Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Jami Masjid, Ahmedabad

Our tour started off in the Old City of Ahmedabad. The commercial and cultural capital of Gujarat was founded in 1411, built by the Sultan Ahmed Shah who received an auspicious sign there. Of the four million people living in the city, about 370,000 lived in the old walled city section. Many of the older structures are built in the Indo-Saracenic style, a fusion of Hindu and Islamic architecture. The first mosque we visited, the Jami Masjid, was one structure built in this style. Built in 1423 by the city’s founder, this yellow sandstone mosque with its 260 pillars and 15 domes was constructed using pieces retrieved from demolished Hindu and Jain temples. Its minarets were no longer present, having collapsed in a 1819 earthquake.

Still early in the morning (but after the call to prayer), the mosque’s large courtyard and ablution pool were empty. Sitting on a simple hand-woven striped rug in between a row the mosque’s column was an elderly man with large prayer beads around his neck. Above, an intricate octagonal corbelled cupola reminded me of the ones in the Jain temple in Ranakpur, Rajasthan. Light streamed in from the large arched entrances and smaller windows with carved geometrical jali designs. At its capacity of 10,000 worshippers, this mosque would likely take on a far different feeling than the tranquil one we experienced.

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