‘In 15th century, A’bad dwarfed London, Paris’
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Ahmedabad in the 15th century was bigger than London and Paris of the same era, says French architect Sarah Keller who was part of a 10-member team involved in the restoration project in the walled city area undertaken jointly by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and the French government between 2000 and 2005.
As part of the project, the team led by French architect Pierre Cadot stayed in the old city and documented its unique heritage of "life in the pols".
"The four-km length and three-km width of the older part of Ahmedabad founded by Ahmed Shah, which is visible even today inside the walled area, was bigger in size as compared to London and Paris during the same period. This emerged in the survey of the complete walled area undertaken by our team. We had restored and studied around 30 private structures including havelis in those five years. Now my job is to make this documentation widely available for further research and try to revive the project," said Sarah Keller, who teaches history of Gujarat at M S University in Vadodara.
The glorious heritage of the old city of Ahmedabad will now be archived at the new Heritage Resource Centre in the new building premises of Alliance Francaise, which will open in April.
"The project of restoration and renovation of the walled city was being developed by a team led by Pierre Cadot. They also were working on creating micro credit system that would enable the walled city area to be self-sustainable. The centre would be probably be the only institute which will house all the documents of the old city and we will open it for public access. We hope to highlight heritage and the wealth of documents left behind by the French architects," said Philippe Martin, director at Alliance Francaise d'Ahmedabad.