Ahmedabad or the Walled City is India’s first city to be recognized as UNESCO World Heritage City. The city has been witness to important historical events and is the site for countless historical places – from Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram to the Pols of old city, from nearby Rani ni Vav in Adalaj to the tranquil Sarkhej Roza.
As it often happens with historical cities and towns, there are some sites in the city that take away all the limelight, while some remain relatively less known. There are always some sites that one could pass by daily and still not take notice, especially if they lie in areas that are now extremely crowded and busy.
This is what I would say happens with Rani Sipri ni Masjid. Also called as Masjid-e-Nagina, Rani Sipri ni Masjid is located near the Ashtodia Darwaza, close to the Central Bus Terminal of Ahmedabad in the old city area. It stands a stone throw’s distance away from the famous Dhal ni Pol and Frnech Haveli, two of the must-visit landmarks on almost every heritage walk that happens in Ahmedabad.
Rani Sipri ni Masjid stands in silent glory, unaffected by the noisy hustle and bustle outside on the road. Vehicles often pass by without noticing the beauty that stands right next to the road, who has the time to stand and admire when there are places one has to get to. But such is Rani Sipri ni Masjid. And it definitely deserves some time and attention from you on a lovely weekend morning when you are in town.
Who is Rani Sipri ni Masjid named after?
Rani Sipri ni Masjid, as the name suggests, is named after Rani Sipri or Queen Sipri.
Who is Rani Sipri?
Rani Sipri was the Hindu queen of Sultan Mahmud Begda. The Queen had commissioned this mosque n 1514 when her husband, the Sultan had executed their son – Abu Bakr Khan for a misdemeanor. Rani Sipri had another name – Rani Sabrai. After her death, the queen was buried here. The masjid has a jenana, the separate area for women to worship in the mosque.
Who was Sultan Mahmud Begda?
Sultan Mahmud Begda or Mahmud Shah I was the most prominent Sultan of the Gujarat Sultanate. He successfully captured the forts of Pavagadh and Junagadh, which earned him the name ‘Begda’. He set up his capital at Champaner which is a popular UNESCO World Heritage site today. He is also the Sultan responsible for the destruction of the Dwarka dham.
What is special about Rani Sipri ni Masjid?
Rani Sipri ni Masjid perfectly blends together the Islamic and Hindu styles of architecture. The structure is relatively small but that does not take away from its beauty. The Masjid-e-Nagina features striking minarets with itsouth-east minaret carved in the Hindu style of architecture. There is prominent jali work characteristic of Islamic monuments and mosques of the area. There are striking floral motifs.
During this time, it is believed, craftsmen skilled in creating the Islamic style intricate carvings were not found or not available in the region. This is why if you look carefully at the carvings in the walls of the Rani Sipri ni Masjid, you would them to be inspired by Islamic style but actually being very similar to what you would find at Hindu and Jain temples in the region. Islamic carvings are a lot more intricate and poetic. But what you see at Rani ni Masjid are relatively not so intricate and more akin to the Hindu and Jain styles. Similar designs can also be found at the Sarkhej Roza which was built during the time of the same Gujarat Sultanate.
In the words of James Fergusson, the renowned Scottish architectural historian:
“Notwithstanding the smallness of its dimensions, the Rani Sipri Masjid may be considered a gem of Ahmedabad, and in its class, as one of the most exquisite buildings in the world. It is also one of the most perfectly Hindu of the buildings of this city, no arch being employed anywhere, except in one of the side doorways, either constructively or for ornament. The minarets, too, though so exquisite in design, are not minarets in reality. They have no internal stairs, and no galleries from which the call to prayer (the Azaan) could be recited. The minarets are pure ornament but of the most graceful kind. The charm of this building resides in two things – first, the completeness and unity of design, every form and every detail is designed for the place where it is put, and is appropriate to the place. And second, to the fact that all the details are beautiful in themselves, and just sufficient to relieve and accentuate the construction, without ever concealing or interfering with it. It would, of course, be absurd to compare such a building with the Parthenon, or one of our great Catholic cathedrals; but it is, architecturally, a more perfect building than the Erechtheion at Athens; and though we have some Gothic chapels of great beauty, there probably is not one that would not look coarse and plain if placed side-by-side with this mosque.“
In another source, the author (James Fergusson) also points out that –
“The minarets of the Rani Sipri Masjid are still more beautiful than those of Cairo, and every part of the Masjid-e-Nagina is such as only a Hindu Queen could order, and only Hindu artists could carve. After a century’s experience, the Muhammadans at Ahmedabad produced forms which, as architectural ornaments, will, in their own class, stand comparison with any employed in any age or in any part of the world.”
The windows of this mosque are mostly genuine Hindu or Jain style with minute details and elaborately carved brackets, very similar to what one would find in Hindu or Jain temples. And yet, there are Islamic influences in the design and architecture everywhere. This style is prominently seen in the Islamic mosques and monuments in Ahmedabad, and even in Pavagadh and Champaner to some extent. You’ll find this style easily in the fort of Bhadra, the Siddi Said ni Jaali, Rani ni Masjid at Mirzapur, Rani ni Masjid near Sarangpur Darwaza, the Shahpura Masjid etc.
What are the timings for the Rani Sipri ni Masjid?
The Rani Sipri ni Masjid is open from 6 AM to 6 PM.
When to visit Rani Sipri ni Masjid?
Ahmedabad can get very hot during the summer months. Rani Sipri ni Masjid, thus, is best during the early hours of the morning before it gets too hot, or in the evening hours. October to March would be the best season to visit.
How to reach Rani Sipri ni Masjid?
Ahmedabad is well connected to all major cities of the country and the world via its airport. Trains from major cities also go through Ahmedabad. To reach Ahmedabad you can also take a bus, and the Central Bus Terminal is only a five minute walk away from Rani Sipri ni Masjid. Within Ahmedabad, you can take a rickshaw or a BRTS public transport bus to the nearest bus stops – Geeta Mandir or Ashtodia Darwaza.
Other nearby attractions:
Other nearby attractions around the Rani Sipri Masjid include the Swaminarayan temple, Dhal ni Pol, French Haveli, Baghban Haveli, House of MG, Jhulta minarets, Panchkuva Darwaza, Bhadra Fort, Siddi Said ni Jaali, Teen Darwaza, Rani no Hajiro, Sabarmati Riverfront, Dada Hari ni Vav, etc.
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