The Makers of Modern Ahmedabad: Sardar Patel, breaking the walls and expanding the city beyond

The Makers of Modern Ahmedabad: Sardar Patel, breaking the walls and expanding the city beyond

Wondering how Patel persuaded Amdavadis to expand the city beyond the walled area and create a modern and urban cityscape? Discover the story here!

Ahmedabad, like many historic cities adapting to modern changes, boasts two distinctive facets: the Old City with its Havelis, Pols, Chabutaras, heritage sites, and architecture, and the burgeoning new Ahmedabad characterized by towering high-rises, flyovers, expansive roads, and infrastructure.

Have you ever wondered who first envisioned the idea of expanding the city beyond the fortified walls erected by past rulers? Well, it was none other than the man who played a pivotal role in uniting our nation: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Serving as President of Ahmedabad Municipality, he successfully 'dismantled the walls', paving the way for a modern Ahmedabad.

Moving past the walled city, stepping towards a modern Ahmedabad!

Divyesh Nagar

Sardar Patel's political journey began in 1917 as a corporator in Ahmedabad Municipality, and by February 1924, he assumed the role of the President. His transformative leadership ushered in remarkable changes, including a groundbreaking 33% reservation for women in the municipal council and the development of peripheral roads around the existing city. However, it was his unwavering conviction to expand beyond the limitations of the walled city that left an indelible mark on Ahmedabad.

Recognizing the confines of the 5.8 sq km walled city and the surging population from 1.28 lakh in 1872 to 2.74 lakh in 1921, Sardar Patel felt the need for expansion beyond the walled areas. Despite facing opposition, he articulated a compelling vision, emphasizing that breaking down walls and expanding horizons were essential for the unhindered development of Ahmedabad.

Professor Rizwan Kadri, a researcher on Sardar, reflects on the opposition: "There was much opposition to the move. But Sardar stuck to his guns and finally won over the populace by saying that until we break down the walls and expand our horizons, our development will remain inhibited."

His foresight triumphed, and the once-uninhabited areas outside the walled city transformed into vibrant communities. Villages like Paldi, Madalpur, Vadaj, and Vastrapur, and the surrounding jungles and scattered farms, embraced urbanization. Sardar's initial stride across the Sabarmati River, embodied in the Ellisbridge town planning scheme, set the stage for the city's modern expansion, even involving the persuasive engagement of farmers who had to part with their lands.

In essence, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel planted the seeds of a new, modern Ahmedabad, and it is to this visionary leader that the city owes its transformative journey.

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