The Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, situated in what is now popular as the ‘Old City’ area of Ahmedabad, close to the now defunct Roopalee theatre and the Lal Darwaza, is one of the most famous mosques in Ahmedabad. It was built way back in 1573. Like many old monuments of that era, a marble tablet fixed on the wall of the Mosque declares proudly, that the Mosque was built by the great Sidi Saiyyed, and hence the name. Sidi Saiyyed was an Abyssian in the retinue of Bilal Jhahar Khan, who was a general in the army of the last Sultan – Shams-Ud-Din Muzzafar Shah III of the Gujarat Sultanate.
Sidi Saiyyed had come to Gujarat from Yemen, and later served Sultan Nasir-ud-Dun Mahmud III. He was known as the nobleman who helped the poor and had a large collection of books.
The Mosque was built in the very last year of the reign of the Sultanate. The mosque is entirely arcuated and more famous than the Mosque itself, are the ten stone latticework windows, better known as Jalis on side and the rear arches. The rear wall is filled with square stone pierced panels in geometric designs. The two bays flanking the central aisle have reticulated stone slabs carved in designs of intertwined trees and foliage and a palm motif. This intricately carved lattice stone window is the Sidi Saiyyed Jali, the unofficial symbol of city of Ahmedabad and the inspiration for the design of the logo of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad.
The central window arch of the mosque, where one would expect to see another intricate jali, is instead walled with stone. This is possibly because the mosque was not completed according to plan before the Mughals invaded Gujarat.
The Mosque is built in yellow sandstone, one of the most popular stones for construction in that era; in a very Ind-Islamic style of architecture. The front of the mosque has two minarets on the sides (the minarets have fallen now but the base still exists), while the back wall is where all the jalis are. There is a small wazu (ablution) pond too.
The Mosque has a total of eight arched windows, which are adorned by the stone carved intricate jalis. It is believed that a total of 45 craftsmen worked on these night and day, to finish their construction on time. However, just when it was close to getting completed, Ahmedabad fell to the Mughal invasion, and the last window in the centre of the back wall was left without a jali.