Places to See In and Around Ahmedabad - Part III
Continuation from earlier Parts
This article is a continuation of
- Part I at http://jatinderjoshi.hubpages.com/hub/Places-to-See-in-and-around-Ahmedabad and
- Part II at http://jatinderjoshi.hubpages.com/hub/Places-to-See-in-and-around-Ahmedabad-Part-II
Sidi Saiyyad Mosque
Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad is famous all across the management world for its academic excellence, as also for training some of the sharpest brains that India has produced. The logo of this famous institution draws its inspiration from the famous ‘jaali’ (stone mesh) of the Sidi Saiyyad mosque that is located close to the Lal Darwaza in Ahmedabad.
This mosque was constructed in 1573 by a slave of the then Sultan. The slave was named Sidi Saiyyad, and the mosque derives its name from the name of this slave. This mosque was built in the last year of the Sultanate rule in Gujarat, just before the Sultanate was defeated by the Mughal dynasty. The mosque consists of ten semi circular windows whose major appeals are the splendid mesh or ‘jaali’ that is covering them. This mosque has gained a worldwide recognition, due to its splendor. This skillfully carved mosque is truly the one of its kinds in the whole world. The Jali screen windows represent the Indo-Saracenic styling, which is admired by people all over the world. You too can view the same in my photographs that have been taken by me while living in Ahmedabad.
The pierced stone windows in the photograph are carved in the style of a tree with palm leaves and curved tendrils. This mosque is a superb example of delicate carvings that can transform a carved stone into filigree. The beautiful carved stone windows depict the intricate intertwining of the branches of a tree. This intricately carved stone window is called the Sidi Saiyyed Jali. Wooden models of these windows, which are a fine example of Indo-Sarcenic architecture, are also kept in the New York and Kensington museums.
The famous 'Jaali'
Intricate Carvings on the Stone 'Jaali'
Next in the list of the places to see in and around Ahmedabad is the Jama Masjid that is the finishing point of the heritage walk, 'the temple to mosque' walk - a walk that starts from the Swami Narayan Temple, goes through the various old and until now preserved living 'pols' (residential areas) and 'ols' (commercial area) and finally finishes at the Jama Masjid.
The Jama Masjid
Ahmedabad was founded in 1411 by Sultan Ahmed Shah, who also had the Jama Masjid or Jami Masjid constructed during his reign. The mosque was built in 1423 AD in the Indo Saracenic style; a style that is a fusion of Hindu and Islamic architecture. The mosque was constructed with yellow sandstone and has 15 domes. It is documented in the Britannica Encyclopaedia that the mosque was constructed using pieces that were retrieved from demolished Hindu and Jain temples. This can also be inferred from the fact that the mosque has some very unique features of the Hindu and Jain architectural traditions; some of the domes are designed in such a way that they have open lotus flower patterns inside the dome that are commonly seen in the domes of Jain Temples. Also, some pillars have carvings displaying bells hanging on a chain which is generally seen in Hindu Temples. The mosque thus gives one a feeling that this monument was created using items which could once have been a part of demolished Jain and Hindu temples of that period.
This grand mosque that is believed to be largest constructed during that period, lies in the heart of the old city, and is very close to ‘Teen Darwaza’ and the Mahatma Gandhi road. Here is the link to the location - http://goo.gl/maps/z3wHJ One can get a plan view of the rectangular compound; the 15 domes and the mosque proper by viewing the enlarged version in satellite view. The map is attached below this write-up.
The mosque is enclosed in a rectangular area bounded on three sides by a wall and a colonnade, on all these sides. The entrance to the mosque is through three entrances that are located in the centre of the Northern, Southern and Eastern periphery walls/ colonnades. These entrances open onto a large rectangular courtyard, which has a rectangular ablution tank in the centre. The rectangular courtyard is about 75m by 66m. The mosque itself is located on the Western edge of the courtyard, and the sanctuary is a hypostyle hall that measures about 210' X 95'. The prayer hall is rectangular and the two hundred and sixty columns divide the space into fifteen bays or three rows of five square bays. There is an elevated platform with a ‘jaali’ all around that shields the occupants of the platform from the people below. There are differing versions about the usage of this platform; one version says that this was used by the royal family during the prayers in the mosque. The other version says that this was used by women in purdah during the prayers. I am not sure about the veracity of the second version, as women are traditionally not permitted in the mosque during prayers. I would love to hear from someone who knows about this.
A visit to this grand mosque is a must for any one visiting Ahmedabad. Tourists are permitted in the mosque during non-prayer halls; they are expected to remove their footwear at the entrance to the mosque and maintain peace and decorum that is expected in any holy place.