The World Heritage Committee (WHC) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) on Saturday, July 8, included three cultural sites in Cambodia, China and India into the World Heritage list.
In the process, Ahmedabad — one of the biggest cities in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi — became the first city from India to make its way to the list.
The decision was taken by the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee (July 9-12), chaired by Jacek Purchla, founder and director of the International Cultural Centre in Kraków.
The WHC, while including Ahmedabad in its World Heritage list, said: "The walled city of Ahmadabad, founded by Sultan Ahmad Shah in the 15th century, on the eastern bank of the Sabarmati river, presents a rich architectural heritage from the sultanate period, notably the Bhadra citadel, the walls and gates of the Fort city and numerous mosques and tombs as well as important Hindu and Jain temples of later periods.
It added: "The urban fabric is made up of densely-packed traditional houses (pols) in gated traditional streets (puras) with characteristic features such as bird feeders, public wells and religious institutions. The city continued to flourish as the capital of the State of Gujarat for six centuries, up to the present."
Ruchira Kamboj, ambassador and Permanent Representative of India to Unesco, said on the occasion: "Ahmedabad is where our Indian heritage speaks for itself. For over these 600 years it has stood for peace as a landmark city where Mahatma Gandhi began India's freedom struggle."
She added: "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."
Kamboj also said: "And beyond this, it epitomises the United Nation's objective of sustainable development as it accelerates in its development: chosen to be one of India's first smart cities, while preserving its ancient heritage."
Two other sites across the globe also found their place on the Unesco World Heritage list along with Ahmedabad.
The first of these is the temple zone of Sambor Prei Kuk, an archaeological site of ancient Ishanapura in Cambodia. The second is Kulangsu, a historic international settlement in China.
The choice of Ahmedabad as a World Heritage City may not be surprising to many, but what will definitely be surprising is how it was chosen over the likes of Delhi, Agra and several other ancient cities across India that have as much culture as — if not more than — Ahmedabad.