Historic city of Ahmadabad

Date of Submission: 31/03/2011
Criteria: (ii)(iii)(vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delevation of India to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Gujarat
Coordinates: Latitude-23°00'; Longitude-72°35'
Ref.: 5616
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party

Description

Historical Information on the city: (Ref: Soundara Rajan, K. v., 1980. Archaeological Survey of India New Delhi)

Ahmadabad city located on Latitude-23°00'; Longitude-72°35', reputed as 'Manchester' of India, is a busy industrial city situated in cotton-growing hinterland north of Gulf of Cambay, about 100 km upstream of the mouth of the Sabarmati river. This textile town has a veneer of modernity, which has all but hidden the five centuries of eventful history it had had, to which many magnificent mosques and ornate tombs of its medieval masters bear mute testimony. Well connected by road, rail and air to the other towns, Ahmadabad is a curious amalgam of conservative traditions and cosmopolitan trends. The more recent and no less historic, political associations of the city with national leaders have added to its stature. While the erstwhile fortified town and its major suburban growth were restricted to the left bank of Sabarmati, in recent times the city has extended itself to the right bank of the river as well and both parts being well-connected with series of sturdy bridges spanning the river which is liable to swell its banks in the rainy season. Its location as a convenient focal point on the Gujarat land strip lent it in the bygone centuries a vantage position for civil as well as military control. In the realm of medieval Indian architecture, it has indeed an assured place by its significant contributions to the combination of HinduJaina and Islamic modes, and by superb artistry of the carved exteriors of the monuments. To the casual tourist, many ofAhmadabad's monuments may seem to lack elegance, encumbered as they often are by drab and totally indiscriminate accretions to them, and modem installations around and within them. But with a modicum of generous consideration for a city that has overgrown itself, the beauty and ingenuity of many a dome, screen, or minar composition of the edifices will in any case be appreciated.

The foundations of the city of Ahmadabad were laid by Ahmad Shah with benedictions of his spiritual preceptor, Shaikh Ahmad Khattu Ganj Bakhsh of Sarkhej. Indeed, the Mirat-i-Ahmedi, datable to A.D. 1750, seems to testify to the deep sanctity that was attached to the selection of the site by stating that the ceremony was conducted by four Ahmads of the realm of great piety (not excluding the Sultan himself and his saint of Sarkhej) and was further helped by twelve Qalandar faquirs who were the direct disciples of the saint Hazrat Nizam-ud-DinAuliya of Delhi.

Thus on site of Asawal, soon after AD. 1411 came to be erected the oldest extant fortification ofthe city, viz., the square Bhadra (The name ofBhadra does not in any way bear any relationship to the very much, more recent  Bhadrakali shrine near its eastern gate, since the very structure in which the temple is 10cated,1 viz. A'zam Khan's palace, was erected not much before AD. 1637 during the time of Shah Jahan, whose viceroy A'Zam Khan was) towers, which with massive form included the royal citadel on an area of about 16 hectares. The fortifications ofAhmadabad in their entirety were, however, not built in one single reign.: It is indeed reasonable to presume that Sultan Ahmad, preoccupied as he was with constant expeditions, would have hard such leisure as to build a larger campus than that of the Bhadra fort in his reign. The major part of it was completed, as we are informed by Firishta, in AD 1486-87, after the conquest of: Champaner during the time ofMahmud Begada the names ofwhose four noble men are also borne by the Daryapur, Kalupur, Sarangpur and Jamalpur gates. The well preserved city-walls, nearly 10 km in circuit, comprised, according to Mirat-i-Ahmadi, twelve gates, one hundred and thirty nine towers, nine corners. and over six thousand battlements. On the north were Shahpur, Delhi (or Idaria) and Daryapur gates; on the east, Kalupur, Sarangpur and Raipur gates; on south Astodiya, jamalpur and (closed) Dhediya gates; and on the west Khan-i-Jahan, Raykhad and Khanpur gates. (Two more gates were added in the last: century, the Premabhai gate, on the north-east, in 1864, and the Panchkuva gate, on the east, in 1871) Abu'l-Fadl, Firishta and Amin-i-Ahmad-i-Razi, the Persian author of Haft-Iqlim ('the seven climes') all had lavish praise for the prosperity and the grandeur of conception ofAhmadabad fort-city. That it was said to have had three hundred and sixty puras or mahallas, each a self contained town by itself with all amenities, is an impressive index indeed of the thriving population and the city that Ahmadabad should have been.

The later periods, especially early nineteenth century (British took over the city's administration in 1818 A D.) also experienced the enterprising zeal and maturity of local merchants turning towards the textile industry as this was also a period when the British had positioned themselves as industrialized Rulers slowly converting the local character by introducing such changes in methods of productions. Ahmedabad region being the centre of cotton production and trade the British Agency found this to be the source of raw material to provide for the needs of the textile industry back home by exporting cotton produces and also dyes from here to their home country. Some of the adventurous merchants saw in this an opportunity and ventured into establishing the Textile mills by importing the machinery from England and thus one of the first textile mills was established here in 1861 AD. by Late Sri Ranchhodlal Chhotalal. This was the turning point in the city's history and by the end of the 19th century the city was already known as Manchester of India. This was also a true testimony of the spirit of enterprise of the local merchants and the kind of transformation they could affect to the otherwise sleepy merchant and trade centre. This also charted a path for the future of the city's changing character and rapid expansion.

The subsequent phases of the development of the city reflected the contemporary influences and the post symbolism Sultanate period maintained the pace with contemporary needs. Ahmedabad always had progressive and powerful nobility, which was prepared to absorb new currents, and the merchant associations were powerful patrons. The new cultural institutions promoted by them thus were awaiting new, contemporary expressions. Many new Institutions related to Textile Industries were promoted by the Merchants Guild, who now also represented the Industrialists. The British also recognized the enterprising quality of the local merchant class and helped develop the city and its public infra-structure (establishing Municipal; administration in 1858 AD.) and introduced newer educational and civic institutions, which saw the city,' transform itself into a progressive industrial centre with adequate facilities for education and learning. The establishment of Railway between Bombay and Ahmedabad in 1864 AD. saw a sea change in the expansion of the city's trade and commerce. The establishment of these institution also saw emergence of new areas for the city and it's planning and realizations controlled through the then modem Townl Planning models and laws. This saw the development of the western side of the river and new areas emerging as the city started expanding west wards. The growth of the newer city followed the British Town planning practices but lost track with its origin and the new expansions along with the new planning guidelines emerged as a conglomeration of successively expanding areas with its own pressures for its emergence, somehow loosing the continuity and character the historic city showed over its almost five hundred years' evolving history of consolidation. (References: SEMINAR: Special Issue on Gujarat. October 1998, Evolving Architectural Traditions. R. J. Vasavada ,Studies on History of Ahmedabad : Prof. R. N. Mehta and Prof. Rasesh Jamindar, Dept of History, Gujarat Vidyapith Department of Archaeology Publications, Government of Gujarat)

The historic city of Ahmadabad is constituted out of residential settlements 'Pol' and has a specific scale of its community based settlement grouping. Several of such settlements combined together forms a 'Pur' neighborhood and the historic city has several 'Pur' neighborhoods forming the entire fortified historic city. These various 'Pur' have its own urban structure which is self sufficient for the communities, where each 'Pol' once again is a self sufficient unit. In as much as the individual 'Pol' is an entity by itself, the 'Pur' also is an entity at a larger scale and so the progression goes further and makes the city comprising of such entities giving it a homogeneous urban form which is characterized by the 'Pur' the 'Pol' and by a house. This intrinsically emergent character is the key to the identity and associations that play an important role in a socially defined urban form which is a living historic cultural heritage. Ahmadabad has a rich heritage of settlement patterns in its historic old town, which was populated by a large merchant community in various community settlements following different religions. Ahmadabad's multicultural communities lend a distinct character to its settlement patterns and its built environment which always had the religious institutions as its core around which the settlement patterns grew.

The house form, the grouping of houses and the hierarchy of its access ways formed an extremely secure and homogeneous settlement pattern, which even today provides an excellent example of community living and urbanity based on cultural identity and sense of collective agreement in its formation. The communities advocated a living in tune with religious practices and sharing as the basis for their welfare and at the level of the house form this was amply expressed by the treatment of the facade and entrance areas which provided a gradual transition space which allowed the occupants to socialize with outside and also create a distinct zone of spaces for the houses to distinguish between the public and private areas of family living. This attitude provided a very important facade expression which resulted into the elaborate wooden architecture of the town. The attitude to embellish the wooden architecture with intricate carvings and symbolism akin to the religious buildings gave rise to a very important expression of domestic architecture in western India, which has also established a very important phase of characteristic architecture in western India. The house form was designed as a corollary to temples as house was also seen as a temple in their belief to emulate spirituality in daily life. In many cases, the houses also became places of worship depending upon the benevolence of the owners. Architecture of religious institutions assumes important significance in built environment in any culture as representative of the sum total of its cultural identity and image.

The places of worship are conceptualized with highest imaginative skills to represent the associative and built with the best available skills employing long lasting materials and techniques and building skills. This form of architecture then becomes a source of inspiration in all its meanings to inspire the people and influence their own built environment.

The core zones selected for nomination exemplify the significant zones with historic character which is still preserved. This is also based on the survey of properties under taken earlier this decade when the major survey work was done. Based on this identification, the present core zones are marked. The historic city is also dotted with 29 ASI monuments which have their own regulated zones which are now controlled by the ASI in terms of their developments. The core zones and buffer zones identified are linked through associated buffer zones which are in form of a serial link which cover the important areas of the historic city. The gates are already under ASI regulation and so also the Bhadra Fort. The areas selected still need to be detailed further.

The list of areas covered under the core and buffer zones is as follows:

Proposed Core/Buffer zones in the walled city of Ahmedabad (Refer the Map of Historic city, attached here in this submission)

The following areas are under present survey and are shown as reference point only. The Kalupur is already under survey and similarly other areas are being re-surveyed. These areas are expected to be added and restudied during the further work and would be attended to in detail while preparing the Dossier in due course.

I). Dariyapur -I

Protection zone Core -Vestiges of fort walls, Vadigaam and its constituent sub units. Protection zone Buffer -Nagina Vad to the south, road bordering footwalls in the north east.

2). Dariyapur -I & Kalupur -I

Protection zone Core -Between Kalupur road and Chandan Talavdi -Bhanderi pol, Kumbhar ni khadki, Pathan Wasa, Pada pol, Nani Balucha Vad, Moti Balucha Vad, Golvad, Champu Sali ni pol, Waghri wad, Protection Dandigara ni pol, tambugara ni khadki.

Protection zone Buffer -Poptia wad, Sodagar ni pol

3). Shahpur -II, Dariapur -II & Kalupur -III Protection zone Core -Moti Hamam ni pol, Panchbhai ni pol, jhadabhagat ni pol, Swaminaraya D' temple complex, Pinjara wad, Ranchodji ni pol, Timba pol, Hanumanvali pol, Targala wad, Navo vad, Lambeshwar ni pol,

Protection zone Buffer -Nava vas pol, Pipardi ni pol, Shahivada ni pol, Bakari pol, Ranchhodji ni pol, Panjra pol, nagarsheth no vando etc.

4). Kalupur -II, Protection zone Core -Doshiwada ni pol, chomukhji ni pol, Shantinath ni pol, Nisha poI, Kasumba vad, Khara kuva ni pol, Calico dome, Ramji mandir ni pol, Vaghan pol, Kothari pol, Zaveri Vad, Gosaimaharaj' poI, Padshah ni pol, etc.

Protection zone Buffer -Tankshal ni pol, Haja patel ni pol, Timba pol, Amtha gujar ni khadki, Ravakali' ni khadki, manji ni pol.

5). Kalupur -I, Protection zone Core -Mamu naik ni pol Protection zone Buffer -Raja Mehta ni pol, Pada pol, Tankshal ni pol

6). Khadia -III, Protection zone Core -Fatasa pol, Lakha Patel ni pol, Mirabai's pol, Sankdi Sheri, Gangadhiya ni pol, Haribhakti ni pol, Zhupdi Khadki, Ragnath pol, khijda ni pol, Shamji thavar ni pol, Lala vasa ni pol'i Hajira ni pol, Goti Sheri, Seth ni pol, moto suthar wado

Protection zone Buffer -Khetar pal ni pol, Pushkarni ni pol, Amrutlal ni pol, Jethabhai ni pol, Pipla pol, Kavishwar ni pol, sadmata pol.

7). Khadia -I, Protection zone Core -Pakhali ni pol, lamba pada ni pol, pipardi ni pol, Bagdavad, Bhavani pol,Brahmapuri, Fafda ni pol, Talia ni pol.

Protection zone Buffer -A restrained territory including a few houses or interesting junctions in relation to the core zone comprising portions ofkumbhar vad, kapadi vad, Ranchhodji ni pol, Mahalakshmi ni pol.

8). Khadia -II,  Protection zone Core -Dhal ni pol, Jamnadas ni khadki, Pana nagar ni khadki, Dev ni sheri, Fakir sheri, Jagabhai ni pol, Kayashth sheri, Khara kuva ni pol, Shamla ni pol, Akasheth kuva ni pol, Wagheswar pol  

Protection zone buffer -Portions of Pipli pol, Sutharwada pol, Gol vad, Bada pol, haldarwala khadki, I1l Dharawalo khancho, Upli sheri, nichli sheri, Vachli sheri, Koth ni pol, Muth ni pol, Kameshwar ni pol etc.

9) Jamalpur - II,  Protection zone Core -Jami masjid, Kings' and Queens' tombs, Mandvi ni pol axis and its sub pols "ara pol, Lalabhai pol, Girdharwala khadki, Nagji bhudar ni pol, Hira Gandhi pol, Chhipa Mavji ni pol, Samat shikhar ni pol, Surdas sheth ni pol, Harkishandas sheth ni pol, kaka balwant ni pol, Gatrad pol, utaria pol, Soni pol, motibhai ni khadki, mali ni khadki, Vichchi ni pol,

Protection zone Buffer -Portions of Ghunsa parekh ni pol, dhan pipli, Derasar khadki, nada vali pol, Bhanchi pol, Kalupur fruit market, Danapith, Ahmedabad municipal corporation offices, etc.

10) Raikhad, Protection zone Core -Gaikwad haveli fort, vestiges of city wall barbican and Khanjahan darwaja.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Ahmadabad's walled city has a history of last six centuries. It has a unique settlement which has acquired significant importance for its patterns and homogeneity of community living which is characteristic of .its economic reliance on trade and commerce since centuries. This has now bestowed on us a priceless heritage of urban living which is traditionally unique.

The value of the traditional heritage is enormous:

1. It represents a unique lesson in city's settlement formation (pol) and its basic constituent, the traditional house with carved wooden facades.

2. Its wealth of traditional wisdom represented in its physical settlements is a rich resource of cultural heritage, characteristic of this merchant community and their preference for tasteful life ordained through their religion.

3. Its wealth of wooden architecture of settlements is also a great heritage for which the city is well known since centuries and is considered a storehouse of integrated crafts which extended from block making for textile printing to some of the finest expressions in traditional houses and temple building arts.

4. Its economic enterprise sustaining the city and state, its wisdom in financial expertise and its guild tradition for community co-existence, leading to a world class status in textiles in 19th century

5. Its institutional building traditions and record of civic architecture, leading later on to attract world renowned architects to come to the city to build institutions of world repute and excellence.

Criteria met [see Paragraph 77 ofthe Operational Guidelines]: (ii), (iii), (vi).

Criteria (ii) The historic architecture of the city exhibited an important interchange of human values over its span of time which truly reflected the culture of the communities which were the important inhabitants of the city. Its settlement planning through mutually accepted norms of communal living and sharing and its monumental buildings representative of the religious philosophy exemplified the best of the crafts and technology which actually saw growth of a regional architectural expression which is unparallel in India. Ahmadabad city's planning in a hierarchy of living environment with street also as a community space is representative of the local wisdom and sense of strong community bondage. The traditional house became a generator of the settlement known as 'pol'. 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, a bird-feeder and a community well were constituents of the self-sufficient settlement of 'pol'. In a variation of this within different culture of the communities in the old city the Mosque and the community Halls became the public areas within. Though the internal arrangement complied with socio-cultural demands, the construction materials, the craft expressions and the techniques of construction achieved a tremendous harmony in its settlement forms which resulted in a unified living environment which was climatically conducive of a very appropriate living environment. 

Criteria (iii) The city's settlements and traditional house forms bear an eloquent testimony to the cultural traditions of various socio-religious bearing and have given a unique identity to the settlement which is world famous for its craft traditions and local wisdom in establishing a social order which emanated from their beliefs and adherence to the values enshrined in it. 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 is one of the most important values.

Criteria (vi) The city's culture has been replete with traditions of its enterprising communities which were frontline traders and merchants, irrespective of the irreligious bearings. The major economic dependence of the cities merchant class was on the textile production in later centuries.

In earlier periods the trading communities had been involved in trading of cotton and related materials. The region around Ahmadabad was one of the richest cotton producing area and the cotton produced here was of very high quality and was even being exported. This is even today regarded as an important agricultural produce with great value. Historically, it was even known for indigo and paper. The various trades practiced here also supported ingenious craft communities which excelled in various crafts. Printing, dying, block making and all related activities flourished here. The enterprising spirit and business acumen of the people became the exemplary hall mark of the citizens of this city and some of them were even considered by Moguls as economic advisers for Delhi Court. In succeeding periods the city also became a place for residence of highly acclaimed literary figures, both of national and regional fame. (especially, Kavi Dalpatram a 19th century Poet of great repute, who even became a very close friend and confidant of the British Officer Alexander Forbes the then District Officer. Alexander Forbes was instrumental in compiling one of the most important 19 century historical writings published as 'RasMala' which is considered as one of the most important source of contemporary history of Gujarat. In later years the literary circles even established Farbas Sabha in his memory to continue the literary works which is even today active doing significant work). The city in last century also was the centre of industrial enterprise and even made British agencies aware of their potentials. It also provided the most important leadership for the Indian Freedom struggle and at the same time it also took leadership in city governance in pre-independence era. The spirit of the city though backed by orthodox traditions has remained very progressive due to their mercantile contacts with the cultures across the sea. The city's culture also is one of the best examples of the multi-cultural traditions which have coexisted which stands as its outstanding universal value. In terms of city's culture and public life, the people of the city have offered luminaries of India in literature, arts, industry, trade and commerce form historic times, including two of the most important national leaders of the country. 

Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore has even lived in the city and produced some of his most poetic writings here while living in the mansion built by Moguls on the river bank. India's most import struggle for independence also originated here when Mahatma Gandhi made this city his home in his formative period. His associations within the historic city first and then at a wealthy merchant's house' Kocharab are preserved in his memory His Ashram here which he conceived as a model for Indian way life on the banks of Sabarmati river is a global pilgrimage place. This was the place he wanted to develop as an ideal set up for demonstrating the Indian way of life. He left from here to start the famous Dandi March which really marked the struggle for Independence Movement in India.

During the last century, some of the most important international masters, artists and architects, have also made Ahmadabad as their most important base for their creations. This has continued the evolving nature of this historic city which has now become an important growing metropolis of the country an this is all the more reason to acquire its much needed World Heritage City Status which can safeguard  

Criteria (vi) The city's culture has been replete with traditions of its enterprising communities which were frontline traders and merchants, irrespective of the irreligious bearings. The major economic dependence of the cities merchant class was on the textile production in later centuries.

In earlier periods the trading communities had been involved in trading of cotton and related materials. The region around Ahmadabad was one of the richest cotton producing area and the cotton produced here was of very high quality and was even being exported. This is even today regarded as an important agricultural produce with great value. Historically, it was even known for indigo and paper. The various trades practiced here also supported ingenious craft communities which excelled in various crafts. Printing, dying, block making and all related activities flourished here. The enterprising spirit and business acumen of the people became the exemplary hall mark of the citizens of this city and some of them were even considered by Moguls as economic advisers for Delhi Court. In succeeding periods the city also became a place for residence of highly acclaimed literary figures, both of national and regional fame. (especially, Kavi Dalpatram a 19th century Poet of great repute, who even became a very close friend and confidant of the British Officer Alexander Forbes the then District Officer. Alexander Forbes was instrumental in compiling one of the most important 19 century historical writings published as 'RasMala' which is considered as one of the most important source of contemporary history of Gujarat. In later years the literary circles even established Farbas Sabha in his memory to continue the literary works which is even today active doing significant work). The city in last century also was the centre of industrial enterprise and even made British agencies aware of their potentials. It also provided the most important leadership for the Indian Freedom struggle and at the same time it also took leadership in city governance in pre-independence era. The spirit of the city though backed by orthodox traditions has remained very progressive due to their mercantile contacts with the cultures across the sea. The city's culture also is one of the best examples of the multi-cultural traditions which have coexisted which stands as its outstanding universal value. In terms of city's culture and public life, the people of the city have offered luminaries of India in literature, arts, industry, trade and commerce form historic times, including two of the most important national leaders of the country.

Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore has even lived in the city and produced some of his most poetic writings here while living in the mansion built by Moguls on the river bank. India's most import struggle for independence also originated here when Mahatma Gandhi made this city his home in his formative period. His associations within the historic city first and then at a wealthy merchant's house' Kocharab are preserved in his memory His Ashram here which he conceived as a model for Indian way life on the banks of Sabarmati river is a global pilgrimage place. This was the place he wanted to develop as an ideal set up for demonstrating the Indian way of life. He left from here to start the famous Dandi March which really marked the struggle for Independence Movement in India.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

"It should be noted that the tenor of development and expansion of artistic activities has been mainly governed by the outlook of its people, which was essentially religious. The development of various branches of art has, therefore, taken place around this central objective, viz., dedication of all that is noble and high at the altar of the Supreme Being. It was for this reason that art found its highest expression in Hindu and Jain Temples, which is the house of God and not in palaces and mansions of man. Among the follower of Islam, the religious aspect blended as it was with material happiness gave impetus not only the construction of mosques but also to palaces, mansions and mausoleums. It was this fundamental difference in basic approach which has guided the pursuit of all literary and cultural activities in Gujarat. He all activities were directed towards the construction of the temples, literary and cultural activities found expression in religious treatises, devotional songs and poems. But in the later times, with the change in people's approach and outlook, religion receded in the background and temple building activities came to a standstill. And the common man became the focus of all progressive activities artistic as well as cultura1." (Ref: Special Report on Ahmedabad, R K Trivedi, 1962 pp23)

The authenticity of the historic city's settlement is described in its overall significant cultural attributes. The attitude to houses and settlements in historic city emanated from the adherence to socio-religious followings of different communities. For the Jaina community the temple was treated as a house of God and due to this the temple also inspired the making of a house in the same image. It was similar for predominant Muslim communities. The plan of the house followed their approach to their own life styles and somehow though the courts became an important climatic element, the plan organization displayed their own functional attitudes of positioning various facilities in order of their living preferences. The financial criteria for the house building necessitated preference for affordable materials and thereby preference for timber in construction instead of stone which was much more expensive. However, in the approach to adorning the facade did reflect the same penchant for ideal expression which exhibited a rare sense of integrity towards the culture. This level of integrity is rarely seen in such a scale at the overall settlement level as is seen in historic city of Ahmadabad.

The culture of the city is credibly expressed in the settlement form through the traditional houses which attribute; (Para 82)

  • Form and design in terms of climatically most suitable with a house form exhibiting symbolically the character of the occupant. The design of the facade with projecting layers of upper storey to create a shaded street profile at settlement leve1. The entrance area with raised 'otla' forming the outdoor spaces along the streets 'pol' are also very characteristic of the life style of occupants highlighting sharing at community leve1.
  • The use of timber and local bricks in a composite construction also was a unique approach in construction with houses sharing the side walls.
  • The houses were designed with an internal courtyard which actually controlled the climate of the house.

But symbolically it was articulating nature within a living environment which made the house a complete habitat unit with its own environment and self contained function with its own water harvesting and disposals. The areas for use were also distinctly planned in terms of family hierarchy of relationship with the outside world. The public areas of the house were in the front, the family areas in the rear and more private areas on the upper floors.

  • The Street and settlement patterns were generated through a community oriented planning, with shared areas for usage and certain symbolic elements as collective needs for community functions like bird feeders, well and a shrine for daily worship. The unique system of managing community affairs was through a 'panch' which comprised of five representatives who would take care of all the community's organizational needs in maintaining and sustaining the community's interests.
  • The locations of important communities were in the proximity of the important zones of the town. Each communith had an entrance gate (where 'panch' office was situated on upper level( which controlled the inner settlement. There were always right of ways and secret access and exits through the 'pol' which were necessary to link the communities internally even if the main entrances were closed.

(Para88): The attitude to houses and settlements also emanated from the adherence to socio-religious considerations. The temple was treated as a house and due to this the temple also inspired the making of a house in the same image. The affordability criteria for the house building necessitated preference for affordable materials and thereby preference for timber in construction instead of stone which was much the same penchant for ideal expression which exhibited a rare sense of integrity towards the culture. This level of integrity is rarely seen in such a scale at the overall settlement level as is seen in historic city of Ahmadabad.

(Para89): The Heritage Cell through AMC is already working on Restoration of the properties and the AMC has undetaken this measure to control the process of deterioration. Through such intervention the AMC is planning to safeguard the listed properties in the historic city and preserve these in their original condition so that the character is retained.

Comparison with other similar properties

The immediate comparison available to Ahmadabad is the historic town of Melaka - Georgetown in Malaysia and the historic city of Lyon in France. This also is because of the similarity in Melaka's founding period which dates back to 15th century. Lyon is more historic but its substantial expansion dates back to 15th century. Like Ahmadabad, Melaka- Georgetown and the historic city of Lyon are merchant and trading towns, though the geographic locations differ in its character the population's main economic base has been similar, that is trade and commerce. Melaka and Lyon both since their founding have been multi-cultural towns like Ahmadabad and were also planned similarly with each community having their own defined settlements. The evolutionary trends in these towns also are comparable where the cities retained their homogeneity and traditions and graduated into their evolving phases retaining their traditions. The following points mark a comparative proposition for these towns with Armedabad.  

1. Melaka/Georgetown(Malaysia) and Ahmadabad

(Date: listed in 1998. Ref for Melaka: Evaluation of Cultural Properties, prepared by ICOMOS, Dr. Yahiya Bin Ahmad) 

  • From Historic point of view, both cities illustrate development of settlements of diverse cultural groups in the layering of the present cities.
  • The architecture of the houseform and settlements illustrate application of various influences during the successive periods of external influences brought in by their trade and mercantile exposures to other cultures.
  • The architectural styles which are the central feature of the entire settlement parttern in both exhibits a very rich heritage while comparing with the other cities in their respective regions.
  • In both cases the house forms exhibit a strong cultural trait which characterizes their architecture which is unique and which in case of Armadabad also influenced the regional traditions.
  • The intangible heritage out of which the heritage of the settlement emerged is also an important feature of the cultural traits illustrating the fusion of different multi-cultural identity in both cases.  

2. The historic site of Lyon, Rhone-Alpes, France  

(Date: listed in 1998. Reference dated 10th July 1997: UNESCO website: whc.unesco.org/nomination file for historic site of Lyons/originally prepared by the city of Lyon)

The special quality of the historic site of Lyon derives from its exceptional setting, on two hills at the Influence of two rivers, combined with the material manifestation of its way of life through its town plan and its architecture.

  • By the mid 15th century it was one of the mostly heavily populated cities in Europe, with some 65,000 inhabitants.
  • The wealth of Lyon and its worldwide mercantile contacts attracted 28 banks from the Far East to the as well as encouraging the creation of banking institutions by the Lyonnais themselves.
  • The life-style of Lyon is an original one: its social codes come from a community of merchants, of enterprising townspeople, who are fiercely independent, combining seriousness, a taste for taking risks, and a sense of reality with idealism. Preferring substance to style, Lyonnais society has always conscientiously and resolutely adapted its way of life to its aspirations.
  • Being oriented willingly to economic and social expansion, it has always eschewed any form of ostentation. Its sights have been directed in a rational manner towards change and fashion, which has enabled Lyon to preserve continuity in its way of life and to pass this on with remarkable authenticity.
  • The historic site of Lyon may be regarded as "an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement," which combines an exceptional site with an urban continuity that is remarkable for its harmony.
  • The unusual homogeneity of the urban fabric that strikes the eye results from harmony in the architecture that goes beyond stylistic evolution and from the symbiosis between the natural site of the city and its urbanization.