Ahmedabad Mosques Reveal The Past Through Architecture And Inscriptions
A signal feature of the historic city of Ahmedabad that helped it win the World Heritage Site status earlier this month is its unique amalgam of customs and traditions of both Muslim rulers and Hindu and Jain subjects. That syncretism is the legacy of the Sultanate era. Visitors need not go farther than city mosques in the Walled City and areas such as Sarkhej, Shah-e-Alam, and Isanpur to appreciate the spectacular cultural synthesis.Professor Ramji Savaliya, the director of the BJ Institute of director of the BJ Institute of Learning and Research, said that Scottish historian James Fergusson notes in his book, “Architecture at Ahmedabad, the Capital of Goozerat,” that Islamic architecture of the city is essentially de rived from local Jain forms. So much so, says Fergusson, that without the knowledge of the Jain form, it is impossible to understand the peculiar merits of Indo-Saracenic architecture.

“Records about monuments and literary sources prove that there was a flourishing town at the same location much before the foundation of Ahmedabad in 1411,“ Savaliya said. “The town had temples, derasars, and mosques. It would not be a stretch to say that the best of pre-Ahmedabad architecture is preserved in the city mosques.“

In his 1942 book titled “Muslim Monuments of Ahmedabad“, M A Chaghatai mentions that the uniqueness of the city lies in its mosques, stepwells, and public buildings covering eight centu ries from 445 After Hijri (AH) AD 1035 to 1200 AH AD 1785 in a six square mile (15 sq km) area.


The inscriptions divulge the full name of Sultan Ahmad Shah I, the founder of the city, as Abu’l Fath Nasiru’d-Dunya wad-Din Ahmad Shah. He was born on 19th Zi’l-Hijjah, 793 AH (18 November, AD 1391) and ruled for 32 years, 6 months and 22 days. He established two mosques in the city

As mentioned by Chaghatai, only a few mosques in India have records of their establishment by women.But in Ahmedabad, no fewer than six mosques record in their inscriptions that they were built by women -four of royal houses and two from noble families

Qutb-i-Alam mosque, built in AD 1469, has an inscription which indicates that the mosque was commissioned by Khwaja Sarae Isan Sultani, bearing the title of Khwasu’l-Mulk, who was a eunuch in charge of the harem of Sultan Mahmud Begada. Such inscriptions are rare in other parts of India

The style of calligraphy of all these inscriptions display a special type of NaskhiTughra a particularly decorative form, indicating a deep artistic genius

The earliest inscription is recorded at Kach ni Masjid in Jamalpur dating back to 445 AH AD 1035, 400 years before the establishment of the city. However, the existing mosque is newer

The verse at Sarkhej Roza gives the reason for the area’s name: “When the ocean of Ahmad’s (Ganjbaksh Khattu) palm scatters pearls, Hope’s hem becomes the treasure of Parwiz; no wonder, if in order to bend before his shrine, the whole surface of the earth becomes Sarkhez (raises its head)“

Inscription at the Shah Alam mosque mentions the place as Rasulabad, a green area full of trees, fragrant flowers, and atmosphere recalling the Garden of Paradise

The inscription at the Azam Khan Sarai uses word `Qayasariya’ for the spot, meaning `imperial dignity’. But it could also be related to markets after a market was named so in Isfahan in Iran. Historians believe that it reflects Persian roots of governor Azam Khan who had commissioned the building in AD 1635stoi1


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