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Glorious History of Ahmedabad

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Brief History

King Karandev – 1, the Solanki Ruler, had waged a war against the Bhil king of Ashapall or Ashaval. After his victory Karandev established the city called "Karnavati". This Hindu kingdom of Karnavati retained its importance till early 15th century when Gujarat fell to the Muslim Sultanate. This was when Sultan Ahmad Shah conquered Karnavati in 1411 A.D.

If legends are to be believed Sultan Ahmed Shah was astonished to see that the rabbits on the river bank, instead of running away in terror confronted his hounds in defiance. Believing the land to be sanctified he laid the foundation of Ahmedabad-"The city of Ahmed" at 1.20PM on Thursday the second day of jilkad A.H.(1411 A.D.)

The city enjoyed the position of royal capital for a period of about 162 years, 1411-1573 A.D. till the independent Sultanate of Gujarat came to an end in reign of Murzaffar-III.

As regards the location of the three towns of Ashaval,Karnavati and Ahmedabad ,Ferguson comments:

Modern investigation has not yet proceeded sufficiently far to enable it to be stated with certainty how far Karnavati was contiguous to or identical with Ashawal and Shreenaggur,both of which names occur in early records as those of a great city hereabouts,but there can be no doubt that the new town of Ahmed Shah, to which he gave the name Ahmedabad, and its suburbs, embraced them all.

Ahmedabad was built in an open and spacious plain in the immediate vicinity of Ashaval to the east of Sabarmati. It then comprised a smaller now known as the Bhadra Fort or the citadel of Bhadra. Other structures were added to its from time to time. The city was enclosed by a fortwall six miles in the circumference containing 12 gates, 189 bastions and over 6000 battlements in 1487 by Mohammed Begdo, the grandson of Ahmedshah, to protect it from outside invaders. It was planned according to the ancient Indo-Aryan tradition of a royal capital with main roads, thoroughfares and subsidiary roads.

Under the fostering care of the sultans of Gujarat , the city of Ahmedabad went on expanding in every direction by the addition of new localities and suburbs,on both the sides of river, and gradually rose into a well built city, with well-laid-out residential in marketing areas and beautified by palaces,mansions, mausoleums and mosques of reservoirs(lakes) and gardens erected by the noblemen of  the sultans and wealthy merchants of the capital.

Conditions of the province were chaotic in the time of Sultan Muzaffar III. Akbar, the great Moghul emperor, started out the Gujarat expedition and conquered it in 1573.Though Ahmedabad lost its importance as the capital of Gujarat during Moghul reign, it retained its importance as one of the thriving centres of trade in the country and chief city of Gujarat. The author of "Haft-Iqlim" (1593) refers to its fame as a grand and flourishing center of commerce and industry in the following words:

Ahmedabad is unique in the whole of India in matter of neatness and flourishing condition, and it is superior to other city in the excellence of its monuments. It would be no exaggeration to say that in the whole world there exists no town so grand and beautiful. Its streets are spacious and well arranged, unlike those in other towns, its shops with two or three stories each are finely built, and its inhabitants both men and women are graceful and delicate.

The moghul rulers that followed Aurangzeb were weak and the moghul viceroys(Subas) were busy fighting amongst themselves and with the Marathas. This resulted in disorder in the country, and from 1737 to 1753, there was a joint rule of Mughal Viceroy and the Peshwa over Ahmedabad. In 1753 the combined armies of Raghunath Rao and Damaji Gaeakwad took the citadel and brought an end of Mughal rule at Ahmedabad.

During the Maratha regime, Ahmedabad was for all intents and purposes divided into two halves , one into the hand of Peshwa and the other into the hands of Gaekwad,the jurisdiction exercised by the Peshwa being greater.The condition of Ahmedabad, during the 64-year-long Maratha rule went from bad to worse owing to the constant struggle between the Peshwa and the Gaekwad and the retrograde and oppressive policy pursued during this period. During this period of decline and insecurity that characterized 64 years of Maratha rule, suburbs were deserted, places and mansions were in ruinous state, roads in hopeless state of disrepair, and the fortwall that enclosed the city had fallen off at many places. The area outside Panchkuwa and Delhi gates was reduced to wilderness visited by wild animals like tiger which was hunted in the third decade of the 19th century in the mosque at mirzapur.

It was in 1818 when the British took over the administration of Ahmedabad,that the birthing period appeared.The British rule brought the benefits of peaceful and orderly administration. Ahmedabad gradually started coming into its own. The population of the city  which  has gone down to 80,000 in 1817,gradually went on growing from on decade to another. Cantonment was established in 1824. A Municipal  Committee was formed in 1834 and regular Municipal administration introduced in 1858. The railway link between Ahmedabad and Bombay was established during the year 1864. Thus, in view of such welfare activities and amenities provided in the public interest, the spirit of Ahmedabad,which was lying dormant in the preceding century, was now awakened and expressed itself in all walks of life. After a lapse of another century, destiny chose Ahmedabad to play an outstanding role in the country's struggle for freedom under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi who stated in the city of his return from South Africa in 1915 and established his famous Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati.

Today Ahmedabad is a unique city, even for India, for it blends harmoniously an ancient heritage with a vibrant present. A model city in terms of its ideals and aspirations, what is remarkable about Ahmedabad is its harmony between art and industry, between a reverence to the past and a vision for the future.

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