Ahmedabad, or as us Gujaratis call it, Amdavad, has been one of the oldest cities around. Lothal, one of the world’s earliest known docks and the southernmost city of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization is about 85 km from Ahmedabad. Located on the banks of Sabarmati river, the city has been a political and economic capital of the rulers since its establishment.
The city was known as Ashval or Ashapalli after the Bhil chief Ashval. Karna, king of Chaulukya dynasty who ruled over parts of India which are now in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh defeated the Bhil chief laid the foundation of the city, which he named ‘Karnavati’. In the second half of the 13th century, their rule weakened and Vaghela dynasty rose to power in Gujarat. However, their rule ended in 1299 when Alauddin Khilji invaded Gujarat, destroyed temples and conquered it.
In around 15th century, following the Islamic invasion, Gujarat Sultanate was established by the Muzzaffarid dynasty. Zafar Khan was appointed as governor of Gujarat by Nasir-ud-Din Muhammad bin Tughluq IV in 1391, who was the ruler of the principal state in Delhi Sultanate. Zafar Khan defeated Farhat-ul-Mulk near modern day Patan (which was the capital city of the Solanki dyansty) and made it his capital. When Timur invaded Delhi and weakened the Delhi Sultanate. Zafar Khan declared Gujarat independent and established the Gujarat Sultanate.
Legend has it that Ahmed Shah, Zafar Khan’s grandson, was banking on the river Sabarmati where he saw a hare chasing a dog. He asked the spiritual adviser about this intriguing site, to which the sage spoke about the characteristics of the city. Impressed, the Sultan decided to establish Karnavati as its capital. On 26th February 1411 at 1:20 pm, he laid the foundation of Ahmedabad. Ahmad Shah I, in honour of four Ahmads, himself, his religious teacher Shaikh Ahmad Khattu, and two others, Kazi Ahmad and Malik Ahmad, named it Ahmedabad. On 4th March 1411, he declared it as his capital. The Jama Masjid was built by him in 1424.
Eventually, Gujarat was invaded by the Mughals. After a brief rule by the Marathas, the British took over.
In 2017, the walled city of Ahmedabad was declared a UNESCO World Heritage City. Recently, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani announced that the state government is looking at legal and other angles to restore the name of the city to Karnavati.