More than 600 year old Walled City of Ahmedabad founded by Ahmed Shah has been declared India’s first World Heritage City, recognising heritage value of the walled city’s unique heritage.
The World Heritage Committee (WHC) of UNESCO announced on Saturday late night following a meeting in Poland’s Krakwo. Subsequently, India’s permanent representative to UNESCO Ruchira Kamboj also tweeted. . “Thrilled to announce! Ahmedabad has just been declared India’s first #WorldHeritage city by @UNESCO,”
The 5.5 km walled city area with approximate population of four lakh living in century old wooden residences in around 600 pols or neighbourhoods is regarded as living heritage and the UNESCO had preferred Ahmedabad’c entry over Delhi and Mumbai, country’s two main metro cities.
Ahmedabad’s nomination received huge support from around 20 countries, who lauded the peaceful co-existence of dominant Hindu, Islamic and Jain communities in the Walled City area. Besides it architectural marvels of wooden havelis, the world community also stressed on the fact that the city was the epicentre of non violent freedom struggle that led to country’s independence from colonial rulers in 1947.
According to Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner Mukesh Kumar, there are 2600 heritage sites and over two dozen ASI protected monuments and sites in the walled city which has been declared as the first World Heritage City of the country. In 2011, the city had figured in UNESCO’s tentative list.
The civic body and the state authorities expect a huge boost to tourism in the city after the UNESCO’s declaration. The city has now joined the privileged club of heritage cities like Paris, Cairo, Edinburg and two cities in subcontinent Bhaktpur in Nepal and Galle in Sri Lanka.
“For over 600 years, Ahmedabad has stood for peace, as a landmark city where Mahatma Gandhi began India’s freedom struggle. It has stood for unity with its elegant carvings in its Hindu and Jain temples as well as standing as one of the finest examples of Indo-Islamic architecture and Hindu Muslim art. And beyond this, it epitomizes the United Nation’s objective of sustainable development as it accelerates in its development,” Ms. Kamboj said during Ahmedabad’s inscription.
It took efforts of two decades to achieve the new status as Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) had set up Heritage Cell in 1996 to preserve heritage sites and restore those which were damaged. Prior to that in 1984, Ford Foundation had instituted a project to conserve city’s heritage structures in the Walled City.