To be praised is easy and to be criticized even easier. But to be admired by everyone equally is the real challenge. A feat achieved by Ahmedabad’s Marine Drive, the Sabarmati Riverfront unequivocally.
With the solace of graceful water flowing with all its elegance on one side, lush green grass on the other, cool breeze wafting by and the night sky, you are bound to taste heaven for the precious moments that you stay there. A heaven for the young and old, rich and poor, the elated and the depressed alike.
1961 – It was back in the year when citizens of the city proposed for riverfront project.
1966 – The Government of Gujarat thought this project to be workable
1976 – An incremental approach was proposed by the Riverfront Development Group
1992 – In order to reduce water pollution there was a National River Conservation Plan proposed that lead to the construction of sewers and pumping stations
1997 – For the Sabarmati Riverfront there was a development corporation set which was funded by the Government of India with a capital of ₹10 million (US$140,000) towards the development of the riverfront.
1998 – Environmental Planning Collaborative (EPC) led by Bimal Patel prepared the feasibility report
The Sabarmati River has been an integral part of life in the city of Ahmedabad since the city was established in 1411 along its banks. It became a cultural symbolism to the way of life in the city, but gradually the state of the river started reflecting the way it was being treated regularly.
Some Information About Riverfront:
Architect: Bimal Patel-led HCP Design, Planning and Management Pvt. Ltd
Developer: Sabarmati River Front Development Corporation Limited
Cost: ₹ 1152 crore (till June 2014)
Size: 202.79 hectares (501.1 acres)
There had been a long-standing acknowledgement that the riverfront could be turned into a major urban asset from its undesirable state. It can be dated back to 1960 when proposals were made to achieve the same but it was in 1998 when this multi-dimensional project was visualized and undertaken by the city.
Talking further about the river, it has a channel of 382 metres with the narrowest cross-section of 330 metres. While it has been uniformly narrowed down to 263 metres without affecting its flood-carrying capacity.
There were several times when this project faced issues with regards to the relocation and rehabilitation of more than 10000 slum dwellers who resided along with river banks. It was after a lot of petitions filed by the activists that Gujarat High Court intervened and put a stay on further construction and demolition of slums until there is any proper planning to do so.
One can have an 11.2 km walk along the river on the east and 11.3 km on the west side. It consists of 31 ghats that are constructed at a regular interim. There are several boating stations that have been created for recreational purposes and facilitating water-based public transport in future some of which are already functioning.
It has become a favourite spot for fitness enthusiasts. The best time to visit this serene place is during either the early morning hours where one can find hordes of joggers, walkers, runners, cyclists, skaters, yoga enthusiast, laughter club members and many more or after the sun has set for the day and the cool breeze starts flowing through the city.
Riverfront Major Events
It is a major attraction with membership cards available and also nominal prices for an hour or half of the cycling within 30 rupees. One government-issued ID has to be deposited against the cycles taken which can be later collected back after the cycles are returned in the same state as before.
There is also a zip line for the children to enjoy which takes you from one side of the riverfront to the other and back over the water. A thrilling experience for the children with steadfast security and precautionary measures in place, it is a must-go because let’s face it, where else would you get that within 5 km of your home.
Sabarmati Marathon is an annual marathon foot-race held in Ahmedabad during January-February every year. Its establishment is dated in 2010.
Cyclothon is subdivided into 3 categories, with three different routes between Sabarmati Riverfront and Science City – is one that suits all. There is a Century Race for people who excel in cycling on a route length of 105 km and a Half-Century Race for the trained and athletic ones for a length of 48.5 km. The third is a ‘Dream Run’ for amateurs, open for all age groups on a short route of 16 km only.
Markets at Riverfront
There is planning of constructing Several markets, vending areas, business and event grounds near the riverfront. The famous Sunday market of the city known as Ravivari or Gujari Bazar is moved to the new location near Gaekwad Haveli. This market started functioning in February 2014 and has an arrangement of zones with 1641 platforms for vendors.
The 2018 edition of the show was spread over an area of one lakh sq mt. Moreover, the show will be a display space for more than 750 species of flowers, plants, bonsai, vegetable plants and trees — with more than 50 of these species marking a debut at the show.
International Kite Festival
The kite festival of Ahmedabad is one of the most celebrated events of the city and organised at an international level with kite enthusiasts from all over the world coming over.
There is a proposal to construct parks and gardens on 26% of reclaimed land which will be for public recreation and also to enhance the environment. Some of the parks have been already constructed while others are under construction and proposed. Talking about the Riverfront Flower Park, it has 330 native and exotic flower species. The cost behind its construction was ₹ 18.75 crores and opened in March 2016 for the public.
There is a proposal for construction of an urban forest in Paldi which will be divided into two parts by Ambedkar Bridge. It will consist of a garden on the north side and a biodiversity park in the south. This forest will have 15000 trees and the projected cost is ₹ 167 crores.
The riverfront is featured in several Gujarati films like Gujjubhai The Great, Love ni Bhavai and more.
The riverfront for all its magnanimity has also won several awards and national recognition. Few of which we have mentioned below with the year of their felicitation.
1999: Prime Minister’s Award for excellence in urban planning and design
2006: Prime Minister’s Award for excellence in “Urban Design & Concept” Award – Excellence in “Urban Design and Concept”
2006: National Safety Council of India – Safety Award (Prashansa Patra)
2011: Housing and Urban Development Corporation Award (HUDCO) – Innovative Infrastructure Development
2012: Housing and Urban Development Corporation Award (HUDCO) – Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment
2014: Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC) Vishwakarma Award – Best Construction Project
That is all about the Sabarmati Riverfront of Ahmedabad. A must visit place if you are in Ahmedabad, hands down. For more information about Ahmedabad keep visiting the blog.