Historic City of Ahmedabad


The Historic City of Ahmadabad is located on the eastern bank of the Sabarmati River, close to the ancient trade route connecting Delhi to Khambhat, and on the route to the port of Surat on the Arabian Sea.

The walled city of Ahmadabad, founded by Sultan Ahmad Shah in the 15th century, presents a rich architectural heritage from the sultanate period, notably the Bhadra citadel, the walls and gates of the Fort city and numerous mosques and tombs as well as important Hindu and Jain temples of later periods. The urban fabric is made up of densely-packed traditional houses (pols) in gated traditional streets (puras) with characteristic features such as bird feeders, public wells and religious institutions. The city continued to flourish as the capital of the State of Gujarat for six centuries, up to the present.

Sultanate architecture from the fifteenth century is characterised by the fusion of Islamic elements and local Jain and Hindu building traditions, which are manifested in the Bhadra Fort, the city walls and gates, the Jama Masjid, the mausoleums of the royal family, and other mosques and minarets. Ahmadabad is also an important city of Mughal architecture from the late 16th and early 17th centuries, with particular contributions of buildings and gardens by Shah Jahan during his residence in Ahmadabad as the Mughal Suba. These were early prototypes for his constructions in Agra when he became emperor.

The historic city of Ahmadabad also includes important Jain and Hindu temples from the Maratha and British periods, such as the Ajitnath Jain Temple and the Swaminarayana Temple.

The urban fabric consists of densely populated neighbourhoods (puras) around main streets (pols) and controlled by inner entrances to the pol (khadki). A pol includes between 50-100 closely-packed houses that share side walls and produce an homogenous urban fabric. Traditional houses (pol houses) are built using composite construction techniques with timber and brick-lime. They contain courtyards, water storage systems and richly embellished façades with intricate decorations, including carvings of religious symbolism which gave rise to characteristic domestic architecture in western India.

The urban public spaces of the pol are characterised by vibrant street life, public buildings, religious buildings, community wells, bird feeders (chabutaro) and richly decorated wooden residential facades.

The timber-based architecture of the historic city is of exceptional significance and is the most unique aspect of its heritage and demonstrates its significant contribution to cultural traditions, to arts and crafts, to the design of structures and the selection of materials, and to its links with myths and symbolism that emphasized its cultural connections with the occupants. The typology of the city’s domestic architecture is an important example of regional architecture with a community-specific function and a family lifestyle that forms an important part of its heritage.

The presence of institutions belonging to many religions (Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, etc.) makes the historic urban structure of the city an exceptional and even unique example of multicultural coexistence.

Criterion (ii): The historic architecture of the city of the 15th century Sultanate period exhibited an important interchange of human values over its span of time which truly reflected the culture of the ruling migrant communities which were the important inhabitants of the city. Its settlement planning based on the respective tenets of human values and mutually accepted norms of communal living and sharing exhibited a great sense of settlement planning which is unique for the historic city. Its monumental buildings representative of the religious philosophy exemplified the best of the crafts and technology which actually saw growth of an important regional Sultanate architectural expression which is unparalleled in India. In order to establish their dominance in the region the Sultanate rulers recycled the parts and elements of local religious buildings to reassemble those into building of mosques in the city. Many new ones were also built in the manner of smaller edifices with maximum use of local craftsmen and masons allowing them the full freedom to employ their indigenous craftsmanship in a way that the resultant architecture developed a unique Sultanate idiom unknown in other part of the subcontinent where local traditions and crafts were accepted in religious buildings of Islam, even if they did not strictly follow the tenets for religious buildings in Islam. The monuments of Sultanate period thus provide a unique phase of development of architecture and technology for monumental arts during the 15th century period of history of western India.

Criterion (v): Ahmadabad city’s settlement planning in a hierarchy of living environment with street as also a community space is representative of the local wisdom and sense of strong community bondage. The house as a self-sufficient unit with its own provisions for water, sanitation and climatic control (the court yard as the focus) as a functional unit and its image and conception with religious symbolism expressed through wood carving and canonical bearings is the most ingenious example of habitat. This when adopted by the community as an acceptable agreeable form, generated an entire settlement pattern with once again community needs expressed in its public spaces at the settlement level. These in terms of a gate with community control, a religious place and a bird-feeder and a community well were constituents of the self-sufficient settlement of ‘pol’. Thus Ahmadabad’s settlement patterns of neighbouring close-packed pol provide an outstanding example of human habitation.





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