Once upon a time, very, very long ago, the Sabarmati river used to be the lifeline of Ahmedabad city. The city was founded along the banks of the Sabarmati, in fact, in 1411. The river was the city’s main source of water, economic activities and recreation for the residents of Ahmedabad.
The sad state of the Sabarmati
As the years passed, though, the Sabarmati began to get more and more neglected. Sewage water and waste from industries flowed into the river, and slums built up alongside its banks. The detritus after performing poojas and the last rites of loved ones began to be thrown into the waters of the river. Over the years, the river began to wear a dull, grey look as it ran wearily through the city. The charm of the Sabarmati was lost, entirely.
Cut to 2005.
The Sabarmati began to see some heavy-duty action, all for the better. A plan for the refurbishing of the river (which was proposed as far back as the 1960s) finally began to, finally, see the light of day.
The slums alongside the river banks were cleared, and the displaced slum dwellers were rehabilitated. The waters of the Sabarmati underwent deep cleansing. Facilities were set up for the effective disposal of the city’s sewage and industrial waste, and to ensure that the river waters stay free of pollution.
Landscaped gardens, walking and jogging tracks, play areas for children, activity centres, food and drink stalls, boating and zip-lining facilities and well-lit pavements began to be constructed around the river. The unorganised vendors who congregated every Sunday by the riverside to sell everything from antique locks and typewriters to goats, second-hand clothes and books were organised into a well thought-out, proper marketplace.
Cut to 2014.
The rejuvenation of the Sabarmati river was finally completed, at the cost of crores of Indian rupees. The Sabarmati Riverfront became a beautiful, beautiful place, well-lit and cheerful. The waters of the river now looked pristine, a pretty deep blue that were a far cry from the murky depths it held just a few years ago.
The Sabarmati Riverfront today
Today, the Sabarmati Riverfront is a major attraction for tourists and locals alike, a weekend hot-spot. It is a lovely, lovely place, perfect to spend a few hours in. It has something to offer everyone, a well thought-out, well-constructed space. On our recent visit to Ahmedabad, we visited the Sabarmati Riverfront and, I must say, I was stunned to see just how beautiful it looked. This is the first time I saw the river after the riverfront was developed.
The banks of the Sabarmati have always been the venue for the International Kite Festival, but the festival became hugely popular only after the development of the riverfront. Today, the International Kite Festival here draws crowds from several countries across the globe. A flower show is also held here every year, attracting hordes of people from all over the city. We had the opportunity to check out both the International Kite Festival 2018 and the Flower Show 2018 while at the riverfront, earlier this year.
The charm of the Sabarmati is back, big-time. The river is, once again, the lifeline of the city. Wikipedia says, “The riverfront has succeeded in re-establishing the connection between the residents of Ahmedabad and the Sabarmati”, and I very heartily agree.
Glimpses from the Flower Show 2018
We were lucky to be in Ahmedabad exactly when the Flower Show 2018, held at the Sabarmati Riverfront, was on. The event has been a huge success in the last few years, and it was so this year as well, if the crowds thronging the venue were anything to go by. We got to see some really lovely installations, and I managed to capture some of them on camera, despite the jostling crowds.
I leave you with some visuals from the Flower Show 2018.
The Sabarmati Riverfront is a charming place, spacious enough to accomodate the huge crowds that can usually be found here, especially on the weekends. When we visited, it in broad daylight, the riverfront looked absolutely gorgeous. I hear the place looks stunning in the nights, all lit up. Well, day or night, this is definitely a spot that merits a visit. Whenever you are in Ahmedabad, do check out this lovely place!
There is no entry fee. If you wish to take up an activity – like boating or zip-lining – separate charges would be applicable. Do try to time your visit with to Ahmedabad to coincide with an ongoing festival here – I bet you’ll love the experience!