I have been living in Ahmedabad for 10 years now. I like this city for many of its unique aspects, such as kindness and generosity for all living beings and the entrepreneurial spirit of its people. But being a student of past studies what fascinates me more about this city is its unique Indo-Islamic architecture, which is a blend of Hindu/Jain and Islamic aesthetics.
At the break of dawn in a weekend I stepped into the historic corridor of Mirzapur Road on the other side of River Sabarmati for a self – exploratory heritage walk. The objective was to appreciate and experience the aesthetics of the city’s Islamic buildings and life around them. Mirzapur Road is well-known for three medieval mosques, old residential quarters with European artistic influence and a Roman Catholic Church. However, my walk was centred on the Islamic heritage.
The first halt was at Rani Rupmati Mosque. It is named after the Hindu queen Rani Rupmati, the wife of Gujarat’s most celebrated Sultanate Kings, Mehmmud Begra. The mosque was constructed in the 15th century AD. It is also known as Masjid – e – Nargis. The mosque has domes and arches. It had also minarets which were lost to the earthquake that had hit Gujarat in the beginning of the 19th century. The most attractive features of this mosque are however its intricate carving and jail work on its front facade and balcony windows. The tomb of Rani Rupmati is situated next to the mosque.
My next stop was at Qutbuddin’s Mosque, located close to Delhi Chakla. The mosque is a landmark on the road and is also known as Pattherwalli Mosque. It was built during the reign of Sultan Muhammed Shah II in the mid 15th century AD. The mosque is stiff in proportion and rigid in style. Five arched entrances, the middle being the largest lead to its sanctuary. The minarets are broken. However, like Rupmati’s Mosque, its facade has beautiful carvings of geometrical patterns, trees, plants and the Hindu-Islamic motifs, kalasa.
A morning madrasa for children is run in the mosque for the learning of Holy Quran in Arabic. I met several of joyful children and had a great time.
My last stop was at the smallest yet splendid Muhafiz Khan Mosque situated in the corner of a road that connects the busy Ghee-Kanta Road. This was built in the last part of the 15th century AD during the reign of Sultan Mahmud Shah I. Muhafiz Khan, a noble man of the court was its builder. The mosque is distinctive for its intact minarets. Both minarets are richly carved. Another development noticed in this mosque is the three similar sized doorways instead of the large sized central doorway noticed in the earlier mosque. This mosque also has a madrasa attached to it offering religious education to children of the community.
After spending two hours of trail I headed to the Heritage Hotel of Mangal Das for a scrumptious breakfast to fill my empty stomach. It was indeed a memorable experience.