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Ahmedabad was the capital of the state of Gujarat until recently when the new capital at Gandhinagar, nearby was established. Gujarat is the site of one of the oldest civilizations in India. At Lothal, 85 kilometers or 53 miles south of Ahmedabad, the archaeologists unearthed in November, 1955, sixteen underground tombs that led to an interesting civilization which has many similarities to the famous pre-historic sites of Mohenjodaro and Harappa (in Pakistan). The name Lothal is derived from the Gujarati word “Loth” that means death. A port-city with a very sophisticated harbor, shops and markets, drainage system and 2 glazed earthen mummies-one Assyrian and the other Egyptian were some of remarkable discoveries from the Harappan period, about 3000 BCE. A brick structure measuring 710 feet long and 166 feet wide with about 10 feet high walls was another quite unique finding in this area. Remains of a later Aryan civilization were also found at this site. The site of this ancient civilization was devastated by a flood about 2000 BCE that could be the cause of its downfall. The coastal pilgrimage town of Dwarka was probably established in late Vedic period, it is associated with the adult life period of Krishna, the Hindu incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The state of Gujarat was part of the empire of Mauryan Emperor Ashoka in mid-third century BCE. A Rock-Edict of Emperor Ashoka bearing a royal ordinance was found in Junagarh. The Hun invaders ravaged this state in the fifth century CE. The oldest residents of the state are Gurjara tribals who arrived here from an area in the north known as Uttarakhand. Another very important historical Hindu site is further south of Dwarka at Somnath. It was one of the most patronized Hindu temples in India until it was raided and destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1026. The other important ancient Hindu site is the Sun Temple at Modhera. There are two very historic religious sites revered by the followers of Jain religion in the state, the temples of Girnar and Palitana. Being a coastal area bordering the Arabian Sea, Gujarat came in contact with foreigners very early in its history. The trade with Sumer and Babylon was later replaced by Greeks and Romans. With advent of Islam in Persia, the Zoroastrians sought refuge at Sanjan in 745 CE. In the fifteenth century Europeans led by the Portuguese started trading with the Gujaratis. The Dutch, French and finally the British established trading posts in the state. The British established their trading center in Bombay and merged the region of Gujarat with their territories around Bombay ending the separate identity of Gujarat.
Raja Karandev I of Solanki dynasty, ruler of Anhilwara (modern Patan), conquered Raja Ashapall or Ashaval, the Bhil Tribal ruler, to establish a city called Karanvati on the banks of Sabarmati River, at the site of modern Ahmedabad in 1074. His dynasty ruled the region until 13th century, when most of Gujarat came under the control of the Vaghela dynasty of Dwarka. Sultan Alauddin Khalji conquered Gujarat in 1297 and destroyed Temples of Aashavalli. In the early years of fifteenth century, the Islamic Muzaffarid dynasty controlled Gujarat. Sultan Ahmed Shah renamed Karnavati after his own name, Ahmedabad, when he established his capital here in 1411. This independent Sultanate lasted for 162 years from 1411 to 1573. Sultan Ahmed Shah laid the foundation of Manek Bhuraj (Manek Baug) and Gangeshbari. He completed the construction of Bhadra Fort in 1413 and of Jama Masjid in 1423. The Jama Masjid was the largest mosque in India at the time of its construction. Shah Jahan built the Jama Masjid in Delhi that is now the largest. This mosque has 300 pillars that divide it into 15 squares. Each of these squares is topped by a dome. The Hindu queen of Ahmed Shah built the Mosque of Rani Rupmati that has exquisitely carved facades and balconies in the typical Gujarat architecture that blended elements from Hindu and Islamic traditions. In 1441 the famous Sufi saint, Sheikh Ahmed Khatu passed away and the construction of Sarkhej Roza begun. It was completed in 1446 and has an exceptionally large dome and very exquisitely carved screens of brass. In 1451 Hauz-e-Qutub (Kankaria Lake) was constructed by Sultan Qutbuddin Aibak of Lalkot (Delhi). It was a favorite place of Mughal Emperor Jahangir and his beloved Empress Nur Jahan. In 1453 the Tomb of Daria Khan and the Dome were constructed. In 1454 the mosque with shaking minarets near Gomtipur was constructed. This was followed by the construction of Dada Hari Vav (Step well) in 1485. One year later in 1886 the city was fortified by building a high wall around it. This wall is six miles long and has 12 gates, 189 bastions and over 6000 battlements to protect it from outside invaders. The Adalaj Vav (Step well) with very fine stone carving was built in 1498. Barbosa, the Spanish traveler visited the city in 1514, the year in which Rani Sipri Mosque was constructed. Rani Sipri was the Hindu queen of Mahmood Begada. She constructed this mosque in memory of her son who was executed by her husband for misconduct. The Rani Sipri mausoleum is near this mosque. The avenue leading to the mausoleum of Shah Alam at Sarkhez is lined with trees on both sides. Shah Alam was religious mentor of Mahmood Begada. The mausoleum has very beautifully carved brass doors in white marble frame. The floor of the mausoleum is done with black and white marble tiles. Asaf Khan, brother of Empress Nur Jahan and father of Empress Mumtaj Mahal, had the dome of this mausoleum gilded and studded with jewels. The tomb of Sultan Mahmood Begada is also in Sarkhez. Inside the Mughal Fort is the famous shrine of Bhadra Kali. There are two mosques in Ahmedabad with shaking minarets. One of them is popularly known as Jhoolta Minar, meaning shaking minarets. These minarets are at front corners of Siddi Bashir Mosque. If one of them is shaken, the other shakes in sympathy. The exterior of the mosque and the minarets are profusely carved. The minarets have balconies jutting out at each floor level. Climbing in the spiral staircase inside the minarets is not allowed any more. There were such shaking minarets in Raj Bibi Mosque also. The British demolished on of them to investigate and could never put it back together. This mosque is opposite the railway station.
The Mughal Emperor Humayun conquered the city in 1535 but just nine months later Sultan Bahadur Shah retook it. Another famous foreigner to visit the city in 1555 was Udadbir, the Arabian historian. The landmark of Ahmedabad, Siddi Sayid Mosque, was constructed in 1572. It has very fine carvings and latticed windows sculpted from large single pieces of stone. The Abyssinian rulers of large territories in Gujarat and in southern India used the name of Siddi for their dynasty.
Conditions in the city were chaotic by the time of the last Sultan, Muzaffar III, and Mughal emperor Akbar conquered Gujarat in 1573 to extend the Mughal Empire up to the Arabian Sea. During the Mughal reign, Ahmedabad became one of the thriving centers of trade in Mughal Empire, especially in textiles, which were exported as far as Europe. In 1586 there was the historical meeting between Sant Dadu and Mughal Emperor Akbar, the same year he re-conquered the city from Sultan Muzaffar Shah. The first representative of the British East India Company arrived in 1610. Four years later in 1614, Sir Thomas Roe met the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and a letter was sent through him to British King James. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan built the Shahi Bag Palace that is now the Bungalow of the Commissioner and the Shahi Gardens. The Satyashiyo Dukal famine in 1630 devastated the city. Suba (Governor) Azamkhan built the Bhadra Palace in 1636. The Jain temple of Chintamani Parshvanath at Saraspur was destroyed by Islamic rioters in 1644, the year in which another European, Mendelslo visited the city. In this year Mughal Prince Aurangzeb became the Suba (provincial governor). The famous European traveler, Tavernier, visited the city in 1664 and in this year Emperor Aurangzeb granted Revenue concessions to Europeans in Gujarat. He also re-imposed the hated Jaziya Tax on the section of population that was non-Islamic in 1681. Two years later in 1683 Ahmedabad was flooded up to the Teen Darwaza. There are two very interesting Hindu temples in Ahmedabad, the Samet Shikhara Temple is in Mandvi Pol and Adishwar Temple is in Jhaveriwad.
In 1708 Balaji Vishwanath looted Ahmedabad and forced a truce at price of Rs. 120,000. The Maratha ruler, Bajirao Peshwa, took the city in 1731. One year later there was famine in Ahmedabad and thousands of inhabitants of Ahmedabad died in Plague. The Marathas looted the library of Rasulabad in 1733. In 1738 there was a peace treaty between Amin Khan, Suba of Ahmedabad and Damaji Gaekwad, who constructed the Gaekwad Haveli and ruled the city jointly. In 1753 Damaji Gaekwad and Raghunath Rao, the Maratha general, finally conquered the city ending the Mughal rule in Ahmedabad. In 1757 Gaekwad and Peshwa divided the city between them and one year later in 1758 the Marathas introduced their own currency in parts of Gujarat. General Godard conquered the city in 1780 and handed it over to Fatehsingh Gaekwad.
Mr. Dunlop, the collector of Kaira working for British East India Company took over the city in 1818 and put an end to the rule of Gaekwad with the hoisting of the British Union Jack on Bhadra Palace. In 1819 the city was shaken by an Earthquake. In 1820 the imported cloth was introduced in Ahmedabad. In 1821 there was another earthquake that lasted about 30 seconds. A military cantonment was established in 1824. The first English medium school of the city was established in 1846. The famous Hatheesingh Temple was constructed in 1848 by Raja Hatheesingh and was dedicated to the fifteenth Jain Tirthankar, Dharamnath. This temple is located just outside the Delhi Darwaza. The first Swami Narayan Temple was built in Dariyapur in 1850. The municipal government was established on January 19, 1857. Ranchhodlal Chhotalal, the pioneer of Textile Mill Industry, started the textile mill in Ahmedabad in 1861. The railway link between Ahmedabad and Bombay (now Mumbai) was established in 1864. Ahmedabad grew rapidly after that, becoming an important center of trade and textile manufacturing.
When Mahatma Gandhi returned from South Africa, he established his Sabarmati Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati River in 1915. The Salt Satyagraha, the salt non-violent protest march, was planned from here in 1930. This is an important site related with the independence struggle of India. There is a historic museum at the Ashram where personal belongings of Mahatma Gandhi are displayed. With the repairs of the city walls by the citizens of Ahmedabad, the first seeds of local self-government were sown. Mahatma Gandhi marched with thousands of his fellow freedom fighters from here to Dandi, to protest against the salt tax imposed by the British. He vowed not to return to the ashram until India was independent. The major earthquake on January 26, 2001 with epicenter near Bhuj caused extensive damage across western parts of Ahmedabad with 750 persons dead and over 4000 injured. In 2002 Ahmedabad witnessed the worst communal riots that left more than 400 dead.
Some of the most important educational institutions of India are located in Ahmedabad like the Indian Institute of Management, National Institute of Design, Space Applications Center of the Indian Space Research Organization, Mudra Institute of Communications, National Institute of Fashion Technology and the Center of Environmental Planning & Technology. Among the Museums one of the most important ones is Calico Museum of Textiles that has exhibits of antique and modern textiles of various kinds like the tapestries, wall hangings, brocade and embroidered textiles, typical Indian tenting materials, Saries for ladies and other historical costumes. The museum has a collection of old weaving machines and is housed in a former Haveli (Aristocratic Mansion) in the Shahi Bagh Gardens area of the city. This is a very a very fine textile museum but advance reservations are not possible, be prepared to stand in line on the pavement outside the museum. There are free guided tours available in the museum departing at 10.15 AM and 2.45 PM. This museum is closed on Wednesdays.
Le Corbusier designed 4 buildings in Ahmedabad, 3 of which can be seen with prior notification: The Mill Owner's Association Building, The Sanskar Kendra Paldi and Sarabhai House (entrance fee). The Sodhan Villa was also designed by Le Corbusier but it can only be seen from outside.
About 30 kilometers or 19 miles from Ahmedabad, in the village of Naroda is the Autoworld Vintage Car Museum of the industrialist, Mr. Pranlal Bhogilal with more than 105 fine and well maintained old cars dating from 1905 to 1964. This is one of the world's finest old car museums. Mr. Pranlal Bhogilal also has another old car museum in Mumbai.
Four Points by Sheraton Hotel - 104 rooms
Novotel Ahmedabad Hotel - 184 rooms
Courtyard by Marriott Hotel - 164 rooms
Hyatt Ahmedabad Hotel - 178 rooms
Gateway Ummed Hotel of Taj Group – 91 rooms
Le Meridien Hotel – 61 rooms
Fortune Landmark Hotel - 95 rooms
Hotel Krios - 24 rooms
Radisson Blu Hotel - 116 rooms
Park Plaza Hotel - 90 rooms
Fern An Ecotel Hotel - 87 rooms
House of MG (Mangaldas Girdhardas) – 12 rooms and suites
Country Inn & Suites - 68 rooms
Royal Orchid Hotel - 104 rooms
Lemon Tree Hotel - 99 rooms
Comfort Inn Sunset – 33 rooms
Cama Park Plaza – 46 rooms
Comfort Inn President Hotel – 53 rooms
Pride Hotel - 164 rooms
St. Laurns Towers - 63 rooms
West End Hotel - 38 rooms (fine budget hotel)
Distance from Ahmedabad in kilometers and miles:
Lothal: 85 kilometers or 53 miles
Vadodra (Baroda): 113 kilometers or 70 miles
Girnar: 330 kilometers or 205 miles
Palitana: 215 kilometers or 134 miles
Modhera: 102 kilometers or 64 miles
Bhuj: 396 kilometers or 246 miles
Udaipur: 252 kilometers or 157 miles
Jaisalmer: 595 kilometers or 370 miles
Mount Abu: 250 kilometers or 155 miles
Mumbai: 545 kilometers or 339 miles