The mosque Jama Masjid (meaning Friday Mosque) is the oldest and most splendid mosque of Ahmedabad
, built in 1424 during the reign of Ahmed Shah. Lying in the old party of city, the mosque is situated opposite to Mahatma Gandhi Road, on the eastern side of Teen Darwaza
.The Jama Masjid of Ahmedabad was probably the largest mosque in the Indian subcontinent built in this period. Designed as part of a major plan desired by the Emperor Sultan Ahmed Shah, the mosque is located south of the processional axis that runs from the Maidan-i Shah at the door with three arches, Teen Darwaza.
To the west of the mosque are the tombs of Ahmed Shah, his son and his grandson (Ahmad Shah Rauza). Nearby are the graves of the queen and the other wives of the Sultan (Rani ka Hazira
). Built with yellow sandstone, the mosque complex is centered on a large rectangular courtyard 75 m long and 66 m wide. One enters the court by three entrances, one at the center of each side. The courtyard is lined with a colonnade on three sides, the prayer hall occupies the fourth (east) side. In the center of the courtyard is a rectangular basin for ablutions.
The prayer room is also rectangular and covered by four domes. In its Indo-Saracenic architecture, the mosque also contains many syncretic elements not necessarily obvious to the viewer: some of the central domes are carved like lotus flowers, closely related to the typical domes of Jain Temples
; and some of the pillars are carved with the form of a bell hanging on a chain, in reference to the bells that often hang in Hindu temples. The wide open courtyard, floored with white marble, is ringed by a colonade painted with giant Arabic calligraphy, and has a tank for ritual ablutions in the center.
The mosque and arcades are built of beautiful yellow sandstone and carved with the intricate detail that mosques of this period are known for. While the two principal minarets flanking the main arched entranceway collapsed in the 1819 earthquake, their lower portions still stand. The main prayer hall has over 260 columns supporting the roof, with its 15 domes, making a walk through the hall a beautiful maze of light and shadows.
The Wall of Prayer, the qibla is decorated. Pierced stone screens (the 'Jalis') are placed between the two pillars of the central openings. The main entrance is framed by two columns, the remains of two minarets (the 'Shaking Minarets
') which were destroyed by the earthquakes of 1819 and 1957. The inscription on the mihrab commemorates the inauguration of the mosque on January 4th 1424 by Sultan Ahmad Shah I. The mosque was originally intended only for private use of the sultans.