Early in Ahmedabad’s history, under Ahmed Shah, builders fused Hindu craftsmanship with Persian architecture, giving rise to the Indo-Saracenic style. Many mosques in the city were built in this fashion. Sidi Saiyyed Mosque was built in the last year of the Sultanate of Gujarat. It is entirely arched and has ten stone latticework windows or jali on the side and rear arches.
This screen was basically made so that the mosque remains fully lighted from inside at all times of the day. The size of this artistic jali is around 16 feet and is in semi circular shape. It is situated at the height of around 20 feet above the ground level. The art work on these jails is so fine that a magnifying glass is required to view its internal intricate design in detail. The design consists of the flowers arrangement in various symmetrical shapes. They are made of smooth white stones and the fine engraving is done with human hands. Sadly, there does not seem to be any information about the actual craftsman who designed the jali. But it took around six years to get each of these jalis completed. Around 45 main artists worked on it, day and night.
The Symbol of Ahmedabad
The Sidi Saiyyed Mosque in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, is a sublime ode in stone to the extraordinary architectural legacy of the African diaspora in India. Although their forefathers were originally brought to India as slaves and maritime laborers, the descendants of these Africans rose to positions of power as military commanders in the armies of the sultans and became great patrons of art and architecture. Called Sidis (or Siddis), an appellation of Africans, or Habshis, from the Arabic-Persian word for “people from Abyssinia or Ethiopia,” one of them was Shaykh Sayyid al-Habshi Sultani, or Sidi Saiyyed, who constructed his eponymous mosque.
Built in 1573, the last year of the Gujarat Sultanate before the Mughals invaded, the mosque is one of the finest specimens of the prodigious architectural accomplishments of the Sidis in India. Situated in the heart of the 600-year-old walled city of Ahmedabad, the design of the mosque is entirely in the arcuate system of construction, involving arches, domes, squinches, and vaults. The mosque is set up like a theatre without a fourth wall, celebrated for the intricately carved filigree work on its jalis (screen windows).