Sarkhej Roza – “Acropolis of Ahmedabad”

Sarkhej Roza is located 8 km southwest of the city of Ahmedabad in the Indian state of Gujarat. This mosque and tomb complex is known as “Acropolis of Ahmedabad”, due to 20th century architect Le Corbusier’s famous comparison of this mosque’s design to the Acropolis of Athens.

Sarkhej was once a prominent centre of Sufi culture in the country and is where the influential Sufi saint Shaikh Ahmed Khattu Ganj Baksh lived. The architecture of this complex is credited to the Persian brothers Azam and Muazzam Khan. The complex was originally spread over 72 acres, surrounded by elaborate gardens on all sides. Over time human settlements came around it, eating into the gardens and reducing the area to 34 acres.

Shaikh Ahmed Khattu Ganj Bakhsh the friend and advisor of Ahmed Shah I, retired to Sarkhej in his later life and died here in 1445. In his honour, a tomb was constructed by Ahmed Shah II. The construction of the tomb was begun in 1445 and was finished in 1451. The next sultan Mahmud Begada was fond of the place and expanded the complex greatly. He dug a large lake, surrounded it with cut stone steps and built a splendid palace on its south-west corner. He also raised a mausoleum for himself and his family opposite to Ganj Baksh’s tomb.

Main Entrance to Sarkhej Roza
The Tomb of Shaikh Ahmed Khattu Ganj Bakhsh
The details of the jali work on the Tomb
More details
The Jalis seen from inside
The Tomb – interior
The Tomb – interior
The mausoleum of Muhamad Begada and family members

There is a sixteen pillared structure popularly known as Baradari is situated in the central portion of the open courtyard and is seen when we enter the main gate of the Roza. There is a folklore which says that the excavation of the lake and the building of the Jama masjid in its initial states were supervised by Shaikh Ahmed Khattu himself from the Baradari.

The Baradari

Beyond the Mausoleum of Ganj Bakhsh is a courtyard, covering more than an acre of ground, surrounded by cloisters, is a huge mosque. The other side of the lake on the south-west corner are Mahmud Begada’s palace and harem.

The Mosque
The Mosque – Details
The huge courtyard in front of the Mosque
The Mosque – details

The Mosque – details
The Lake

The structures around the lake
The structures around the lake
The structures around the lake
The lake and the structures
The structures around the lake

Like many of Ahmedabad’s structures the architecture of Sarkhej Roza is a combination of elements of Hindu and Islamic design. Most of the buildings do not have arches and depend on pierced stone trellises for stability.

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Ahmedabad – Part XIII: Dada Hari Vav

This much neglected but aesthetically built vav or stepwell is situated in Asarwa area of Ahmedabad city. When it was built in 1500 AD, Asarwa was a village by itself, which has now become an area of the city of Ahmedabad. The stepwell was built by Dhai Harir, a household lady of Sultan Mahmud Begada. She was believed to be the superintendent of the royal harem. Behind the stepwell is the mosque and a tomb built by Dhai Harir, where she was buried.

Built in sandstone this octagonal stepwell is five stories deep. Each floor is built on intricately carved large numbers of pillars and spacious enough for people to congregate. There are air and light vents in the roofs at various floors. From the first storey level, three staircases lead to the bottom level of the well. At the level of the ground, it is 190 feet long by forty feet wide. At the east end, from a domed canopy, a descent of few steps leads to a covered gallery. Built along a east west axis, the entrance is from the east and the two spiral staircases in the west. These spiral staircases are now closed.

The air and light vents in the roofs at various floors and at the landing level are in the form of large openings. From the first story level, three staircases lead to the bottom water level of the well, which is considered a unique feature. The top part of the well is vertical and opened to sky. The carvings of flowers and symbols of Islamic, Hindu and Jain gods are carved at various levels of the well.

The first gallery of the well bears two inscriptions, one in Sanskrit and one in Arabic. As per these inscriptions, the well was constructed in 1500 AD during the reign of Mahmud Shah by Dhai Harir Sultani. The name later corrupted into Dada Hari.

Dada Hari Vav
Dada Hari Vav
The domed canopy at the east end
The domed canopy at the east end
The ceiling of the domed canopy
The ceiling of the domed canopy
Steps towards the gallery
Steps towards the gallery
Interior view of the stepwell
Interior view of the stepwell
The bottom of the well - there is no water
The bottom of the well – there is no water
View from the bottom
View from the bottom
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Inscriptions in Arabic from the first gallery
Inscriptions in Arabic from the first gallery
Inscriptions in Sanskrit from the first gallery
Inscriptions in Sanskrit from the first gallery
View from top
View from top

Behind the stepwell is the 16th century mosque built on a platform. The mosque is a 5 domed structure with 2 minarets (which collapsed long ago). The mausoleum contains the tomb of Dhai Harir Sultani. The tomb is beautiful structure with stone carved lattice windows.

The mosque behind the stepwell
The mosque behind the stepwell
The qibla inside the mosque
The qibla inside the mosque
Mosque - architectural details
Mosque – architectural details
Mosque - architectural details
Mosque – architectural details
The mausoleum of Dhai Harir Sultani
The mausoleum of Dhai Harir Sultani
The door to the tomb
The door to the tomb
Mausoleum - architectural details
Mausoleum – architectural details
One of the lattice windows of the mausoleum
One of the lattice windows of the mausoleum

Mata Bhavani’s well
This is another stepwell which is located about 200m north of Dada Hari’s. This well is several hundred years older and is used as a Hindu temple now.

Inside Mata Bhavani's stepwell
Inside Mata Bhavani’s stepwell
Inside Mata Bhavani's stepwell
Inside Mata Bhavani’s stepwell
Inside Mata Bhavani's stepwell
Inside Mata Bhavani’s stepwell
Inside Mata Bhavani's stepwell
Inside Mata Bhavani’s stepwell

Ahmedabad – Part XI: Raj Babri Mosque and the Mausoleum of Bibiji

The Raj Babri Mosque was built in 15th century during the rule of King Ahmed Shah and is famous for its shaking minarets. The mosque originally had two shaking minarets out of which only one remains today. One of the minarets was dismantled by an inquisitive English man in an unsuccessful attempt to find out how it worked. The remaining minaret stands 40 feet high with carved balconies and windows along with a narrow staircase from inside. Its lower parts are richly carved with floral ornamentation of varied patterns.

The Raj Babri Mosque
The Raj Babri Mosque
The Raj Babri Mosque - frontal view
The Raj Babri Mosque – frontal view
Details of the minaret
Details of the minaret
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Inside the mosque
Inside the mosque
Inside the mosque
Inside the mosque
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
View of the mosque from outside
View of the mosque from outside

The east of the mosque is the mausoleum of Makhduma-i-Jahan or Bibiji, mother of Sultan Qutbuddin Ahmad Shah.

The tomb of Bibiji
The tomb of Bibiji

Ahmedabad – Part X: Sidi Bashir Mosque and the Shaking Minarets

This mosque is believed to be constructed by Sidi Bashir, a slave of Sultan Ahmed Shah. The mosque was constructed in 1452. Only the minarets and arched central gateway remain today, as the body of the remaining part of the mosque was destroyed in 1753 during the war between the Marathas and the Gujarat Sultanate.
The mosque is famed for its 21.3 meter high shaking minarets (jhulta minars). A gentle shaking of either of the minarets results in the other minaret vibrating, though the connecting passage between them remains free of vibration. The minarets were designed to shake to protect against earthquake damage, which certainly worked in 2001.

The Shaking Minarets of Sidi Bashir Mosque
The Shaking Minarets of Sidi Bashir Mosque
A closer view of one of the minarets
A closer view of one of the minarets
The arched gateway
The arched gateway
Architectural details of the pillars
Architectural details of the pillars
Architectural details of the pillars
Architectural details of the pillars
Architectural details of the pillars
Architectural details of the pillars
Architectural details of the pillars
Architectural details of the pillars
Architectural details of the pillars
Architectural details of the pillars

Ahmedabad – Part IX: The Pattharwali Masjid or Qutbuddin’s Mosque

This Mosque is one of the less explored mosques in Ahmedabad, but rich in intricate carvings and Hindu elements in its design. The mosque was constructed in 1449 during the reign of Sultan Muhammed Shah II by Nizam son of Hilal.

Pattharwali Masjid or Qutbuddin’s Mosque
Pattharwali Masjid or Qutbuddin’s Mosque
The main entrance of the mosque
The main entrance of the mosque
The main entrance and pillars
The main entrance and pillars
The tank in front of the mosque
The tank in front of the mosque
The jaali work around the tank
The jaali work around the tank
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details

Acknowledgement:
I would like to express my special thanks to Mr. Narendra J Otia (njotia@gmail.com), a heritage enthusiast and photographer for his help and assistance in exploring the various mosques and temples in Ahmedabad.

Ahmedabad – Part VIII: Rani Sipri’s Mosque and Tomb

This small mosque is also known as Masjid-e-Nagira (Jewel of a Mosque) due to its graceful construction. The mosque is named after the Hindu queen of Sultan Mahmud Begada, Rani Sipri. The queen commissioned this mosque in 1514 AD when her husband executed their son for some minor misdemeanour. After her death, the queen was buried in this mosque. This mosque is remarkable with delicately carved minarets (which survived many earthquakes) and domed tomb with fine jaali screens (lattice windows).

Rani Sipri’s Mosque
Rani Sipri’s Mosque
Rani Sipri’s Mosque - interior view
Rani Sipri’s Mosque – interior view
An intricately carved pillar - details
An intricately carved pillar – details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
View from back side of the mosque
View from back side of the mosque
Rani Sipri’s Tomb
Rani Sipri’s Tomb
Rani Sipri’s Tomb
Rani Sipri’s Tomb
Jaali work on the tomb
Jaali work on the tomb
Jaali work on the tomb
Jaali work on the tomb
Architectural details of the tomb
Architectural details of the tomb
Architectural details of the tomb
Architectural details of the tomb

Ahmedabad – Part VII: Rani Rupamati’s Mosque

This mosque was built by Mahmud Begada during 1430-1440 AD. The mosque is named after Rani Rupamati the wife of Sultan Qutubuddin. After the death of Qutubuddin his brother, Mahmud Begada became the sultan and he married Rani Rupamati. The mosque has three domes and slim minarets. These minarets were collapsed during the earthquake of 1819. This is one of the mosques where an attempt was made to combine the arched Islamic and flat Hindu styles. The mosque is remarkable due its richly carved lattice windows and balconies.

Rani Rupamati’s Mosque
Rani Rupamati’s Mosque
Rani Rupamati’s Mosque - main entrance and the pillars
Rani Rupamati’s Mosque – main entrance and the pillars
The qiblah inside the mosque
The qiblah inside the mosque
Pillars inside the mosque
Pillars inside the mosque
Intricately carved balconies
Intricately carved balconies
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
One of the carved windows
One of the carved windows
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
Architectural details
View from back side of the mosque
View from back side of the mosque

Close to the mosque in the same compound, is the tomb of Rani Rupamati and the other queen. These tombs were covered by a large central dome and two side domes.

The tomb of Rani Rupamati and the other queen
The tomb of Rani Rupamati and the other queen
The tomb of Rani Rupamati and the other queen
The tomb of Rani Rupamati and the other queen
Inside view
Inside view
View of the central dome and one of the small domes
View of the central dome and one of the small domes