The Watch

Ahmedebad Walled City

Ahmedabad, India

1998 World Monuments Watch

At first glance, the provincial capital city of Ahmedabad seems healthy. There is a teeming commercial core – the Manek Chowk – and strongly defined residential pols or neighborhoods. But, in fact, the city's traditional mercantile economy is eroding, which is leading to a neglect of the pols. Courtyard houses with elaborate wood carvings that are a synthesis of Gujarat and Muslim cultures, as well as majestic gateways leading to the Jumma Masjid (Great Mosque) and palace, are decaying and being encroached upon by poorly planned development. Incongruous new elements have been tacked on to traditional dwellings. Since inception, Ahmedabad has been a prosperous metropolis of merchants, weavers, and craftsmen. In 1817 the city experienced a rush to industrialism, eventually earning it the moniker of Manchester of India. The demolition of the great city walls 60 years ago left Ahmedabad without boundaries and the resulting growth has been ad hoc. A strongly defined and enforced strategic plan for the region could reestablish the city's built and historic integrity.

Since the Watch

In 1997, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation introduced the Heritage Walk of Ahmedabad, traversing the historic city. In addition, measures were initiated to prevent encroachment on important monuments, upgrade roads, and maintain public areas. The earthquake that struck Gujarat in 2001 demonstrated the superior seismic resistance of the city's traditional buildings over modern ones. In 2009, a civic group was formed by local real estate developers who committed to invest in the restoration of historic buildings within the old walled city. Bolstered by this momentum the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and the Archaeological Survey of India agreed to cooperate for the revitalization of Ahmedabad's historic neighborhoods and to manage jointly the city's monuments. The agreement was formalized in 2011, the year in which the historic city celebrated the six-hundredth anniversary of its founding.

In July 2017, the Historic City of Ahmedabad was inscribed to UNESCO's World Heritage List. 

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