A TRIBUTE TO MY CITY
On 26th February 2013, the city of Ahmedabad celebrated its 602nd birthday. Sultan Zafar Shah's son Ahmed Shah founded this city on 26th February 1411. The city of Ahmedabad has lots of historical as well as interesting facts which I would like to share with my readers as a tribute to my beloved city on its 602nd birthday.
How City Got Its Name?
Many believe that Ahmedabad was named after its founder Sultan Ahmed Shah, but this was not the only reason for naming the city. The actual reason was something different and very interesting too.
After Sultan Ahmed Shah ascended the throne, he went upto Bharuch in south Gujarat to curb the rebels. He camped at Ashaval while returning to Patan from South Gujarat. One day, on a hunting expedition along with his companions he reached the farthest corner of the forest. Suddenly, a rabbit ambushed and frightened away the hound of Sultan. The Sultan was impressed by this act of bravery. He tried to link this incident with the potential and mystery of river Sabarmati. So he decided to make it as his capital. Before finalizing it, he sought permission of Prophet AL-Khijar through his preceptor Saint-Shaikh Ahmed Khattu Ganjbaksh of Sarkhej.
According to his advice, the place was very mysterious and it could not be successfully established. So far no ruler succeeded in doing so. The place couldn't flourish unless certain conditions were fulfilled and if those conditions were met the city would not only flourish and grow but it would exist till the Judgement Day. Those conditions were: (1) Four persons named 'Ahmed' must lay the foundation of the city. (2) Those four person must be so punctual in offering Namaaz/Salaat (prayers) that since their adulthood they must have never missed even one evening Namaaz. (3) The city must be named 'Ahmedabad'. For this purpose, four persons, Sultan Ahmed Shah himself, Shaikh Ahmed Khattu Ganjbaksh, Kazi Ahmed and Malik Ahmed held the ends of the string from four directions. Thus, the construction of the Royal Palace started and the foundation of Ahmedabad was laid on 26th February 1411 A.D. Ahmedabad remained capital of Gujarat for around 162 years till the Gujarat Sultanate stopped being an independent sultanate. In 1572, Mughal emperor Akbar captured the city and ended the rule of the Sultanate.
Sultan Ahmed Shah was one of the best rulers. During his reign the crime rate in the city was at its nadir. During his time only one murder case took place that too was committed by his son-in-law who murdered somebody in the fit of arrogance when he was young. The Sultan got him arrested and sent to Kazi for his trial. In order to avoid Sultan's displeasure, the Kazi ordered that the accused should give 22 gold coins to the successors of the dead as a punishment. When the Sultan learnt about it, he felt that any wealthy person could take the undue benefit of such judgement. He considered the judgement as unjust. Therefore, he reviewed the case of his son-in-law and sentenced him to death by hanging and asked the hangmen to keep the dead body hanging for twenty four hours, so that people could see the consequence of killing someone and also know the impartiality of the Sultan. Such was the Sultan's love for justice.
The Most Popular Legend
During the rule of Sultan Ahmed Shah when the construction of Bhadra fort was going on, a Sadhu named Baba Maneknath (who belonged to Aghori sect) who lived in a hut on the bank of the river Sabarmati used to create hurdles in the construction with his miracle. He stitched a mattress during day time in parallel to the construction of the fort wall. When he removed the stitches in the night, the wall so far constructed fell down. Thus, the construction of the fort never got completed.
When the Sultan learned about Baba Maneknath, he requested him to show other miracles. Maneknath told him that he was able to enter into a kettle like container and come out from the narrow pipe. When Maneknath entered into the container, the Sultan closed it from both the sides. Thus Maneknath was captivated by the Sultan tactfully. Maneknath was made to realize his mistake. He then promised to the Sultan that he will not interfere with any construction work. The Sultan even named the first dome of Bhadra Fort as 'Manek Burj' after Baba Maneknath.
Thus Bhadra fort was built and the Ahmedabad city, Gujarat's commercial and financial centre, was encompassed within a fort. Bhadra Fort once believed to have 12 darwajas (gates) actually has 21 darwajas. Each of the darwaja has beautiful carvings, calligraphy and some of them even balconies.
Historical Symbols (Landmarks) of Ahmedabad
Sidi Saiyyed Mosque
This is the unofficial symbol of Ahmedabad and the inspiration for the design of the logo of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad. This elegant mosque was built by Sidi Saiyed in 1573. The Jalis (window) are in rear wall of the mosque. The Jalis have fine carving design in geometrical and interwined tree and foliage and a palm motif. Such intricately carved stone Jalis are not found anywhere in the entire world.
Kankaria Lake is one of the biggest man-made lakes in Ahmedabad. It was built by Sultan Kutubuddin in 15th century. The work was completed in 1451 A.D and was known as "Qutub Hojj" or "Hauj-e-Kutub". It was used for bathing by the kings and used to be opened to public for Wudu (ablution) for performing Salaat/ Namaaz on Eid. There is a big mosque (Eidgah) for performing special Eid Namaaz near Kankaria Lake. It had a water purification system but it has been lost with the time. At one point of the circular lake, there opens a walkway which later merges into a garden called 'Nagina Wadi' that is located in the centre of the lake. With an approximate circumference of 1.4 miles (2.3km), it represents the regale history of Ahmedabad. It is a 34-sided polygon having steps which leading down to water level.
Saint Shaikh Ahmed Khattu Ganjbaksh, the preceptor of Sultan Ahmed Shah belonged to Sarkhej. When he passed away, Sultan Muhammad Shah started building his Roja in 1446 and Sultan Qutbuddin completed it in 1451. The mosque was also built during that time. Sultan Muhammad Begda liked this place very much. He made his Shrine just opposite to Ahmed Khattu's Roja and had constructed a lake beside it. He built palaces for self and his family on the south east of the lake. The pillars of those palaces still exist. Saint Ahmed Khattu's Roja is considered as the biggest Roja in Gujarat. The brass engraving of the Roja is worth seeing. There is an open pavilion with 16 pillars in Hindu style just opposite to the Roja. There is an inscription on the main Roja which states : "The whole world respects this saint". The world famous architect Le Corbusier compared Sarkhej Roja complex to the Acropolis.
Teen Darwaja (The Three Gates)
The Three Gates is a royal entrance to the city, popularly known as Teen Darwaja. The middle arch is 17.5 feet wide that even the municipal bus can easily pass through it. Arches on both the sides are 13 feet wide. Its height is 25 feet. There are small arches through which one can go from one gate to the other. On the east and west of the middle gate there are small recesses with carvings and also small towers with carvings as we find them in the mosque. There is a terrace over it. On both the sides, there are three balconies. There was a roof over the gates, which was then taken out in 1877. At present, the terrace is open.