FORTS OF INDIA(Ahmedabad)
'A NOBLE city in a high state of prosperity which for the pleasantries of its climate and the display of the choice of production of the whole globe is almost unrivalled.'*—Abul Fazel.
In the year 1411 Ahmad Shah succeeded his grandfather Muzaffar Shah as the Sultan of Gujarat. The same year he selected a site in Asaval on Sabar- mati for his capital. He founded there a new city which in honour of four Ahmads himself, his teacher Shaikh Ahmad Khathu and two others, viz. Kazi Ahmad and Malik Ahmad he named Ahmedabad and to it he transferred his capital. Ahmedabad grew into a large city and was well protected with its thick and high walls, many gates, broad avenues, well paved streets and abundant vegetation.
To clear his capital of robbers and highwaymen who had made the people's life miserable, Ahmad Shah built a strong fort known as Bhadra. The fort was square in form and enclosed an area of about 43 acres and contained 162 houses. It had eight gates. Of the gates two were in the east and one was in the south-west corner. A gateway near the Kali Mata temple forms the entrance to the citadel. It was through this that Mahmud Begarha, a 15-year old king with quiver on the back and bow in hand, marched with only 300 horsemen to dispose of his rebel nobles and their 30,000 followers. The young king ordered that elephants lead and royal music play as he marched slowly on the main street. The effect was terrific. Some of his nobles joined him and others fled. He destroyed their leader. He repaired the walls and planted trees beside roads. But Portuguese competition for trade affected the prosperity of the capital.
In the words of Ogilby (1680) Bhadra was the strongest Mughul fortress in India. It was also one of the most magnificent forts.
There is an unbelievable story about the construction of the wall. Manek Burj was named after the Hindu monk who had to be conciliated before the walls were built. Every day bricks were laid and every night these were found in pieces. Then the Sultan asked Manek to give proof of his power. He got the magician into a small jar and kept him there till he promised to let the building rise in peace.
In 1572 Akbar, called by a party of Gujarati nobles marched to Surat. He entered Ahmedabad on 18 November 1573 without any opposition and captured it. After his departure insurrection broke out in his newly conquered province. He hurriedly made it to Ahmedabad, traversed 600 miles in eleven days and vanquished the insurgents in a battle near Ahmedabad on 2 September 1573. Gujarat became a province of his empire. It turned out to be a profitable source of income. It gave him free access to the sea but he did not envisage its advantage nor did he build any sea power. At the close of the 16th century, the city was large, well formed and remarkably healthy.
In early 17th century the Dutch and English came to Ahmedabad. In 1619 the English built factories at Ahmedabad. But when Emperor Jahangir visited Ahmedabad, he found nothing worth admiring in the city. He was disgusted and called it Gardabad, 'dirty city'. Later when he heard that plague had broken out, he called it Bimaristan (sick town), hell city, etc. During her nine months stay there Nurjahan governed the city.
Shahjahan built a palace in Bhadra. When Prince Murad received news of his father Shahjahan's death he crowned himself at Ahmedabad on 5 September 1657.
From 1640 to 1670 the fortune of Ahmedabad was at its best. On the death of Aurangazeb in 1707 Marathas sent an expedition under Balaji. From 1738 to 1753 the city was under the direct rule of Momin Khan and the Gaikwar's agent Rangoji.
In 1780 a British force under General Goddard, in alliance with Fateh Singh Gaikwar against the Pune government, advanced to Ahmedabad. Seeing no sign of surrender General Goddard opened a battery and made a breach in the city wall. As two days passed in waiting for an offer of surrender, the English rushed up to the breach. The struggle was fierce, the garrison yielded only after 3000 of their number and 106 of the assailants lay dead. There was no plundering nor excess. A detachment of British troops was left to garrison the citadel. The city was handed over to Fateh Singh. It remained with the Marathas till 1817 when after the overthrow of the Peshwa it reverted to the British government.
One of the chief remains in the fort is Sultan Ahmad's mosque built in 1414. Its outer wall, bare of ornaments, carries on it a design reminder of the first attempts of Hindus at building in Muslim style.Ganj Shahid, the martyr's mound, is the tomb of warriors who perished in Sultan's early battles.
The Jami Masjid—its construction began in A.D. 1411—has 260 pillars. Manek BurJ (or the ruby bastion) is built round the foundation stone of the city. The tower used to contain a large 77 feet round-roofed well known as Manek Kuwa or ruby well. By the change in the course of the river the wel Iwent dry and was filled up in 1866.