The Sabarmati Riverfront has been gaining some momentum as a tourist spot for the last few years and is one of the major locations to visit if you find yourself in Ahmedabad. Now, it's not like a riverfront can just appear out of thin air, right? Sabarmati has always had a riverfront. But it was only recently that it started getting converted into something more accessible to the public. Rather, it was only recently that it was converted to a place that the public would want to access.
The development of the riverfront is only a recently undertaken project, with only some parts being open to the people. But its limited nature could not stop it from being the go-to place for residents and tourists alike.
Overview of Sabarmati Riverfront
The centrepiece of the Riverfront would have to be its two-level promenade. It provides an uninterrupted walkway for pedestrians that is a whopping 11.4 km long. The lower level of the promenade, which is accessible to the public at present, is close to the water level and is constructed in a way that serves cyclists and pedestrians alike, at the same time providing adequate access to water.
It also has a large number of amenities that include but are not limited to elevator access, regular seating arrangements for the public, public washrooms, boating facilities and a total of 31 Ghats constructed at regular intervals to ensure the smooth continuation of all traditional cultural activities involving the Sabarmati.
The upper level of the promenade is still under construction, with plans of housing other public features at the city level. The riverfront is just over 10 km long and some of the features it provides include walkways over the river, breath-taking gardens, exciting amusement parks, golf courses and water sports parks. That’s not all; it provides a stunning view of the river, if you choose just to take a walk along the serene river.
The promenade is full of health-conscious citizens of Ahmedabad as they finish a quick jog along the river. The fresh air and exercise provides a welcome relief from everyday life that will begin soon after the jog. It’s safe to say that the Sabarmati Riverfront provides one of the most exclusive and satisfying experiences if one chooses to visit Ahmedabad.
History of Sabarmati Riverfront
As the city grew, it went down an all-to-familiar path that led away from its roots, as it usually happens. The river was initially an important source of cultural, economic and recreational activities. But as the city expanded, it was only a matter of time before neglect, and not reverence, was the only aspect one could associate with the river.
It had become a dumping ground for industrial waste as well as untreated sewage. This led to heavy levels of pollution. The staggering lack of infrastructure for one of the most significant pillars of the city, not to mention the severe risk of flooding, was increasingly becoming an issue that had to be addressed sooner or later.
Image Gallery of Sabarmati Riverfront Ahmedabad
Timeline of Conception and Development of Sabarmati Riverfront
The growing need for a solution to the problem that Ahmedabad’s growth had presented with regard to the river gave birth to the idea of a developed waterfront. It was first suggested in the 1960s by French architect Bernard Kohn.
Through various proposals throughout the 70s and 80s, an idea was finally developed and in 1997, the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation Limited (SRFDCL) was set up by the Municipality of Ahmedabad, with funding from the Government.
Progress after initial planning
The project was effectively underway by 2005, with the start of construction. Owing to the depth of the project, land reclamation and a proper sewage system were essential parts of the initial stages – with an estimated ₹ 900 Crore construction cost.
In 2012, as the lower levels of the promenade on both banks finished construction, the riverfront was finally open to the public. The Sabarmati Riverfront was inaugurated by the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi himself. Subsequently, other parts of the riverfront were gradually opened up as and when the necessary constructions were concluded.
Things to see and do when you’re at the Riverfront
As of today, the Sabarmati Riverfront serves as a major attraction in the city of Ahmedabad to residents and tourists alike. Boating activities are a popular attraction of the riverfront, with 3 boating centres constructed and operational as of today.
You could just take a walk along the pristine paved roads, as you navigate your way through nimble cyclists and joggers who seem to be ever present on locations like the riverfront.
Notwithstanding the gorgeous views as one walks along the promenade and the tranquillity afforded by the promenade’s public-oriented seating arrangements and similar features, the riverfront also offers a variety of other amenities, even in its current stage of development.
1. “Ravivari”: The Market offers a permanent site for housing the traditional or authentic flea market known as “Ravivari”. It provides a specified vending area that includes 1641 vendor platforms, vehicular access, paved walkways, 4 public washrooms, seating area, food courts, and parking. To add to this, close to 900 trees have also been planted around, with the aim of providing shade to all.
2. The Event Centre: The riverfront also boasts of an Event Centre with over 5 hectares of space, offering a wide range of venues for organizing local as well as international events. Efficiently organized infrastructure is what the Event Centre has to offer its patrons.
It has facilities ranging from a stage with back-stage facilities and a VIP Lounge, to designated parking zones for event halls and lighting provision. The centre hosts a wide range of business, recreational as well as educational events. This adds to the identity of the riverfront as a valuable asset to the city. It also enhances the growth of the city as a whole.
3. Dhobighaat: As of 2014, the Sabarmati Riverfront is your one stop destination if you’re a resident of Ahmedabad and need your laundry done. This is owing to a unique facility that the riverfront promenade provides for the citizens of Ahmedabad – the Laundry Campus.
Spanning over a total area of almost 9400 m2 , the facility has vehicular access and an inbuilt lighting system. It houses 7 blocks, each with designated wet areas on the ground level with respective drying areas at terrace levels. It has also been equipped with a separate water supply system as well as electricity.
Proposed ideas for further development of the Riverfront
1. Green Initiative: Parks, Plazas and Urban Forests: It has been proposed that approximately 26% of the reclaimed land will be converted in public Parks and Plazas in the heart of the city. This will provide the city with some much-required greenery and a respite from the prevalent condition of the “concrete jungle”. Two of the proposed Parks, located near Subhash Bridge and Usmanpura, have already been completed and are open to the public, with many more on the way. Two urban forests have also been proposed, in Paldi and Khanpur. There are plans of turning these forests into centres of biodiversity as well as outdoor performances and concerts.
2. Environmental benefits and reduction of pollution: In addition to the greenery initiative, various construction projects have also been undertaken. These projects aim to reduce the level of pollution in the river and improve the conditions of the environment in the surrounding area as a whole.
To that end, the brand-new integrated sewage and storm-water systems intercept as many as 38 former discharge points for industrial (and other) wastes and diverts them to treatment plants situated near the Vasna Barrage, further south of the river.
Treated sewage water, along with water from the Narmada Canal, is what keeps replenishing the Sabarmati itself. Walls constructed on either of the banks have also contributed greatly to the prevention of erosion and flooding of the low-level areas on the banks.
3. The Exhibition Centre: This project has been proposed as a trade-fair centre on the eastern banks of the Sabarmati river, right in the heart of the city, between Sardar bridge and Ellis bridge. The idea is to create a multipurpose convention centre with state-of-the-art facilities and flexible space plans to accommodate visitors as well as exhibitors, catering to both their needs and fancies.
4. Residential and commercial projects: A total of 14% of the reclaimed lands will also be used for residential and commercial purposes that include the construction of 8 museums as well as the SRFDCL headquarters building. The slums that had taken root near the banks prior to the commencement of the development project have been relocated to reserved sections of the reclaimed land.
A total of 4000 houses have been built to house approximately 10000 residents. Incidentally, this very relocation project was the cause of the entire riverfront project being delayed several times, since the relocation of such a large number of people was not an easy task.
The situation had escalated to a level where the Gujarat High Court had to intervene, as a result of petitions from activists, to halt any construction as well as demolition of the slums until proper relocation planning could be implemented and executed.
5. Event management: Apart from the amenities that the riverfront provides, it naturally plays host to a large number of annual cultural and recreational events. Some of these events include the Sabarmati Marathon & Cyclothon, flower shows and air shows as well as the International Kite Festival.
For the International Kite festival, the entire riverfront is decorated every year in the month of January.
The Sabarmati Marathon is a significant event at the riverfront, attracting a large number of local along with a number of foreign participants as well. Organized by the city’s municipal corporation, this event was established in 2010 and since then, around 10000 people participate in it every year.
6. In popular culture: The riverfront has also been featured in several Gujarati and Bollywood movies.
Interesting facts about Sabarmati Riverfront
The development project for the Sabarmati Riverfront has been the recipient of numerous awards over the years starting from 1999, right up to 2014 (the inauguration year of the Laundry Campus)
● Several cities which include Vadodara, Surat, Pune, Varanasi, Chennai and Noida have been inspired by Ahmedabad’s approach at riverfront development and plan to undertake similar projects in the future.
● Bernard Kohn kept proposing plans for the Riverfront Development project till 1966, when it was finally considered feasible by the government; ironically, he distanced himself from the project that year since the implementation of the project was different from his original proposals!
● A grand total ₹1152 Crore has been spent as of 2014 on the Riverfront Development Project.
● The governing body of the project, SRFDCL, is also building its own office complex (which has been nicknamed “SRFDCL House”) near Nehru Bridge, at the proposed commercial and cultural central hub.
● SRFDCL began the project with only ₹9 Crore as seed capital!
The Sabarmati Riverfront thus is the perfect tourist spot anyway you look at it; from the tourist’s perspective, you have a beautiful riverfront that offers a wide range of activities that will keep you occupied all day.
From the perspective of a responsible citizen of the planet Earth, you breathe a little easier as you see all the good that it's doing for the environment as well.
From a city’s perspective, the Sabarmati Riverfront already generates a large amount of revenue from the various amenities it provides, and it will only add to that, as the only limit to its growth is mankind’s progress as a species.
How to reach Sabarmati Riverfront
The Sabarmati is only about 3 km from the Sardar Vallabhbhai International Airport, while the riverfront is officially about 10 km from it. Airport road leading out of the airport connects to Riverfront road directly, about 4 km from the airport, on the eastern side of the Sabarmati; Riverfront road runs along the Sabarmati and is the primary road on the banks of the river. The western bank of the Riverfront is accessed through Ashram Road.
For your Ahmedabad tour, you can also opt for a private cab from top car rental companies in Ahmedabad and explore all the popular sightseeing places of Ahmedabad in a relaxed manner.
Ahmedabad offers plenty of tourist attractions that one can visit on their Ahmedabad tour. We at Ahmedabad Tourism, a division of Holidays DNA offer Ahmedabad Tour packages that one can opt for at budget friendly prices. Please fill the Contact Us form and we will get back to you.