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  • Writer's pictureRishika Srivastava

Ahmedabad Walled City- First Indian City to be Declared as a World Heritage City

Updated: Mar 3, 2022


Ahmedabad Walled City was inscribed as first World Heritage city in India by UNESCO in July 2017. This has been possible due the collective efforts of the Ministry of Culture, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), technical organizations supporting the AMC, knowledge partners and the community for over 20 years.

The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation took a landmark step in 1996 by establishing the country’s first dedicated “Heritage Cell” within the local government. By forming this nodal institution, AMC was able to implement many landmark reforms for heritage conservation, such as listing and grading of buildings, TDR mechanism for conservation financing,

In 2016, AMC prepared and submitted a dossier for the walled city of Ahmedabad highlighting the co-existence of Islamic, Hindu and Jain communities in the city since its inception in the 15th century. In addition, AMC presented the exemplary architectural design seen in the intricately carved wooden havelis as a part of the outstanding universal value (OUV) for the walled city.

The efforts still continue as the Ahmedabad World Heritage City Trust – a trust established by the Heritage Department in AMC is preparing Heritage Zonal Plans and Urban Design Guidelines for the World Heritage City of Ahmedabad with support from the Urban Management Centre. The efforts for heritage conservation and management in Ahmedabad were started in 1996 and since, the AMC has consistently worked towards revitalizing its walled city.

Over the last two and a half decades, the AMC has adopted a multi-pronged approach including

  • Formulating policies promote conservation

  • Introducing statutory regulations to mandate preservation

  • Constituting administrative structures for managing the heritage

  • Incentivizing heritage asset (built and cultural) owners

  • Sensitizing the citizens and promoting tourism for visitors


Some of the initiatives implemented by AMC include:

  • Establishment of a heritage cell in 1996 (later constituted as the Heritage Department) to focus on restoring the heritage structures within the walled city. AMC with bilateral support with French agencies surveyed 11,000+, listed and graded heritage buildings within the walled city. This helped in creation of a comprehensive database laying further ground for conservation and restoration efforts in the future. This Indo-French association focused on relooking at the heritage conservation plan for Ahmedabad and provide actions for strengthening the same through the ‘Recommendations Report for Conservation and Revitalisation of the Walled City of Ahmedabad’.

  • Initiation of a Heritage Walk in the walled city of Ahmedabad in 1997 to sensitize the citizens about the importance of heritage conservation. Over the years, has become one of the major attractions of the city.

  • Introduction of special development regulation and guidelines for the conservation of historic areas, walled city and gamtals (urban villages) and its further strengthening by its inclusion in the city’s statutory development plan.

  • Promotion of heritage-linked businesses/ enterprises and supporting livelihoods including local handicrafts, traditional cuisines, souvenirs, local art forms and performing groups among others through Indo-European Union city-to-city partnership between Ahmedabad and Valladolid, Spain.

  • Incentivization for heritage property owners by introduction of homestay policy to promote adaptive reuse of heritage properties in Ahmedabad as homestays.

  • Incentivization of heritage property conservation through formulation and roll-out of a heritage tradable development rights (TDR). This policy allows heritage property owners to receive TDR certificates every 20 years, which can be monetized as additional floor space index (FSI) for construction in other parts of the city. Many property owners have availed the TDR and used the proceedings for conservation of their heritage properties.



 

References:

1. ahduni.edu.in. (n.d.). visited on 30.11.2021, Corporation, A. M. (2016). Nomination Dossier for Inscription on the World Heritage List

2. The Submission of State of Conservation Reports by the State Parties - Historic City of Ahmedabad. www.gujarattourism.com. (n.d.). visited on 30.11.2021




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