How Ahmedabad took the spotlight as India's first UNESCO World Heritage City
On July 8th, 2017, a remarkable moment unfolded as the Old City of Ahmedabad earned the prestigious title of India's first-ever UNESCO World Heritage City, outshining the likes of Mumbai and Delhi. While India boasts numerous heritage sites across its vast landscape, Ahmedabad stands as the sole Heritage City in the nation, a testament to its rich historical and architectural legacy.
A fusion of cultures and architecture
The architecture of Ahmedabad's Sultanate period monuments bears witness to a unique fusion, reflecting the city's multicultural character. This heritage extends beyond religious edifices to the intricate wooden architecture of its old residential neighborhoods, known as "havelis," and the gated residential main streets called "pols."
Founded by Sultan Ahmed Shah in the 15th century, Ahmedabad served as the former capital of Gujarat and ranks as the sixth largest city in India. Since the Sultanate era, it has been a prominent hub of Indo-Islamic architecture and Hindu-Muslim artistry.
Today, the people of Ahmedabad still inhabit centuries-old wooden havelis, preserving the essence of their history and heritage. Wander through the city's pols, and you'll discover houses frozen in time, retaining their original charm.
Beyond monuments, a tale of unity
However, Ahmedabad's distinction is not merely due to its architectural splendors, although it certainly has its share of those, with 2600 heritage sites and over 24 ASI-protected monuments within its walled city.
It also holds the pivotal role of being the center of the non-violent freedom struggle that ultimately led India to independence from colonial rule in 1947. Ahmedabad's nomination garnered widespread support from around 20 countries, all lauding the harmonious coexistence of its dominant Hindu, Islamic, and Jain communities within the Walled City area.
Moreover, Ahmedabad's historic urban landscape is a unique model of multicultural coexistence, with institutions representing various religions, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Judaism—all peacefully cohabiting within its intricate structure.
In essence, Ahmedabad's UNESCO World Heritage City status is a testament to its extraordinary historical, architectural, and cultural tapestry, a living tribute to its enduring legacy of unity in diversity and its pivotal role in India's journey towards freedom.