On Gandhinagar’s 57th anniversary, we take a tour of the city’s development and talk about its interesting history and iconic features.
The city is famously known as the political, commercial and business hub of Gujarat. Over two decades ago, in 2001 Narendra Modi became the chief minister of Gujarat. His focus was on business growth and foreign direct investments. This resulted in the twin cities of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar becoming popular destinations for visiting dignitaries.
Capital of Gujarat
Unlike its peers, Gandhinagar was not chosen to be the capital of Gujarat but built to be one. After independence in 1947, when India and Pakistan split, the province of Gujarat became a part of the Bombay State. In 1956, the province was extended to include Kutch and Saurashtra.
This is when the Mahagujarat movement or the Mahagujarat Andolan started. The agitation demanded the creation of the state of Gujarat for Gujarati-speaking people. The movement also received a fillip from the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru-appointed States Reorganisation Committee, which in 1955 recognised the need for the formation of linguistic states. Finally, Gujarat was formed on May 1, 1960.
At the time of its formation, Ahmedabad was the largest city in the state. But it did not have enough space for political and commercial hubs and the resultant footfalls. It was decided to build another city solely as the capital city of the state. The idea was to plan the city and its infrastructure along the lines of Chandigarh.
For the same, architects HK Mewada and Prakash M Apte, who had earlier worked on the planning of Chandigarh city, were recruited to design the new state capital.
Besides being the political, commercial and business hub of Gujarat, Gandhinagar has several monuments that represent the rich history of Gujarat. It also boasts temples and museums.
Political and Constitutional Centres
Gandhinagar houses the Gujarat Legislative Assembly or Gujarat Vidhan Sabha. The old and new Secretariat Buildings are located in the city. Besides, the city is home to the Chief Minister’s Office as well as the headquarters of different political parties.
Vithalbhai Patel Bhawan: This building, famous for its architecture, is of political importance in Gandhinagar as it houses the state legislative assembly. Located in the new Secretariat Building, this is named after Sardar Vallabhai Patel’s brother. The elaborate architecture with the Ashoka Chakra Stambh on top of the building draws a lot of tourist footfall.
Commercial and Business Hub
GIFT City and IIBX: The Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City) is India’s first operational greenfield smart city and international financial services centre. The city is connected through four- and six-lane State and National Highways. A double corridor metro system is being constructed to connect GIFT City to the airport and various parts of Ahmedabad.
GIFT City has a dedicated Multi-Services Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for international operations of various service sector players. It also houses India’s first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC).
Recently, India’s first International Bullion Exchange (IIBX), which is located within the GIFT City, was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Dandi Kutir (Salt Mount) Museum: This museum is solely devoted to the struggle of Mahatma Gandhi in the Indian freedom movement and holds a great historical value. It is symbolic of Gandhi’s struggle against casteism and British colonialism.
As the name suggests, the museum describes Gandhi’s role in the Civil Disobedience Movement, especially organising the Dandi March against the imposition of salt laws. Visitors can learn about this part of India’s history through detailed audiovisuals, illustrations, paintings, memoirs and relics.
With the Gujarat government focusing on the economic development of the state, Gandhinagar has rapidly gained importance. In the past few years, this city has also emerged as a major tourist destination. From the Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple, Mini Pavagadh, Idroda Nature Park, Kishan Bhavan Fountain, to Santsarovar and the likes, tourists have a big platter of places to choose from.