their unique style. The names Amraiwadi, Ambawadi and Shahibaag echo memories of past greenery.Independent India
India attained independence from the British in 1947. However, the partition divided the fabric of the city into communal hatred and terrifying riots broke out between the Hindus and the Muslims. On May 1st, 1960 Gujarat was separated from the State of Bombay and Ahmedabad was named the new state capital of Gujarat. Later the capital was shifted to Gandhinagar. In the ensuing years Ahmedabad became the breeding ground for some of the most well known education institutes, industries, information technology, business, art, music and culture, activism and social development organizations.