Located on the Sabarmati River, Ahmadabad was founded in 1411/814 AH by the Muslim Sultan Ahmad Shah, the ruler of Gujarat. Newly proclaimed, the ruler felt vulnerable in the capital of Anahilvada-Patan, and moved his court to Ashaval, a Hindu settlement that supported him, and which he renamed Ahmadabad, after himself.
The new capital of Gujarat developed rapidly with the palace as the nucleus, encircled by a commercial districts. The Bhadra Fort represents the footprint of the original city. The nobility settled outside the city limit, forming their individual settlements. These settlements, known as puras, were named after their respective founders with the suffix of 'ganj' attached, like Nurganj or Muradganj.
Ahmadabad became a part of the Mughal Empire in 1572/980 AH under Emperor Akbar. In 1817/1232 AH, the British took over and the East India Company made it the military and administrative center of Gujarat. No longer the capital of Gujarat in post-Independence India, Ahmadabad is still a principal city with a thriving cotton industry earning it the title of 'Textile City'. Architecturally, the city boasts some of the most interesting examples of fifteenth century Gujarati style. The Jami Masjid and the Mausoleum of Ahmad Shah are an adaptation of indigenous Hindu and Jain architecture; the Siddi Saiyad's Mosque is famous for its exquisite yellow stone latticework, the Rani Sipri's mosque is an elegant dedication to Sultan Mahmud Begara's Hindu wife.
Modern Ahmadabad is spreading west of the Sabarmati River. This portion of the city plays host to the work of two famous architects, Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn. Sanskar Kendra, Mill Owners' Association building and the private residences of Sarabhai and Shodhan were designed by Le Corbusier, while the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) by Louis Kahn is one of the top college for business studies.
Davies, Philip. The Penguin Guide to the Monuments of India - Volume 2: Islamic, Rajput, European. London: The Penguin Group, 1989.
R.N. Mehta and Rasesh Jamindar. "Urban Context." In Ahmadabad, edited by George Michell and Snehal Shah, 1. Bombay: Marg Publications, 1998.
DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: India London: Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2002.
Mata Bhavani ni Vav, or the stepwell of Mata Bhavani, is a well located in the Asarva neighborhood of Ahmedabad, just to the north of the old city center. Its name refers to a small temple dedicated to the Hindu goddess Mata Bhavani built within the well. Based on stylistic grounds, scholars date the well to the eleventh century/fifth century CE with later additions. The temple itself is likely among these later additions.
The plan of the well follows the same structure as many stepwells in Gujarat: a straight stairwell leads from an entrance at surface level down several stories to the level of the well. This stairwell is broken into stages by subterranean pavilions (kuta), that rise in stories supported by pillars to above ground level. The top stories of these vertically-oriented pavilions are covered by canopies. The entrance, located on the west side of the well, is unceremonious. A stairwell descends from this point through three pavilions, dividing the whole into three stages. One interesting feature of this well is that the stairs break into smaller flights that descend at right angles to accommodate for the steepness of the stages. At the bottom of the stairwell just before the deepest pavilion, the stairwell breaks into several cascades at right angles that surround a small square ornamental pool. The deepest pavilion, on the east side of the small square pool, gives access to the well cistern itself.
The decoration of this well is not lavish. The canopies covering the top stories of the subterranean pavilions are ornamented with rampant lions and some images of Hindu deities.
Burgess, James. The Muhammadan Architecture of Ahmadabad. Part II, 1-3. London: W. Griggs and Sons, 1905.
Jain-Neubauer, Jutta. The Stepwells of Gujarat in Art-Historical Perspective, 35-37. New Delhi: Abhinav, 1981.