Located on the Sabarmati River, Ahmadabad was founded in 1411/814 AH by the Muslim Sultan Ahmad Shah, the ruler of Gujarat. Newly proclaimed, the ruler felt vulnerable in the capital of Anahilvada-Patan, and moved his court to Ashaval, a Hindu settlement that supported him, and which he renamed Ahmadabad, after himself.
The new capital of Gujarat developed rapidly with the palace as the nucleus, encircled by a commercial districts. The Bhadra Fort represents the footprint of the original city. The nobility settled outside the city limit, forming their individual settlements. These settlements, known as puras, were named after their respective founders with the suffix of 'ganj' attached, like Nurganj or Muradganj.
Ahmadabad became a part of the Mughal Empire in 1572/980 AH under Emperor Akbar. In 1817/1232 AH, the British took over and the East India Company made it the military and administrative center of Gujarat. No longer the capital of Gujarat in post-Independence India, Ahmadabad is still a principal city with a thriving cotton industry earning it the title of 'Textile City'. Architecturally, the city boasts some of the most interesting examples of fifteenth century Gujarati style. The Jami Masjid and the Mausoleum of Ahmad Shah are an adaptation of indigenous Hindu and Jain architecture; the Siddi Saiyad's Mosque is famous for its exquisite yellow stone latticework, the Rani Sipri's mosque is an elegant dedication to Sultan Mahmud Begara's Hindu wife.
Modern Ahmadabad is spreading west of the Sabarmati River. This portion of the city plays host to the work of two famous architects, Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn. Sanskar Kendra, Mill Owners' Association building and the private residences of Sarabhai and Shodhan were designed by Le Corbusier, while the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) by Louis Kahn is one of the top college for business studies.
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The mosque of Ahmad Shah, located along the south wall of the citadel, is the earliest dated mosque in Ahmadabad. It was once used as the sultan's private place of worship, and as the jami masjid. The sanctuary facade is plain, with five arches. The larger central arch is flanked by two buttresses that rise from the ground to the roof. There seem to have been slender turrets atop the towers, which were taken down or fell down in the 1819 earthquake. It is unknown if these towers were ever used for the call to prayer but it seems unlikely that these were actual minarets, as the internal staircases lead all the way to the roof. These are the earliest examples in Gujarat of gateway turrets brought down to the ground.
The interior of the mosque has ten large domes, divided into two rows, with smaller domes in between supported by one hundred fifty two pillars, many taken from Hindu temples. There are eight perforated stone windows that let light into the interior. There are five mihrabs, one for each span and all of black and white marble, with a sixth in the royal gallery. In the northwest corner twenty-five pillars surrounded by perforated stone screens form a zanana, a feature of early royals mosques in Gujarat. The entrance porch leading to the enclosure may be a remnant of an earlier temple on the site.
Alfieri, Bianca Maria, and F. Borromeo. Islamic architecture of the Indian subcontinent, 110-111. London, WC: Laurence King Pub., 2000.
Merklinger, Elizabeth Schotten. Sultanate architecture of pre-Mughal India, 71. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 2005.
Michell, George, and Philip Davies. The Penguin guide to the monuments of India. Vol. 2, 341. London, England: Viking, 1989.