Ahmedabad is now India's first UNESCO World Heritage City!

Congratulations! Ahmedabad becomes India's first UNESCO World Heritage City. It's an honour quite unlike any other, and this puts the old city of Ahmedabad in the league of other heritage cities like Paris, Cairo, and Edinburgh, and ahead of other Indian cities like Shahjehanabad in Old Delhi. This also makes Old Ahmedabad the third UNESCO World Heritage site in Gujarat, after Rani ni Vav and Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park.

"The walled city of Ahmadabad, founded by Sultan Ahmad Shah in the 15th century, on the eastern bank of the Sabarmati river, presents a rich architectural heritage from the sultanate period, notably the Bhadra citadel, the walls and gates of the Fort city and numerous mosques and tombs as well as important Hindu and Jain temples of later periods. The urban fabric is made up of densely-packed traditional houses (pols) in gated traditional streets (puras) with characteristic features such as bird feeders, public wells and religious institutions. The city continued to flourish as the capital of the State of Gujarat for six centuries, up to the present."

Source: UNESCO

old ahmedabad unesco world heritage city
Ahmedabad old city

old ahmedabad unesco world heritage city
The colors - Green!

old ahmedabad unesco world heritage city
Entrance to a home


So what exactly is Old Ahmedabad?

Well, it primarily comprises of the old and residential residential heart of the city - typically called 'Pol'. Each Pol is typically a gated society where people from one community would live. Back in the days, a Pol would be open through the day, and it's fortified gates would close at sunset, and guarded through the night. Now, many such Pol come together to make a 'Pur'. The city has several such 'Pur' neighbourhoods and each such unit is often self-sufficient.

The houses in these communities were typically built very close to each other, and in a distinct style as well. They often opened in to one another and people living in these communities would often live like a large extended family. Interestingly enough, these house, Pol and Pur exist even today, though there the way of living has certainly undergone a sea change now.

The beauty of a Pol lies in the houses which make them - often made with wood, with rich and intricate carvings not just on the front facade, but inside the houses as well.

For all of us who have loved exploring the varied facets of Ahmedabad old city, this is a matter of immense joy and one that I personally feel extremely proud of. From my time as a student first at Nirma, and later at NID, I have explored the lanes and by-lanes of the this part of the city numerous times, yet there is always something new to discover there. Even now when I visit Ahmedabad, it's a part of my routine to visit Old Ahmedabad, even if it's just for a dinner at Manek Chowk, or a photo-walk.

Why Ahmedabad?

The countries which supported Ahmedabad's nomination (a total of 20) cited a few reasons, which are often forgotten and in present times need to be remembered even more:

  1. Secular co-existence of Islamic, Hindu and Jain communities along with rich wooden architecture of havelis which dates back a few hundred years
  2. Ahmedabad was also the cradle for India's non-violent movement for independence led by Mahatma Gandhi


old ahmedabad unesco world heritage city
The colors - yellow!
old ahmedabad unesco world heritage city
A temple in old city

old ahmedabad unesco world heritage city
Manek chowk

old ahmedabad unesco world heritage city
Jain Temple

How to explore Old Ahmedabad?

Well, there are two ways to do to this - join a Heritage Walk which takes place every day and starts from the Swaminarayan Temple, and ends at Jami Masjid. I have done the walk thrice, and trust me it's absolutely worth it. There is much to see and explore, and the guides for the walk have answers to most questions.

Timing: 8am to 10.30am
Cost: Indians: Rs 50, Foreigners: Rs 100
To book: +91 9327021686 or +91 7925351019

Read more: Ahmedabad Heritage Walk

The other way is to explore the old city on your own. I have done this as well, but after participating in the organised walk. The walk can't possibly cover all parts of the old city, and it's truly worthwhile to do it on your own also, especially if you have time.

Pro tip: In case you want to explore how a traditional Pol house looks like, you can actually visit one such house which was restored a few years back to it's original glory. Even better, you can actually even stay there with the family. I interviewed them all for another project a while back, and I can absolutely vouch for them. Give Mr Jagdip my reference, and I am sure he will remember me :)

Contact name: Jagdip Mehta
Contact number: +91 9825310315
Address: Motosuthar Vado Pole, Khadia, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380001

old ahmedabad unesco world heritage city
Just another lane in the city

old ahmedabad unesco world heritage city
I love this facade!

old ahmedabad unesco world heritage city
Home to feed the birds :)

Where to stay in Ahmedabad?

Ahmedabad has numerous places to stay which can meet all budgets, but my favourite hotel there, by far, is House of MG. Located right opposite Sidi Sayyed Mosque, it's a heritage property and has two of city's best restaurants - Agashiye and Green House.

Book now:
House of MG
Hyatt Regency Ahmedabad
Novotel Ahmedabad
Courtyard Marriott

How to reach Ahmedabad?

Even though it's not the capital of Gujarat, all the infrastructure here would make you believe that it is. The city has an international airport which is connected to a few international destinations, and a domestic airport which is connected to all major Indian airports with numerous daily flights.

Similarly, the city is well connected with the rest of the country well through railways and busses as well.

A music video from old city!

Before I end, let me also share a music video I shot for a friend a few years back in the old city. The song is in Malayalam, but I love the way it showcases apnu Amdavad!



Comments

  1. Feeling proud that aapnu Amdavad is the first Indian city to become UNESCO World Heritage City! Reading your post brought back sweet memories of few years of my childhood spent in Amdavad. The video featuring you is awesome!

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  2. गजब, अहमदाबाद तो ऐतिहासिक है।

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  3. Great to know.
    Thanks a lot for your post . Awesome pics and loved the video.
    Greetings.

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  4. That is really awesome. I can see why! It is so old and historic. It needs to be protected

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  5. Great news for Ahmedabad that it has been recognised as such a cultural asset. I had not known about the pol and pur before, and I love your photos showing the exquisite facades of these houses, I think they are even more beautiful for being somewhat worn and faded in places rather than sparkling and shiny. I wonder if that will be retained?

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  6. This looks like the India of my dreams - beautiful buildings, winding streets and a rich cultural heritage. I am amazed it is Indian's first Unesco city in some ways though.

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  7. I had no idea there weren't any other UNESCO cities in India. Congratulations to Ahmedabad! I've only been to the domestic airport there, but when I'm in India next, I'd love to see the city for myself. Safe Travels.

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  8. Excellent advice on the city, I'm looking to travel long term in the next 3 months, Admedabad is going on the list!

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  9. Some great info/history! Never thought about going here but it may now be a destination to be considered. Great write up.

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  10. What an honour for Ahamedabad. The Lake District in the UK has just been named on the list, and it has been greeted with some indifference. It's great to see a country embrace the honour.

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  11. It looks like an amazing city. Full of history and hope. So good to see it's been listed as a Unesco site

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  12. A highly deserving recipient! Congrats to Ahmedabad!! I love that not only is this an important site for cultural heritage, but is a shining star in coexistance of diverse communities. Will make sure it's on our itinerary when I manage an India trip :)

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  13. Wow, how absolutely stunning. It's obvious that this city is worthy of such an honour. We haven't made it to India yet, but when we finally do this will definitely be another place to visit on our bucket list.

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  14. Great news for Ahmedabad. Your photographs and the the video portrays the city beautifully.

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  15. Congratulations to Ahmedabad! That is certainly a distinction that could boost the tourism and awareness. It certainly looks like a heritage city.

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  16. Great to know that Ahmedabad has made to UNESCO world heritage list. Pur and Por are something new to me and I am sure they might be equally beautiful and interesting too. The facade is really beautiful. You look great in the video.

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  17. India is an ancient country and should have more UNESCO sites. This post on the history is quite fascinating - love the architecture and the little communities.

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  18. This place looks so charming! I would love to visit somewhere like this. The colourful buildings and the intricate details of the facade are definitely stunning. :-)

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  19. The honor certainly looks well deserved! The beauty of Ahmedabad is really stunning. I'm sure the Heritage Walking Tour is a must-do to fully appreciate the incredible diversity and history of this city.

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  20. This sounds like a charming city to explore! I would love to see this old historic city on my own! Heritage Walk sounds like a fantastic idea!

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  21. I can understand why Ahmedabad has become India's first UNESCO World Heritage City. It is such a culturally rich and gorgeous looking city. The architecture is amazing and it would be so sad to see it lost.

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  22. The city looks very interesting and has such a rich history. I am happy that it is now UNESCO World Heritage listed.

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  23. Excellent news Sidd and this seems so well deserved from the images up top. Heady cities too on that list, all classics. India in general has such tremendous flavor. Unlike any other country I have visited in my life.

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  24. I am big fan of Unesco heritage sites and I would love to visit this one too.I have never been to India but I am looking forward to visiting. I would love to stay at the restored house you proposed. It must be an amazing experience.

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  25. This is very nice and charming city. It is very mind blowing news. Thanks for sharing this post.
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  27. I have never heard of this city, but it looks like a very beautiful place! I would love to visit it one day. No wonder UNESCO know acknowledged its beauty.

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  28. Do you think Ahmedabad is better than Laddakh? I am insterested in Laddakh so much. Which one do you think is better?

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  29. Hello,

    this is really interesting to know. I have been to Ahmedabad only for a one day but I have a really good memories. I'm thankful that UNESCO takes care of beautiful places, so we can protect it and our future generations can enjoy it as well :)
    Recently in my country (Poland) we got some new Unesco areas, so I hope it will attract even more tourist to Poland :)

    Best,
    Kasia

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  30. Post shows full of creativity, great content. About city, I personally want to explore.

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  31. No doubt Ahmed Abad is worlds best heritage Treasure of Times

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