Indo-Islamic Architecture in Gujarat

Before the Muslim conquest, Gujarat was under the influence of Jainism. The master-craftsmen whom the Muslims employed to construct their buildings adopted Hindu and Jain designs with necessary modifications to suit the puritanical taste of Islam. Sultan Ahmad Shah was a great builder. He founded the city of Ahmedabad in the first half of the fifteenth century and built mosques and palaces. Numerous buildings were erected during the fifteenth century at Ahmedabad, Cambay, Champaner and other important places. One of the most beautiful buildings is the mosque of Muhafiz Khan, which was built towards the close of the century. Besides mosques and tombs, Gujarat is famous for its step-wells, irrigation works and public orchards.

The Gujarat Style was a judicious mix of Islamic and Indian traditions of architecture.  The most notable point is that the mason’s guilds worked here and these guilds were able to retain the high techniques of stone architecture and sculpture that had greatly developed in Gujarat before the Muslim invasion. This was a significant departure from the Sultanate monuments of Delhi, where the style used was relatively archaic. However, in Ahamadabad also, false domes and archs were used such as in Rani Sipri Mausoleum.

The first mosque Ahmad Shah’s Mosque (1414), was made by the columns taken from existing temples. It was constructed in a wooden-like post and beam structure without using arches except for openings facing the courtyard and the Mihrab. Around the same time in 1424, the Jama Mosque was created which has great resemblance to the Jaina temples in Mt Abu and Ranakpur.

In Gujarat style, we find a lots of use of the Jaali work in stone. The example of exquisite Jaali work is the Sidi Sayyid Mosque (1572), which employs delicate design on the motif of a tree spreading its branches, is especially celebrated.

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