Located on a very busy street in the Lal Darwaza area of Ahmedabad, the Sidi Saiyyed Mosque is an unpretentious, small mosque that, at first glance, does not seem to offer anything extraordinary. If you look closely, though, you will notice the fine lattice windows of the mosque, which tourists from across India and abroad come to see. I have passed by this mosque several times myself, on my way here and there, but never stopped and visited it, till my last visit to the city in 2012, for sentimental reasons.
The mosque was built by Sidi Saiyyed, an Abyssinian soldier in the service of the Gujarat Sultanate, in the year 1573. Presently, it is tucked away in a small compound full of trees, a cocoon, a quiet green oasis where you can forget about the incessant honking of vehicles on the street outside. The mosque is still a working one, with many Muslims coming here to pray every day.
Sidi Saiyyed Mosque has a total of 10 windows with intricate stone latticework on them. They make for a breathtaking sight when the sunlight filters through the lattice, with the foliage of trees in the background.
Of the 10 lattice windows, the one with the ‘Tree of Life’ is the most popular (the picture below), and is known as ‘Sidi Saiyyed ni jaali‘. It is this design that has come to be recognised as symbolising Ahmedabad, what you will find on tourism brochures and websites about the city. The logo of the Indian Institute of Ahmedabad (IIM-A), one of the country’s premier management institutions, has been inspired by this particular lattice window.
The arch in the centre of the mosque has a simple stone wall, and not an intricate latticed window like the other arches (See the picture below). This is likely because the Mughals invaded Gujarat, and the construction of the mosque had to be completed in a hurry.
Tips for travellers:
1. The mosque is located in quite a well-connected area of the city. It is easily accessible through auto rickshaws and city buses.
2. Female visitors are not allowed inside the prayer hall of the mosque.
3. Dressing conservatively is recommended, when visiting the mosque premises.
4. Right opposite the mosque is the House of MG, a heritage hotel. The restaurant here dishes out some of the most delicious grub I have ever tasted – a must try!