Here’s some of what the Lonely Planet – India chapter Gujarat has to say about Ahmedabad:
“Ahmedabad is Gujarat’s major city and a startling metropolis with a long history, many remarkable buildings, a fascinating maze of an old quarter, excellent museums, fine restaurants and fabulous night markets.
Yet the old-world charm is all but swamped by 21st-century traffic, crowding, pollution and the usual extremes of wealth and poverty. Many travellers stop off briefly en route to Rajasthan or Mumbai, sneaking in a visit to Sabarmati Ashram (Gandhi’s former headquarters).
The old city lies on the east side of the Sabarmati River and used to be surrounded by a 10km-long wall, of which little now remains except fifteen formidable gates standing as forlorn islands amid swirling, cacophonous traffic. The new city on the west side of the river, nearly all built in the last 50 years, has wider streets, several major universities, and many middle-class neighbourhoods.
Ahmedabad was founded in 1411 by Gujarati sultan Ahmed Shah at the spot where, legend tells, he saw a hare chasing a dog (he was impressed by its bravery). The city spread quickly beyond his citadel on the east bank of the Sabarmati, and by the 17th century it was considered one of the finest cities in India, a prospering trade nexus adorned with an array of fine Islamic architecture. Its influence waned, but from the second half of the 19th century Ahmedabad rose again as a huge textile centre (the ‘Manchester of the East).
By the late 20th century many of the mills had closed and the subsequent economic hardship may have been a contributing factor in the communal violence that split the city in 2002, when up to 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed.
Today Ahmedabad is booming again as a centre for IT, education and chemicals production on top of its traditional textiles and commerce, and has been officially dubbed a ‘megacity’.”
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