Ashawali Brocade, woven in silk and hailing from the heart of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, carries with it a name that echoes through the corridors of time, tracing its origins back thousands of years. The very essence of its name, Ashawali, finds its roots in the history of a bygone era, under the reign of King Ashapalli. According to historical documents, Karna (r. c. 1064–1092 CE), a monarch from the Chaulukya (Solanki) dynasty in Gujarat, is lauded for his triumph over a Bhil chief from Ashapalli. This victory marked the establishment of Karnavati city, further enriching the cultural tapestry of the region

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Traditionally, the sari was meticulously woven on a 105 cm wide pit loom, initially in narrow strips worn as patkas in royal courts, turbans, within the canopies of majestic pavilions, or as exquisite attachments to garments. Diverse communities in Gujarat draped these saris, adorning them with intricately designed pallus and borders, creating a splendid spectacle with their odhanis.

The skilled weavers also wove Pichhwais in brocade, depicting figures and an array of objects for the household temples dedicated to the worshipers of Shri Nathji. A captivating collection of these art pieces is on display at the renowned Calico Museum of Textiles in Ahmedabad.

In the era of the Mughals, royalties graced themselves with kinkhab sashes adorning their waists. Brocades became a symbol of opulence, not only for their personal wardrobes but also for bestowing upon courtiers during grand ceremonies, thus laying the foundational threads of the rich tradition of brocades. Beyond the realm of patkas, these intricate brocades found expression in canopies, floor spreads, hangings, yardages, saddlecloths, bags, and even fans. The yardages, in particular, served as the canvas for stitching garments, with kinkhab being a distinguished brocade style. In this unique technique, the motif is intricately woven with gold or silver zari (extra weft), creating a subtle luster on the silk fabric surface while allowing the silk base to delicately peek through. Kinkhab was especially favored for developing the blouse piece, typically 22 – 27 inches wide.

The allure of Ashavali brocades transcends into various product categories, catering to the diverse tastes of consumers from different communities. For instance, the Bharward communities in Kutch and Surendranagar elegantly adorned themselves with brocaded pallus and borders, while the Rabari community in Surendranagar ingeniously attached these pallus to their odhanis. Today, the artistic evolution continues as weavers skillfully craft silk Ashavali sarees, presenting a delightful spectrum of designs and colors. Discerning buyers also show admiration for complementary products like dupattas and wall hangings, contributing to the timeless legacy of this exquisite craft.


Brocades are a class of richly decorative shuttle woven fabrics, often made in coloured silks and with or without gold and silver threads. Typically woven on a draw loom, they are produced with a supplementary weft technique that gives the appearance that the weave was actually embroidered on. In the Indian tradition, as exemplified by the luxury weaves from Banaras (or Varanasi) in the north, kanchipuram in south and other examples from Gujarat and the Deccan, gold or gilt-silver, or base metal plated with silver and drawn out into unimaginably fine strands were used to stupendous effect.

In the rich tapestry of Gujarat’s history, the artistry of silk weaving has been a beacon that has shone across the world since ancient times. According to Ali Muhammad Khan, the author of Mirat-e-Ahmadi, the skilled artisans of Gujarat, over time, mastered the craft of weaving silk. Their creations, such as Kinkhwab (brocade) and Makhmal (muslin), surpassed others in terms of quality, boasting vibrant colors and exquisite forms, thanks to the favorable climate. The fame of Gujarat silk spread far and wide, with Ahmedabad’s name echoing in distant lands like Iran, Turan, Egypt, and Syria.

The craftsmanship in Ahmedabad was so exceptional that even places merely four miles away couldn’t match its prowess in weaving, coloring, artwork, washing, calendaring, and more. Mirat-e-Ahmadi recounts the manufacturing of opulent velvet pavilions and canopies in the Royal workshops at Ahmedabad, each worth lakhs of rupees. These masterpieces were sent to the emperor’s court for grand occasions, adorning the palace grounds with magnificence.

The Ain-i-Akbari also recognizes Ahmedabad as a renowned center for brocade, velvets, and silk. The coveted Ashavali brocades, colloquially known as kincobs, emerged from the skilled hands of artisans in Ashabelo Tekro, a small village. These brocades found favor among royalty for their exquisite craftsmanship.

The sheen of silk remains undiminished, preserving its natural luster. The eco-friendly components used for dyeing pose no harm to the dyer’s skin or the wearer’s. As a natural fiber, silk deeply absorbs the dye, enhancing its color fastness—a testament to the enduring allure of this ancient art form.

Myths & Legends:

It is believed that kinkhwab of Gujarat does not lose a little colour or shine even if kept for ages, because it was washed in the water of Lake Kankariya.



The correct way to trace the history of any product is through the material, and archaeologists have found traces of silk at the Indus Valley site. It was preserved inside a coiled wire ornament made of native copper or a copper-alloy, recovered from debris on the floor of a structure dating to the late 2450 cal BC.

The term “Brocade” finds its roots in the Italian word “broccato,” translating to “embossed cloth.” While brocades are believed to have originated in China around 260 BCE, there are notable references to a fabric resembling brocade in Indian history. In old written documents, The Rig Veda, dating back to ancient times, mentions Hiranya, denoting “clothes made in gold.” Greek historian Megasthenes recounts instances of people wearing garments made of gold adorned with floral designs. Additionally, Buddhist records highlight Kaśika vastra, the cloth produced in Kashi (ancient Varanasi), crafted from gold and silk, worn by the ruling class and nobility.

The Gujarat region also had many suits during that time, and the region was always a prominent center of silk weaving. One of the three unique silk weavings comes from Gujarat—Patola, Mashru, and Ashavali brocade. Surat, Patan, and Ahmedabad are the three main cities in terms of the production and trade of silk textiles. The city, in present times named Ahmedabad, has undergone many changes in its nomenclature. In ancient times, it was named Ashaval or Ashapalli in the 8th century after the name of King Asha Bhil, followed by Karnavati after the ruler Solanki Karnadev-I in the 11th century (AD 1074), and finally, Ahmedabad in AD 1411 under the reign of King Ahmed Shah.

Ashavali Brocade, named after the city of Ahmedabad, once known as Ashaval, has been a symbol of brocade and silk weaving, also known as the Amdavadi or Amdavadi zari sari. The weavers of this textile were patronized by the Mughals, local royalty, and the rich mercantile class in Gujarat, which, according to some theories, is where brocade weaving originated in India and was made by Khatris and Patels.

Historical documents suggest that when Mohammad Gazni attacked Somnath, many people migrated to different parts of the country. One group also migrated to the south Indian city, and they were masters in silk weaving. Even after thousands of years, they are still called Saurastraian weavers, locally known as “pattanukar,” meaning fine silk weavers. It is believed that Banaras emerged as the new brocade weaving center after a great fire in 1300 CE caused many weavers to migrate from the city. The migrated weavers settled in Agra, Ajmer, Delhi & Varanasi and started weaving at these places. Thus, the brocade weaving extended to other places in India.

Ashavali Brocades from the 11th to 17th Century faced a dearth of literature and evidence about their origin in Ashaval. During this period, there were 500-600 looms in Ahmedabad, employing a number of master weavers. Shahpur, one of the suburbs of Ahmedabad, was the main center for weaving in the city. The weavers of Ashavali brocades wove for the religious sect of Pushti Marg, a Vaishnav tradition followed by many prominent and affluent families of the merchant community. They wove Pichhwais in brocade, comprising figures as well as a range of objects for the household temples of the worshipers of Shri Nathji. Collections of these pieces can be seen at the Calico Museum of Textile, Ahmedabad, as well as the Baroda Museum and in various temples, serving as household shrines. In the comparative study of graphic aspects of textiles in Indian Gurakani and Iranian Safavid eras by Moravej, identical visual features in the brocades of India and those found in Iran were stated. For instance, a scarf designed with flowers in green, yellow, light blue on an ivory background had narrow stripes with abstract designs. Also, the robes and waistbands were decorated with bushes of flowers and continuous patterns of creepers. The layout of the scarf included a field, cross border, end-panel, fringes, and side panels, which is very similar to the Ashavali Sari. It is evident that the flamboyant Indian kinkhwab reached Iran and was worn by the Muslim rulers.

Ashavali Brocades from the 18th to the 20th century saw royals wearing kinkhwab sashes at the waist during the Mughal era, woven on Indian draw-looms in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Master weavers of Ashaval created patterns like paisleys and floral borders. Kinkhwab, a type of brocade, used gold or silver zari to add luster to silk, making the base sparsely visible. Kinkhwab was used for blouse pieces in the Saurashtra market, and 19th and 20th-century saris simplified in style. Royals wore Choga, Achkan, Shervani (men), and chaniyacholi with odhani (women).

Today, Ashavali brocades are being sustained by the third generation of a single household in Ridrol village, Gujarat. The weavers also migrated from Ashaval to nearby villages named Ridrol, Nardipur, Upera, Gajhariaya, and Charda in Mehsana District, where new weaving clusters were developed. Until 1920, there were around 150 looms in all the villages. Gradually, the traditional textile declined at these clusters as well because of a deficiency of labour, underprivileged socio-economic conditions of weavers, financial crises, and migration of educated youth to urban areas. One weaver, Somabhai Patel, flourished the Ridrol cluster again in around the 1940s with a set-up of 5 looms at his home. The weaving declined due to the reduced demand for kinkhab. Gradually, over the years, the production of this traditional textile reduced once again. Earlier Jala technology was being used for weaving intricate patterns since the past 40 years, but in 1986, they replaced the primitive jala system with the jacquard mechanism. Twelve new looms with the jacquard mechanism were set up. Later, more weavers from Varanasi, both Hindu and Muslim, came to Ridrol and started weaving. At present, the size of the Ridrol cluster has grown to up to 100 looms.


The design of the Ashavali saree consists of three main factors: saree layout, motif selection, and color combinations.

The saree layout comprises a main field, side border, pallu, a minor panel, a major panel, and a cross border. The field of the sari begins after the cross border. The side borders have metallic weft that does not run from selvedge to selvedge. One side border is woven up to the length where the sari is wrapped around the waist. The end-piece and cross borders are woven in a two-layer structure. Borders are woven on narrow looms using extra warp or extra weft. Zari is used as extra warp/extra weft. The base of the saree also has many options, sometimes plain weave, plain silk with small buti, heavy jangla design, or nowadays artisans also use patola ikat patterns. While the brocade work can cover the entire body of the sari, it is more commonly seen restricted to the border and pallu.

The selection of the motif depends on the layout of the saree. The decorative motifs are inspired by nature, art and craft, monuments, statues, temples, gods and goddesses, and daily utility items. The style of outlining the motifs in contrasting colors is named as minakari or inlay work, which is the distinctive characteristic of Ashavali brocades.

Popular motifs include representations of animals and birds, human figures with elephants, tigers, peacocks, and parrots. Intricate floral borders and trellis patterns are also used. The mango-shaped pattern, known as paisley, became a widely used motif from the 11th century onward, becoming the standard corner motif (Konia) in saris and dupattas (veils) in most of India’s centres. Persian floral patterns were copied in Gujarati brocades and can be seen on the exquisite end panels of Mughal sashes and Ashavali saris.

Architectural masterpieces, blending Saracenic and Hindu forms, seemed to act as an illustrated pattern book for weavers. The multifarious geometrical decorations of these buildings were adopted as the chief motifs by the Islamic rulers. The introduction of zoomorphic art forms, such as animals or birds blending into flowers or leaves, became the new style, like hathi zal (elephant), mor zal (peacock), popat zal (parrot), dhanush zal (bow), badrum (ogival), and so on.

The Ashavali saree woven in present times has coarse patterns entirely in twill-woven metallic thread or multiple colors of silk. Two samples in the Calico museum also depict a 4/1 satin weave foundation of the sari.

Colours of the saree is bright like red, green, purple, pink etc. and they go well with the gold zari. To highlight the motif some elements of the zari motif is also filled by a contrast colours.

To revive old products, artisans are also using natural colours, and they look extraordinary. Even artisans are exploring cotton sarees, and both products are popular and in high demand.


The demand for the expensive and richly brocaded Ashavali saree has decreased due to the decline in royal patronage and the introduction of cheaper mill-made products. The value and intensity of colors changed over time, becoming brighter and more flamboyant, while the yarn quality also deteriorated in later centuries.

These fine aristocratic sarees began disappearing in the early 20th century due to changes in upper-class fashion demands. The brocades of Gujarat fell victim to this shift, with the upper class preferring plainer fabrics over the Mughal kinkhwab. Furthermore, after independence in 1947, many traditional Muslim clients who used these brocades migrated to Pakistan, leading to a decline in demand for such textiles.

In today’s scenario, the demand for the saree has increased, but very few skilled weavers remain. The artisan community is also facing problems with duplicate machine-made products from Surat. In photographs, these products may resemble Ashavali sarees, but their quality and durability have no match with the original products.

Introduction Process:

Brocade weaving is an intricate and time-honored craft that involves the meticulous creation of opulent fabrics, with Ashavali saris serving as a noteworthy example. This traditional art form, rooted in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, utilizes a variety of raw materials, including mulberry silk thread, zari (gold and silver threads), and natural dyes. Employing both traditional and modern tools, such as wooden pit looms, graph paper, and sophisticated jacquard looms, the process encompasses careful planning, card punching, dyeing, and weaving. The skilled artisans follow a step-by-step procedure, involving the preparation of the warp, intricate card punching for pattern control, and the weaving of vibrant threads, including zari for an exquisite metallic appearance.

Raw Materials:

Silk: The primary raw material for many brocades is primarily mulberry silk thread.

Zari: The gold and silver threads used in Indian brocades were mainly produced in Surat and Varanasi. Zari is generally of two types: badla and kalabattu.

  1. Badla zari was made of flattened gold or silver wire, the ancient method of making zari from pure metal without any core thread.
  2. Kalabattu zari is made by winding thin silver or gold wire around silk or cotton, and now even rayon thread.

Dyes: Before the advent of commercial chemical dyes, natural and vegetable dyes were used. Generally, silk is dyed with acid colors, though it has an affinity for direct basic and reactive dyes. Acid colors are preferred, however, because they are colorfast and easy to use. To develop natural colors, artisans are using indigo for blue, henna, turmeric, and lac for red.


Tools & Tech:

Loom: Traditional pit looms with jacquard looms are commonly used for brocade weaving. These looms allow for the precise manipulation of warp and weft threads to create complex patterns.

Graph Paper: Used for designing and plotting the intricate patterns of the brocade motifs. The design is often translated onto the graph paper before being transferred to the weaving cards.

Punch/Weaving Cards: Long sheets or cards with punched holes, used in jacquard looms to control the pattern of the fabric. Each card corresponds to a specific row of the design.

Shuttles: Small tools that hold the weft threads and are passed back and forth through the warp threads to create the fabric. Colored threads are often wound onto shuttles.

Spindles: Devices that hold and rotate the spools of yarn. The threads from the spindles are often connected to the punched cards to guide the yarn on the loom.

Heddles: Small wire or string loops through which the warp threads pass. Heddles are used to control the movement of warp threads during weaving.

Reeds: Combs or frames through which the weft threads are passed. Reeds help maintain an even spacing of the warp threads and beat down the weft.

Beaters: Devices used to pack down the weft threads after each pass of the shuttle, ensuring a tight and even weave.

Needles and Scissors: Tools used in the finishing stages of weaving to cut away extraneous threads and tidy up the final fabric.

Lighted Surface: Used during the final inspection to check for any cuts or flaws in the woven fabric.



Traditionally, Ashavali saris and brocades have been woven on 105 cm wide pit looms, using the twill weave, causing the motifs to appear raised or embossed. The warp is prepared by the womenfolk of the weavers’ families. Weavers are assisted by apprentices, often boys from their own family or caste/jamaat, who lift selected warp threads as required by the design while the weaver inserts the extra threads as required.

Step 1 – Design Planning:

Develop a motif on graph paper, meticulously numbering and measuring each square.
Fill in colors on the graph paper to represent the final design.

Pattern makers draw intricate designs on a small loom, serving as a guide for the weaver on the larger draw loom.

Transfer the geometric design onto long sheets or cards.

Original designs were initially drawn on mica, later replaced by paper within a grid.

Step 2 – Card Punching Process:

Holes are punched by patthakati (card punchers) in the cards based on the design for use in the loom.

Graph paper diagrams provided to card punchers for strip preparation.

Each card, with multiple rows of holes, corresponds to a specific design row.

Cards, often numbering from 1500 to 2500 for an average sari, are strung together.

Step 3 – Dyeing Yarn:

The off-white yarn is bought from the market and taken for dyeing. This is an extremely crucial step since the colors of the saree depend on it. The process must be carried out with proper materials and dyes to ensure a good color on the saree. The dyeing colors are added to huge containers filled with boiling water. In this process, the silk yarn is immersed entirely into the dyeing solution and left to dry for 2-3 days after. Bright colors like pink, purple, green, yellow, red, orange, and blue have been used traditionally for dyeing the silk yarn. The artisans may also use a shade card provided by the government or the silk suppliers to dye the silk yarn.

Step 4 – Warping Process:
This is generally carried out in the morning to ensure that the color from the dye does not fade. The length of the yarn is tied between the two poles and is stretched. A cotton thread is laced into the warp to check for entanglements in the yarn, and the breaks are knotted. One warp is used for making 5-6 sarees, and around 3-4 people assist the artisan in the warping process. Zari threads are meticulously stretched along the warp, contributing to the metallic gold appearance in the creation of a saree.

Step 5 – Petting the Loom: After warping, the warp sheet is transferred into the weaver’s beam. In this process, the strands of yarn pass through the reeds. This is done by joining each silk strand to the old warp threads manually. It takes nearly a few days to complete this joining process, and it is usually performed by the women of the family.

Step 6 Weaving Process: This process is carried out on fly shuttle pit looms. The weaver interlaces the silk threads of weft and warp. Once the shuttle is passed, the suspended sley is pulled to form the weave according to the design using Jacquards/traditional design tools mounted on the handloom. According to the design, the portion of woven cloth is wound onto the wooden beam, located in front of the weaver.

Step 7 – Shuttle Weaving: In this step, the dyed silk yarn is brought in for spinning. The bundle of yarn is placed onto the spinning wheel and reeled onto spindles. These spindles are later inserted into the fly-shuttle in the weaving process. Shuttles move through the warp, introducing weft colors and designs in the handloom.

Cross Cord Operation: Cross cords are employed to lift warp threads, following the pattern established by the naqshaband.

Jala (Framed Harness): The framed harness, referred to as a jala, exhibits a net-like appearance as yarns crisscross downward, contributing to the intricate weaving process.

Step 8 – Finishing Process:

  • Skilfully the extra threads on the reverse side of the fabric are cut.

The person overseeing the cutting of extraneous yarn is known as the katorna.

Step 9 – Final Inspection:

  • Examine the reverse side of the fabric to appreciate the heavy fabric with coloured threads.
  • Conduct a thorough check over a lighted surface to ensure the fabric’s flawless quality.


Yarn Waste: Trimmings and leftover yarn from the warping and beaming processes contribute to yarn waste.

Punch Card Waste: Punched cards used in jacquard looms are typically made of paper or other materials and may contribute to waste.

Extraneous Thread Waste: Threads that need to be cut off the reverse side of the fabric during the finishing process contribute to waste.

Cluster Name: Ahmedabad-Ahmedabad


Ahmedabad is a city in the state of Gujarat. This city is an eclectic blend of old and new, and lies on the banks of the river Sabarmati. It has stood witness to many rules from the Mughals to the Marathas and has been home to many famous nationalist leaders during the freedom struggle. This is resplendent with its beautiful architecture, arts and handicrafts.

District / State
Ahmedabad-Ahmedabad / Gujarat

Hindi, English, Gujarati, Urdu
Best time to visit
August - March
Stay at
Many good hotels are available around the year.
How to reach
Bus, Train, Aeroplane
Local travel
AMTS, BRTS, Auto, Cab
Must eat
Gujarati Thali, Fafda, Papdi


Around the 11th century, archaeological evidences state the existence of Ahmedabad by the name of Ashaval. Karandev I, the Solanki ruler of Anhilwara waged a war against the then Bhil king of Ashaval and established a city called Karnavati on the banks of river Sabarmati.

Gujarat was taken over by the Vaghela dynasty in the 13th century. It was soon seized by the Delhi sultanate in the 14th century. Soon during the early 15th century Muzaffar Shah I crowned himself the sultan of Gujarat after he detached himself from the Delhi sultanate. He founded the Muzaffarid dynasty which went on to rule till the Marathas came in during 1758. Ahmedabad derived its present name from Muzaffar Shah's grandson Ahmed Shah who ruled from 1411 AD. It went through a series of occupation by the Mughals and then back to the Muzzafarids till emperor Akbar set foot in 1573.

During the Mughal reign, Ahmedabad became one of the Empire's thriving centres of trade, mainly in textiles, which were exported as far as Europe. The Mughal ruler Shahjahan spent the prime of his life in the city, sponsoring the construction of the MotiShahiMahal in Shahibaug.

The Mughals surrendered the city to the Marathas in 1758. The British East India Company took over the city in 1818 during the Third Anglo-Maratha War. A major development took place in the year 1864, when railway line was laid that connected Ahmedabad with Bombay. These developments brought Ahmedabad on the map of leading centers of trade and manufacturing.

The Independence struggle and movements had seen a strong centre in Ahmedabad with the presence of Mahatma Gandhi who established the Kochrab Ashram near Paldi in 1915 and the Sabarmati Ashram on the banks of the Sabarmati in 1917. It witnessed many protests like the Dandi salt march and the Quit India movement until India got its Independence in 1947.

During the 1960s a large number of educational and research institutions were founded in the city, making it a center of higher education, science and technology.

Ahmedabad has now flourished into a thriving city with strengthened infrastructure and economy and lived past the many trials and tribulations in the form of riots and natural calamities.


Ahmedabad lies in the state of Gujarat at an elevation of 174 ft above sea level. It is located on the banks of the Sabarmati River. The Kankaria lake and the Vastrapur lake are the two manmade lakes within the city limits. Its longitude and latitude are 720º 41' E and 230º 1' N respectively.

By Air - The Sardar Vallabhai Patel Airport is just 10 kms from downtown Ellis Bridge/Ashram Road area. It functions for both domestic and international purposes. Direct Air India and Indian Airlines flights go to the Gulf and to other destinations through intermediate stations. Domestic flights on Air India, Indian Airlines/Alliance Air, Jet Airways and Gujarat Airways will take you to Delhi Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Pune, Jaipur and several other destinations within the country.

By Rail - Ahmedabad has a well maintained railway network connected to important destinations of the country. Ahmedabad railway station is the largest railway station in the state of Gujarat. Various express and super fast trains are available between Ahmedabad and important cities of the country.

By Road - Ahmedabad has a good network of roads also. National highways connect cities like Vadodara, Rajkot, Jamnagar and Mumbai. The Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) runs express and luxury deluxe buses to the neighboring towns and cities. One can reach the city by taxi from nearby cities.


Ahmedabad has a hot, semi arid climate which is mostly dry throughout the year. The temperatures peak to 45 degrees Celsius in the summer months from March to June. The monsoons bring in relief from July to September with an average annual rainfall of 800 mm. The winters span from October to February bringing in mild chills with temperatures dipping to 10 degree Celsius.


Ahmedabad is a thriving city with its infrastructure matching upto many of the metropolitan cities. Ahmedabad is endowed with abundant supply of natural resources like minerals, forests and rivers. The principal mineral resource in the city includes crude oil. The river Sabarmati is the main water resource for the people of Ahmedabad. It provides drinking water to the entire city. There are two lakes present within the city's limits - Kankaria Lake and Vastrapur Lake. Kankaria Lake, in the neighborhood of Maninagar, is an artificial lake developed by the Sultan of Delhi. The city's forest cover is decreasing day by day due to rapid industrialization.

Ahmedabad city is an administrative headquarters of Ahmedabad district, administered by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. The city's suburban areas are administered by the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA). Electricity in the city is generated and distributed by Torrent Power Limited, owned and operated by the Ahmedabad Electricity Company, which was previously a state-run corporation. Ahmedabad is one of the few cities in India, where the power sector is privatised. The Sardar Sarovar Project of dams and canals has improved the supply of potable water and electricity for the city.

The city is equipped with health facilities both private and government aided. Ahmedabad hosts many prestigious educational institutions like the Indian Institute of Management, the National Institute of Design, CEPT etc.


Ahmedabad was once a fortified city. It has now grown beyond the old gates and walls. The city is divided by the Sabarmati River into two physically distinct eastern and western regions. The eastern bank of the river houses the old city, which includes the central town of Bhadra with the Bhadra fort. This part of Ahmedabad is characterized by packed bazaars, the pol system of close clustered buildings, and numerous places of worship. The colonial period saw the expansion of the city to the western side of Sabarmati, facilitated by the construction of Ellis Bridge in 1875 and later the modern Nehru Bridge. The western part of the city houses educational institutions, modern buildings, residential areas, shopping malls, multiplexes and new business districts.

Monuments and structures of the Indo-Saracenic style can be still found in Ahmedabad. The Sidi Saiyyed Mosque is one such example. Many Havelis from this era have unique carvings and can be seen in the ancient pols of Ahmedabad. When the city stepped into the modern era it was honored with many world renowned architects like Louis Kahn, F.L.Wright, B.V Doshi and Le Corbusier who were commissioned to design many of the buildings like IIM, Calico Mills, Gandhi Ashram etc.


The Gujarati culture is a vibrant and active one. Popular celebrations and observances include Uttarayan, an annual kite-flying day on 14 January. The nine nights of Navratri are celebrated with people performing Garba which is the folk dance of Gujarat at venues across the city. The festival of lights, Deepavali, is celebrated with the lighting of lamps in every house, the decorating the floors with the 'Rangoli' and the bursting of firecrackers. Other festivals such as Holi, Ganesh Chaturthi, Gudi Padwa, Eid ul-Fitr and Christmas are celebrated with enthusiasm. The annual Rath Yatra procession on the Ashadh-sud-bij date of the Hindu calendar and the procession of Tajia during the Muslim holy month of Muharram are integral parts of the city's culture.

The people of Ahmedabad enjoy rich culinary traditions. The most popular form of their meal is a typical Gujarati thali (meal) consisting of rotli, dal, rice and Shaak (cooked vegetables, sometimes with curry), with accompaniments of pickles and roasted Papadums. Popular beverages include buttermilk and tea; sweet dishes include laddoos and mango.


The major religions followed by the people are Hinduism, Jainism and Islam. The city is also home to a substantial population of Parsis. The traditional Gujarati dresses for women consist of the lehenga choli or the ghagra choli. These are colorfully embroidered and complemented by bare-backed blouses extending to the waist. Ghagras or lehengas are gathered ankle-length skirts that are fastened at the waist. The entire outfit is completed by a veil cloth called Odhni or dupatta which is thrown across the neck or over the head. Gujarati men usually attire themselves in dhoti, long or short coat and turban cap. The urban population, however, has progressed towards contemporary forms and sports the latest in fashion.

Famous For:

The kite festival of Ahmedabad is sight to behold. The festival marks the days in the Hindu calendar when winter begins turning to summer, known as Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan. Kites of all shapes and sizes are flown, and the main competition is to battle nearby kite-flyers to cut their strings and bring down their kites. Since 1989, the city of Ahmedabad has hosted the International Kite Festival as part of the official celebration of Uttarayan, bringing master kite makers and flyers from all over the world to demonstrate their unique creations and wow the crowds with highly unusual kites.

Navratri celebrations are another striking feature. The place erupts into a nine-night dance festival, perhaps the longest in the world. The dance form called Garba is followed where people dance around in circles uniformly to beats in the traditional steps.

The Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad is a site which is prominent in Indian history. It was the center of Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent struggle for India's independence. The ashram is located on the banks of river Sabarmati and was established in 1917.

The Adalaj stepped well is a much visited architectural attraction of Ahmedabad. Built in 1499 by Queen Rudabai, wife of the Vaghela chief, Veersinh, this five-storey stepwell was not just a cultural and utilitarian space, but also a spiritual refuge. It is believed that villagers would come every day in the morning to fill water, offer prayers to the deities carved into the walls and interact with each other in the cool shade of the 'Vav' (well). Another remarkable feature of this step well is that out of the many stepwells in Gujarat, it is the only one with three entrance stairs.


List of craftsmen.

Documentation by:

Team Gaatha

Process Reference:

Interview : Paresh Patel

The time-honored Ashavali brocades of Gujarat

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Cluster Reference: