Ahmedabad is the largest city in the state of Gujarat and the seventh-largest
urban agglomeration in India, with a population of 56 lakhs
(5.6 million). Located on the banks of the River Sabarmati,
the city is the administrative centre of Ahmedabad district,
and was the capital of Gujarat from 1960 to 1970; the capital
was shifted to Gandhinagar thereafter. The city is sometimes
called Karnavati, a name for an older town that existed
in the same location; in colloquial Gujarati, it is commonly
The city was founded in 1411 to serve as the capital of the Sultanate of Gujarat, by its namesake, Sultan Ahmed Shah. Under British rule, a military cantonment was established and the city infrastructure was modernised and expanded. Although incorporated into the Bombay Presidency during the British rule in India, Ahmedabad remained the most important city in the Gujarat region. The city established itself as the home of a booming textile industry, which earned it the nickname "the Manchester of the East." The city was at the forefront of the Indian independence movement in the first half of the 20th century. It was the epicentre of many campaigns of civil disobedience to promote workers' rights, civil rights and political independence.
With the creation of the state of Gujarat in 1960, Ahmedabad gained prominence as the political and commercial capital of the state. Once characterised by dusty roads and bungalows, the city is witnessing a major construction boom and population increase. A rising centre of education, information technology and scientific industries, Ahmedabad remains the cultural and commercial heart of Gujarat, and much of western India. Modern day Ahmedabad is the largest city of Gujarat and the sixth largest city of India. Since 2000, the city has been transformed through the construction of skyscrapers, shopping malls and multiplexes.However, this progress has been marred by natural calamities, political instability and outbreaks of communal violence.
Archaeological evidence suggests that the area around Ahmedabad has been inhabited since the 11th century, when it was known as Ashapalli or Ashaval. At that time, Karandev I, the Solanki ruler of Anhilwara (modern Patan), waged a successful war against the Bhil king of Ashaval. Soon after the victory, he established a city called Karnavati on the banks of the Sabarmati at the site of Maninagar area that is not part of the expanded modern Ahmedabad. Solanki rule lasted until the 13th century, when Gujarat came under the control of the Vaghela dynasty of Dholka and Ahmedabad was conquered by the Sultanate of Delhi.
In 1411, the rule of the Muzaffarid dynasty was established in Gujarat. According to tradition, Sultan Ahmed Shah, while camping on the banks of the River Sabarmati, saw a hare chasing a dog. Impressed by this act of bravery, the Sultan, who had been looking for a place to build his new capital, decided to locate the capital here and called it Ahmedabad.
In 1487, Mahmud Begada, the grandson of Ahmed Shah, fortified the city with an outer wall 10 km (6 miles) in circumference and consisting of twelve gates, 189 bastions and over 6,000 battlements. Ahmedabad was ruled by the Muzaffarid dynasty until 1573 when Muzaffar II was the Sultan of Ahmedabad. Gujarat was then conquered by the Mughal emperor Akbar in 1573. During the Mughal reign, Ahmedabad became one of the Empire's thriving centres of trade, mainly in textiles, which were exported to as far as Europe. The Mughal ruler Shahjahan spent the prime of his life in the city, sponsoring the construction of the Moti Shahi Mahal in Shahibaug. The armies of the Maratha generals Raghunath Rao and Damaji Gaekwad captured the city and ended Mughal rule in Ahmedabad. A famine in 1630 and the constant conflicts between the Peshwa and the Gaekwad armies virtually destroyed many parts of the city, causing its population to flee. The British East India Company took over the city in 1818 as a part of the conquest of India. A military cantonment was established in 1824 and a municipal government in 1858. In 1864, a railway link between Ahmedabad and Mumbai (then Bombay) was established by the Bombay, Baroda, and Central India Railway (BB&CI), making Ahmedabad an important junction in the traffic and trade between northern and southern India. Large numbers of people migrated from rural areas to work in textile mills, establishing a robust industry.
The Indian independence movement developed strong roots in the city when, in 1915, Mahatma Gandhi established two ashrams — the Kochrab Ashram near Paldi in 1915 and the Satyagraha Ashram (now Sabarmati Ashram) on the banks of the Sabarmati in 1917 — that would become centres of intense nationalist activities. During the mass protests against the Rowlatt Act in 1919, textile workers burned down 51 government buildings across the city in protest at a British attempt to extend wartime regulations after the First World War. In the 1920s, textile workers and teachers went on strike, demanding civil rights and better pay and working conditions. In 1930, Gandhi initiated the Salt Satyagraha from Ahmedabad by embarking from his ashram on the famous Dandi Salt March. The city administration and economic institutions were rendered functionless by the large masses of people who took to the streets in peaceful protests in the early 1930s, and again in 1942 during the Quit India movement. Following independence and the partition of India in 1947, the city was scarred by intense communal violence that broke out between Hindus and Muslims.
Ahmedabad became the capital of the new state of Gujarat after the bifurcation of the State of Bombay on 1 May 1960. During that period, a large number of educational and research institutions were founded in the city, making it a major centre of higher education, science and technology. Ahmedabad's economic base was diversified with the establishment of heavy and chemical industries in its vicinity around the same period. But the growth in the next two decades was punctuated by political events in and around the city. In February 1974, Ahmedabad occupied the centre stage in national politics with the launch of the Nav Nirman agitation — a protest against a 20% hike in the hostel food fees at the L.D. College of Engineering that snowballed into a mass agitation to remove Chimanbhai Patel, then-chief minister of Gujarat, on charges of corruption. In the 1980s, a reservation policy was introduced in the country, which led to anti-reservation protests in 1981 and 1985. The protests witnessed violent clashes between people belonging to various castes.
On 26 January 2001 a devastating earthquake struck the city, centred near Bhuj, measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale. As many as 50 multistory buildings collapsed, killing 752 people and devastating the city's infrastructure. The following year, communal riots between Hindus and Muslims spread to Ahmedabad, paralysing the city for more than a month. The crisis resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,044 people across the state. The displacement of thousands of Muslims led to the erection of refugee camps around the city.
In recent years, the effects of globalisation and the liberalisation of the Indian economy has energised the city's economy. The city has witnessed the establishment of scientific and service industries, the expansion of the information technology sector, and significant improvements in transportation and communications. Ahmedabad's population is growing, which has resulted in a construction and housing boom. However, this has challenged the city's infrastructure and power supply
Ahmedabad is the largest inland industrial centre in western India, and has historically enjoyed a reputation as an important base of commerce, trade and industry. Under Muzaffarid rule, the city was a major trade destination for western India, because of its proximity to the port at Surat and for its access to the hinterland of Gujarat. In the 19th century, the textile and garments industry developed and thrived in the city — on 30 May 1861 Ranchhodlal Chhotalal founded the first Indian textile mill, the Ahmedabad Spinning and Weaving Company Limited. This was followed by the establishment of a series of textile mills such as the Calico Mills in 1880 by Maganbhai, and mills founded by industrialists such as Ambalal Sarabhai and Kasturbhai Lalbhai.Arvind Mills, located in Ahmedabad, is one of the largest textile mills in the country.
Ahmedabad has a thriving chemicals and pharmaceuticals industry. Two of the biggest pharmaceutical companies of India — Zydus Cadila and Torrent Pharmaceuticals — are based in the city. The city serves as the corporate headquarters of the Adani Group, which is a leading multinational trading and infrastructure development company. The Nirma group of industries, which runs a large number of detergent and chemical industrial units, has its corporate headquarters in the city. In recent year many foreign companies have set up their sales offices and production facilities in Ahmedabad. Amongst them are Bosch Rexroth, Germany (hydraulic components); Stork, Netherlands (textile machinery; joint venture with ATE, India's leading textile equipment trading house); Rollepaal, Netherlands (pipe extrusion equipment); and Johnson Pumps, Sweden.
The completion and operation of the Sardar Sarovar Project
of dams and canals has improved the supply of potable water
and electricity for the city. In recent years, the Gujarat
government has increased investment in the modernisation
of the city's infrastructure, providing for the construction
of larger roads and improvements to water supply, electricity
and communications. The information technology industry
has developed significantly in Ahmedabad. A NASSCOM survey
in 2002 on the "Super Nine Indian Destinations" for IT-enabled
services ranked Ahmedabad fifth among the top nine most
competitive cities in the country.
A diverse labour force of migrant workers from different parts of Gujarat and neighbouring states is integral to the economy of the city. These workers provide vital household labour and services for the city's large middle class. Ahmedabad plays a strong and significant role in providing commercial resources and market access for the economies of neighbouring cities. A majority of the working-age citizens of Ahmedabad are traders and business people. This has led to the creation of major mercantile corporations and artisan guilds that are a key influence on the economic life of Gujarat. The city's educational and industrial institutions have attracted students and young skilled workers from the rest of India