Our city of Ahmedabad is both ancient and modern. It lives in the past as much as it dreams of a bright future. The history of the city is not stagnant. Its architecture inspired Mughal Emporer Shah Jahan to build the Taj Mahal. In the late 19th century, Russia’s Czar Nicholas II was fascinated by the Sidi Syed mosque. He even wrote a poem praising its intricate design. And a 15th-century poet, Ulvi Shiraz, described it as a pretty mole on earth’s face.
In the 17th century, when European traveler Gemelli Careri came to the city, he compared it to Venice. In the 19th century, travelers Edwin Arnold and Henry George Briggs felt that the city was like a muse for poets and painters. Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore wrote a ghost story when he was staying at Shah Jahan’s palace. The ancient buildings in the walled city are architectural marvels. They also symbolize the fact that the city is home to many religions. The message of the Hindu festival of Holi is etched on the walls of the Abdul Samad Rehmatullah mosque at Bhadra. That shows Sufis’ efforts to build a peaceful society for all faiths. The 600-year-old Ahmedabad has stories of sultans, Sidi Badshahs of African descent, Mughal emperors and Mahatma Gandhi.
Searching for the city’s soul
Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Harappa were great river civilizations, cradled on the banks of great rivers like the Tigris, Euphrates, Nile, and Indus. So, the Sabarmati can be described as Ahmedabad’s mother. The Padma Purana, one of the basic Hindu texts, deals with Sabarmati Mahatmya in six chapters. These chapters describe Khadagareshvara, Dugdheshvara, Kandereshvara, Pippalada, PincuMardana and Kotaraksi tirths. These were ghats along the river and one of the ghats is still known as Dudheshwar. The Purana also talks about the importance of the river. It describes the pilgrim centers on the banks of river Sabarmati much before Ahmed Shah arrived on the scene in 1411.
KHADAGADHESHVARA MAHADEV TEMPLE
Khadag means boulder and legend have it that Lord Shiva killed a demon here. This 17th-century temple with seven Shivalayas is believed to be built during the Maratha rule and received its name from the boulders it stands upon.
BHEEMNATH NO AARO
Since medieval time, this had been an important place for Hindus to perform last rites and other rituals
THE MOTI SHAHI MAHAL
The famine of 1630 led Emporer Shah Jahan, the then governor of Gujarat, to build a palace along the river. He also gave jobs to people. The Shahi Mahal had 11 wells and a jetty for large-sized boats.
DUDESHWAR NO AARO
Since times immemorial, this place has been used for cremation. Mythology has it that sage Dadhichi, who built an ashram here and sat in penance, would offer only milk to the Shivling.
Each gate in the fort surrounding Ahmedabad had a dedicated use. The Khanpur Darwaza near Bhadra Fort was the gateway to the river banks for entertainment shows and festivities.
MANKESHWAR MAHADEV TEMPLE
The place around this temple used to be a cremation ground for Madalpur village. The Pandavas, it is said, during their exile had lived here to avoid recognition.
GAEKWAD NI HAVELI
The Peshwas and Gaekwads, who ruled the city from 1753, decided to set up their headquarters here. This is known as Gaekwad ni Haveli. Nothing of the haveli remains except a fortress-like outer wall.
This is one of the gates in Ahmedabad fort. During the Maratha rule, this was one of the gates used to ward off attacks by the British.
BABA LULUHI (LUBLUBI) KI MASJID
In 1411, Ahmed Shah was told that to ensure peace, harmony and wealth in the city, he should invite 12 saints who pray for the city and also help in laying the city’s foundation. Baba Lublubi, a Sufi saint, was one of them.
SAPTARISHI NO AARO
Mythology has it that sage Rishi lived here and built an ashram. Several small templates dot this place; one of them, the Saptabaneshwar temple, has a Panchmukhi Shivling.
This Tirth exists on the banks of Sabarmati in the Shahibaug area and to the east of the garden, which was developed by Emporer Shah Jahan.
Dugdeshvara exists in Vadaj village, near Gandhi Ashram.
KANDERESHVARA & PIPPALADA
It is noted in the Puranas that these two tirths were non existent by the time they were written.
This tirth existed in Raikhad area.
This turth is near Saptarishi area in Jamalpur.