Amidst honking buses, speeding scooters and screeching cars, it stands still and calm at the eastern end of the Nehru Bridge. Ahmedabad’s fondness for the Sidi Saiyyed Masjid has been growing ever since it was built in 1573 AD and even today it never fails to surprise and elate the eager tourist.
The Sidi Saiyyed Masjid is one of the few major mosques built in the city at the end of the Sultanate rule. According to a tablet placed at the mosque, the monument was built by a learned man – Sidi Saiyyed, an Abyssinian in the retinue of Bilal Jhajar Khan, a general in the army of the last Sultan of Gujarat. Apart from this, no other information regarding the historical importance of this mosque is known. Yet, this mosque is an important part of Ahmedabad’s heritage and an excellent example of Islamic architecture in the city.
What makes this mosque monumental are the ten semicircular windows or ‘jhalis’, which are carved beautifully in this stone building. The magnificent stone tracery in these windows is a marvel to watch. When you look closely at these windows, you will realize that the artist has transformed mere pieces of yellow stones into sophisticated ornate windows. Workmanship with artistry of this kind can rarely be seen these days.
All the windows have different and distinguished latticework but there are two windows in particular, on the western wall of the mosque, that show interweaved trees and branches and are considered as masterpieces. One of these spectacular masterpieces is called the ‘Tree of life’, which has palm trees with swirling stems. This breathtaking asymmetrical intricate window has found a new meaning altogether. Today, the design of the ‘jhali’ is an unofficial symbol for the city and also has even been an inspiration for the IIM Ahmedabad logo.
The timeless piece of heritage is spectacular, stunning and uplifting. You can visit this mosque at any time during the day, but we recommend that these windows should also be seen in silhouette when the sun in the west side is streaming through.