Ahmedabad – Part V: Jama Masjid & Mausoleums

The Jama Masjid of Ahmedabad is one of the largest and splendid mosques in the Indian subcontinent. Built by Sultan Ahmed Shah the mosque is situated outside the Bhadra fort area. The mosque was inaugurated on January 4, 1424 AD and was originally intended only for the private use of the sultans.
The mosque complex is centred on a large rectangular courtyard 75 m long and 66 m wide. There are three entrances to the mosque complex, one at the centre of each side. The courtyard is lined with colonnade on three sides and the prayer hall occupies the fourth side, which is on the east. In the centre of the courtyard is a rectangular tank for ablutions.
The rectangular prayer hall is covered by four domes. Some of the central domes are carved like lotus flowers, resembling typical domes of the Jain temples. The mosque and arcades are built of beautiful yellow sandstone and carved with intricate details. The two huge minarets flanking the main arched entranceway collapsed in the earthquake of 1819, their lower portions still stand. The main prayer hall has over 260 columns supporting the roof with 15 domes.

Jama Masjid
Jama Masjid
Jama Masjid
Jama Masjid
One of the domes, view from inside
One of the domes, view from inside
The mihrab inside the Masjid
The mihrab inside the Masjid
Pillars inside the masjid
Pillars inside the masjid
Pillars inside the masjid
Pillars inside the masjid
The area for women worshippers with lattice work
The area for women worshippers with lattice work
The main entrance of the masjid with the torana, typical feature of a temple
The main entrance of the masjid with the torana, typical feature of a temple
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
The hall around the compound
The hall around the compound
The tank for ablution in front of the masjid
The tank for ablution in front of the masjid

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Stands outside the Jama Masjid’s east gate, is the tomb of Ahmed Shah constructed after his death in 1442 by his son and successor Muhamad Shah. It includes the tombs of his son and grandsons. The mausoleum, locally known as ‘Badshah no Hajiro’ is a medieval mosque with a large central dome. There are four chambers at all four corners with delicately carved stone screen (jaalis). Women are not allowed to enter the mausoleum and men must cover their heads before entering.

‘Badshah no Hajiro’, the mausoleum of Ahmed Shah
‘Badshah no Hajiro’, the mausoleum of Ahmed Shah
Tombs inside
Tombs inside
Detailed stone works
Detailed stone works
Detailed stone works
Detailed stone works
The lattice work inside the mausoleum
The lattice work inside the mausoleum

Across the road is the ‘Rani no hajiro’ or the tombs of Ahmed Shah’s Queens, which is in very bad shape and encroached by the market, selling women’s clothing and jewellery

‘Rani no hajiro’ or the tombs of Ahmed Shah’s Queens
‘Rani no hajiro’ or the tombs of Ahmed Shah’s Queens
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Black-winged stilt

The Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) is a large black and white wader with long orange-red legs and a straight black bill. It has black on the back of the neck, a white collar and a red iris. Both sexes are similar, and the plumage does not change during the year. Black-winged Stilts give a repeated high-pitched barking call. Young Black-winged Stilts lack black on the back of the neck and have grey-brown wings and back, speckled with white.

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Ahmedabad – Part IV: The Hutheesing Jain Temple

This remarkably elegant temple is created out of white marble. It was built in 1848 AD at an estimated cost of 8 lakh rupees, a major sum at that period. The construction of the temple was initiated by Shet Hutheesing Kesarising, a wealthy Ahmedabad trader. The construction was supervised and completed by his wife Shethani Harkunvar after the untimely death of her husband. The temple is dedicated to Dharmanatha, the fifteenth Jain Tirthankara. The temple was built during a severe famine in Gujarat. By employing hundreds of skilled artisans the construction supported them for a period of two years during this famine.

The Hutheesing Jain temple is spread over a sprawling courtyard, a mandapa surrounded by a large ridged dome, which is supported by 12 ornate pillars. The main shrine on the east end reaches up into three stunningly carved spires and is encircled by 52 smaller shrines dedicated to the various Tirthankaras. The front is exquisitely ornamented by a dome shaped structure. The architect of the temple was Premchand Salat.

The pictures below are from the exterior of the temple. Photography inside the temple is prohibited.

Hutheesing Jain Temple
Hutheesing Jain Temple
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings
Details of the carvings

The outer courtyard of the temple is flanked by a recently built 78 feet Mahavir stambha (tower) fashioned after the renowned tower of Chittor in Rajasthan.

The Mahavir stambha (tower) inside the temple courtyard
The Mahavir stambha (tower) inside the temple courtyard
Another view of the tower
Another view of the tower
Tower details
Tower details
The door of the tower
The door of the tower

Ahmedabad – Part III : The Swaminarayan Temple at Kalupur

Built in 1822 AD, this is the first temple of the Swaminarayan sect and the headquarters of the NarNarayan Dev Gadi. The land for construction of this temple was given by the British Imperial Government in India to Swaminarayan. Sir Dunlop, the British officer was so impressed with the activities of Swaminarayan and his followers, that on behalf of the government he gave 5,000 acres of land in Kalupur area of Ahmedabad to build this temple. When the temple was completed, the officer was so amazed by the temple that he commanded a 101 gun salute to the temple. When the British government wanted to build a railway station in Kalupur, the temple returned part of the land, where Kalupur Railway Station stands today.
The temple was mainly constructed in Burma teak wood with opulent carvings of Hindu gods and goddesses in bright shades. The architecture of the central gateway is a mix of regional and British styles. Marathi and Rajasthani folk cultures and costumes are evident on the gateway sculptors.
The NarNarayan temple is the heart of the temple complex and was constructed with intricate carvings in pure Burma-teak, depicting deities and episodes representing Indian tradition and culture. The images in the temple are of Naranarayan Dev in the centre, Radhakrishna Dev on the right, Dharmadev, Bhakti Mata and Harikrishna on the left of the central hall.
The haveli to the west of the temple used to be the official residence of Acharya of the Naranarayan Dev Gadi. Now the ground floor of the front side houses the offices and inner portion accommodates the residence of the ladies who have devoted their life to the temple. The haveli on the north side of the temple was constructed by Acharya Maharjshree Keshavprasadji Maharaj in 1871. This haveli made in wood consists of intricately carved wooden pillars and balconies. An extensive central hall has been constructed on sixty pillars.
The temple attracts a million people the day after Diwali, the festival of lights, celebrated every year in autumn.

Swaminarayan Temple at Kalupur
Swaminarayan Temple at Kalupur
The main entrance gate of the temple
The main entrance gate of the temple
The intricately carved doors
The intricately carved doors
Door details
Door details
The temple
The temple
One of the entrances to the temple
One of the entrances to the temple
The carved arches
The carved arches
The carved arches
The carved arches
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
Detailed carvings
An intricately carved balcony
An intricately carved balcony
More of the carvings
More of the carvings
More details
More details
More details
More details
The grand haveli (traditional, ornately decorated house) in the temple complex
The grand haveli (traditional, ornately decorated house) in the temple complex
One of the elaborately carved pillars
One of the elaborately carved pillars
One of the elaborately carved pillars
One of the elaborately carved pillars
One of the elaborately carved pillars
One of the elaborately carved pillars
More from the haveli
More from the haveli
More details
More details

Ahmedabad – Part II : The Pols and Havelis

A special feature of Ahmedabad is the plan of the old city, comprising numerous ‘pols’ or self- contained neighborhoods, sheltering a large number of people. A pol normally comprises of many families of a particular group, linked by caste, profession or religion. These typical urban centers or neighborhoods are an integral part of the old city of Ahmedabad. The old city of Ahmedabad is made up of around 360 pols within a fortified compound. In the recent past, families have started moving out to live in modern houses away from the city center, but many of them still feel a strong bond to the closely-knit communities of the pols where they have grown up. These pols are traversed by narrow lanes, usually terminating in squares called ‘chowks’, consisting of a community well and bird feeders called ‘Chabutro’. Some pols have intricately carved temples as well. Each pol has its own distinctive architectural style and motifs.

Each pol is protected by a gateway, closed at night as safeguard against thieves. Inside each pol is one main street, with crooked lanes branching on either side. Most vary in size from five or ten to fifty or sixty houses. Pols are almost entirely inhabited by Hindus, in some cases by a settlement of families belonging to one caste, and in others by families of several of the higher castes.

Pols were originally made as a protection measure when communal riots necessitated greater security, probably dating from 1738, during the Mughal-Maratha rule in Ahmedabad. A typical pol would have only one or two entrances and also some secret entrances known only to people residing in the respective pol. Each pol generally has its own watchman and its own sanitary arrangements. The affairs of the pol were managed by a group of people. The house property in the pol is to some extent held in common. Formerly no one could sell or mortgage a house to an outsider without first offering it to the people of the pol. Though this rule was not kept later, inmates of a pol sold their houses to same caste people. On weddings and other great family occasions, each house holder is expected to feast the whole pol, and in some cases, all the men of the pol.

An entrance to a pol house
An entrance to a pol house
The details of the motif on the door. This is a Maratha motif.
The details of the motif on the door. This is a Maratha motif.
Another entrance
Another entrance
See the details on the door
See the details on the door
A typical entrance to the pol. You can see the security window at the top
A typical entrance to the pol. You can see the security window at the top
Another pol entrance
Another pol entrance
Narrow streets inside the pols
Narrow streets inside the pols
Pol houses
Pol houses
Pol houses
Pol houses
The windows
The windows
A pol house entrance
A pol house entrance
Windows
Windows
Pol house entrance
Pol house entrance
An entry to the pol
An entry to the pol
The entrance to one of the temples
The entrance to one of the temples
Entrance to the temple
Entrance to the temple
Wooden carvings
Wooden carvings
The courtyard of the temple
The temple courtyard
The deity
The deity
A wood carved entrance to the pol house
A wood carved entrance to the pol house
More entrances
More entrances
More entrances
More entrances
More entrances
More entrances
More entrances
More entrances
A typical Chabutro or bird feeder in one of the pols
A typical Chabutro or bird feeder in one of the pols
Another bird feeder in a square
Another bird feeder in a square
One of the pol entrances
One of the pol entrances
See the details of the motif
See the details of the motif
A finely carved pillar - view from the pols
A finely carved pillar – view from the pols
A Jain Temple with toranas
A Jain Temple with the toranas
Detailed carvings from the temple
Detailed carvings from the temple
Detailed carvings from the temple
Detailed carvings from the temple
Detailed carvings from the temple
Detailed carvings from the temple
Exquisitely carved balconies
Exquisitely carved balconies
A temple entrance
A temple entrance

Some pols contain old beautiful houses (havelis) with internal courts having intricate wooden carved facades with columns and fresco work done around court walls and ceilings. Today the owners of these havelis, being unable to bear the heavy maintenance costs have either sold their properties off or have let them fall to ruins, while they have settled in other places. The heritage cell of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is taking the initiative in restoring, some of these havelis.

The renovated haveli of renowned Gujarati poet Dalpatram
The renovated haveli of renowned Gujarati poet Dalpatram
A bronze statue of poet Dalpatram in front of the haveli
A bronze statue of poet Dalpatram in front of the haveli
Another haveli which is renovated to be a hotel
Another haveli which is renovated to be a hotel
More details from the renovated haveli
More details from the renovated haveli
More details from the renovated haveli
More details from the renovated haveli
More details from the renovated haveli
More details from the renovated haveli
More details from the renovated haveli
More details from the renovated haveli
Another renovated haveli
Another renovated haveli
See the steps from the side to the haveli
See the steps from the side to the haveli
This is the fine architecture of the old stock exchange building of Ahmedabad which is abandoned now.
This is the fine architecture of the old stock exchange building of Ahmedabad which is abandoned now.

The best way to explore the pols is to join for a ‘heritage walk’, an initiative of the Municipal Corporation, to unveil the heritage of the city to tourists and citizens. The walk commences from the Swaminarayan Temple, Kalupur and concludes at the Jama Masjid. Hence this walk is popularly known as the journey of ‘Mandir to Masjid’. The walk commences at 8.00am and concludes at around 10.30am, which also includes a slide show of 15 minutes. The details can be obtained from the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation website.