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ARCHITECTURE IN GUJARAT
ARCHITECTURE-GUJARAT

“Architecture is the learned game, correct and magnificent,

of forms assembled in the light.”

 

Architecture or structural design is possibly the outline of human attempt, which furnishes perceptiveness into man’s perpetual efforts to achieve perfection, his endeavor to articulate himself, his surroundings, and his stance towards existence, his civilization and his visual sense. Apart from this, architecture is conceivably the only outline which mirrors the development, splendor and riches as well as the retreat, putrefy and paucity of a society, or even a sovereignty or a reign of a certain period.
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Gujarat is located at the farthest west of India opposite the Arabian Sea. The most important faith in Gujarat was Jainism and hence the majority segment of the structural designs of this place constitutes Jain temples. It was during the 11th and 13th centuries that the Hindu architecture attained its peak of brilliance as well as artistic radiance and this is manifested by a few of the supreme and most excellent samples of Gujarati designing that prospered during the Solanki as well as Vaghela period. Alas following the invasion from the Muslims, the Hindu as well as Jain temples were shattered and the resources were utilized to build mosques. A few of the notable memorials of Islamic architecture can be found in Ahmedabad in Gujarat. The icon of Islamic architecture is the Mosques in Ahmedabad.

 

The architecture style which originated in Gujarat while the Muslims ruled was indisputably the loveliest of the regional styles of Mohammedan architecture in the northern as well as western parts of India. It disagreed principally from that developed in northern India, where big and grand structures were raised by the Moguls on a gigantic and wide-ranging scale. Although Gujarat was comfortable with constructions of humble dimensions, they were noticeable by a prominent degree of excellence in their implementation and creative brilliance. The tool of inserting light and air via pierced screen as well as window tracery with venires decorated by a wealthy assortment of geometrical and flowery designs was exclusive. The passive light and assurance in the whole atmosphere, it formed, were promptly pleasant and comforting. Decoration of different parts, towers, structures, balconies and niches was excellent and unmatchable in opulence of facts and creative style. The trembling towers of Ahmedabad are even now the admirations of the world. Fortresses, castles, temples, synagogues, mansions, mosques, sepultures, creative figure of Idols on Stone entrances and step wells which subsist these days in and around Ahmedabad are the bright reminiscences of the expertise and deftness of those who did them.

 

In fact we can say that Gujarat is spotted with antique Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, and Muslim memorials. The architectural ideas postulated in these memorials mirror the grand legacy of Gujarat arts with culture. Mahmud Ghazni in 1025-26 A.D sacked the Hindu temples at Somnath and this marked the decisive moment in Gujarati structures. Ghazni’s violation and looting of Somnath worked as a catalyst and witnessed Indo-Aryan style architecture in Gujarat attain its peak. This was the period during which authentic and extensive architectural movement in Gujarat took place. Solanki Dynasty from 1000-1300 AD – One distinctive facet of this era was the expansion of ‘Toran’ and ‘Kirtistambha’ architecture.

 

The noticeable attribute of these Toran and Kirtistambha is an affluent decoration. Whilst Toran functioned as an entry, the Kirtistambha was essentially ornamental, destined to augment the exquisiteness of the overall building. Through the same era temple architecture has arose in Gujarat which is mostly founded on the fundamental thinking on Indian Shilpashastra and Vishwakarma Vastusashtras that itself is founded on ‘MANADAP’ arrangement (of a covered porch open to all slopes). It has its source in the very antique Vedic age, when non-permanent Mandaps were built for auspicious occasions, marriage ceremonies and Yagnas. With passage of time these Mandaps were prepared as palaces and shrines with gorgeous pillars, engraved roof, ceilings of delicate craftsmanship and striking Toran. The premium instance of temple structural design is the Sun Temple located at Modhera. These were a few examples of wonderful architectural memorials in the nation.

 

The Indo-Saracenic approach of structural design sprang up during the Islamic rule in Gujarat. Later on the Muslim architecture built Mosques of Honey-colored sandstone which was an unusual and cheerful blend of Muslim and Hindu styles.
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The mansolea, mosques and pavilions were the blend of the ascetic principles of Islamic design and the conventional Hindu art of carved decoration. This technique is most extraordinarily presented by the memorials of the significant city of Ahmedabad, which evolved throughout the Muslim phase in Gujarat and was indisputably the most stunning of the regional approach of Mohameden architecture in the western as well as northern India.
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The tool of inserting air and light via pierced screen as well as window decoration with panels decorated by a wealthy assortment of geometrical and flowery designs was exclusive. The passive light and assurance in the whole atmosphere, it formed, were promptly pleasant and comforting. Decoration of different parts, towers, structures, domes, balconies and niches was excellent and unmatchable in opulence of facts and creative style. The trembling towers of Ahmedabad, which form the part of Siddi Bashir Mosque, are still the admirations of the world.

 

Modern Architecture

At present Ahmedabad has a lot of buildings known as some of the best examples of contemporary architecture. It is a truth that contemporary architecture everywhere in India continues to mirror a western prejudice, whereas on the other hand it has been triumphant in foretelling the provincial expression of Indian people, their customs, values as well as philosophy. Le Corbusier, Charles Correa along with Louis Kahn, have really added towards contemporary architecture in Gujarat.
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The assorted designs by these 3 architects are evidence of the reality that they could articulate individual social and religious customs and respects via their creations. And these designs were termed as a novel aspect in contemporary architecture, as these aren’t an expression of use but of culture.

 

Modern Indian Architecture

Mr. Doshi mentioned to the requirement of constructing building of ‘interposed open spaces, courts and terraces’. Architecture was not only to dish up basic human wants but also provided the structure for communal rituals. Climatic version was to be articulated via the key structure. Buildings were supposed to be thought as collections competent of expansion and change. In addition, there were strong clues about the forms that would best articulate his ideas.

1. The building outline will encompass natural light, movement of air, and access components against the sky to put across the celestial relationship.

2. The base of the building will slowly widen near the floor via steps, platforms, terraces.

3. The building imprint will incorporate rooftop, water bodies, rainwater falls, natural scenes and gardens to hang.

4. The interminable completion of the building will express one homogeneous method yet will have sufficient aspects / compositions / surface balances.

5. The main entry to the building was placed at higher levels with plans for a subordinate entry to convey duality.

6. All the developments inside the building will not be symmetrical but will present astonishing experiences and give double/ambiguous impressions.

7. Artistic contemplations will keep in mind local imagery, contact, and acquaintanceships. Radiating shadows, rhythms in structure, emptiness, solids and banking of marks will be the means of expressions.

 

GUJARAT STYLE

First and Second Periods (1300- 1458)

Third or Begarha Period (1459- 1550)

The Gujarat style is the most important of all the provincial styles in India.

 

Two factors are responsible for the prodigious output of architecture in this region:

1. The egotism of the powerful Ahmed Shahi dynasty who wanted to surround themselves with architectural evidences of their might.

2. The supply of skilled indigenous workmen.

The Gujarat style is the most indigenous Indian style of all the provincial styles. Many structures are adaptations or extracts of local Hindu and Jain temples.

The style can be divided into three main periods:

 

First Period (First half of the 14th Century A.D.)

1. Consisted of the customary phase of demolition of temples followed by reconversion of the building materials.

2. The buildings of this period have the appearance of being formative and experimental.

3. Many buildings were built using materials from Hindu temples. Most often, the pillars would be used as they were, while the walls would be built of original masonry, sometimes using stones taken from the temples and recut to suit the requirements.

 

Second Period (First half of the 15th Century A.D.)

1. In this period, we see the art approaching an early consummation, with slightly tentative qualities.

2. There is more directional authority in the buildings and increased assurance in the design.

3. This can also be called the Ahmed Shahi period, after the Sultan Ahmed Shah.

 

Third Period (Second half of 15th Century A.D.)

1. This is the most magnificent aspect of the style.

2. Most of the development in this phase happened under Sultan Mahmud I Begarha (1458-1511).

 

Main Buildings

First Period

 

1. Jami Masjid or Adina Masjid at Patan

2. Jami Masjid at Bharuch

3. Jami Masjid at Cambay

 

JAMI MASJID AT PATAN (ADINA MASJID)

1. Part of the structure consisted of over a thousand richly decorated pillars.

2. These were torn from existing temples and rearranged in the mosque plan.

3. Most of the structure has disappeared with little more than the foundation left.

4. The number of temples that were dismantled to provide material for such mosques indicates the richness of local Hindu and Jain architecture.

 

JAMI MASJID AT BHARUCH

1. Probably dates from about the beginning of the 1300’s.

2. Largely composed of temple materials, it was planned and constructed as per mosque principles.

3. Consists of a courtyard with gateways on 3 sides and sanctuary in the west.

4. The sanctuary is of the open pillared variety i.e. without a screen of arches put across the front. It is merely an elaborated loggia or verandah.

5. All 48 pillars of the sanctuary are of bracket pattern.

6. They are arranged so as to divide the interior into 3 compartments, each corresponding to the three templemandapas from where the pillars were taken.

7. The walls surrounding the sanctuary have been constructed out of stone cut for this specific purpose and are thus the earliest example of original masonry work for this style. The stones were quarried from existing temples and recut or reconditioned.

8. There are 3 mihrabs on the interior of the western wall and a series of arched windows filled with stone tracery designed in the indigenous manner.

9. The mihrabs are copies of niches found in Hindu temples with the Islamic pointed arch introduced under the lintel.

10. The sanctuary roof consists of beams supporting  3 large domes and 10 smaller ones.

11. Square sunk coffered ceilings are decarated with cusped and other geometrical patterns as found in temple roofs.

12. Except for a certain amount of direction and supervision from Muslim overseers, the actual production is the handiwork

of local artisans who had probably never seen a mosque before.

 

JAMI MASJID AT CAMBAY

1. Built in the year 1325 A.D.

2. Judging from the appearance, it is probable that local artisans were reinforced by a group of artisans from Delhi to build this structure.

3. The sanctuary of the mosque is having an enclosed facade with a screen of arches.

4. The shape and position of the arches, the masonry consisting of alternate broad and narrow courses and the overall architectural treatment is reminiscent of the architectural style of Delhi under the Khalji dynasty.

5. The arrangement of pillars inside the archways of the facade borrows from the Ajmer type of mosque.

6. The pillars have been enriched by an engrailed arch similar to one found in temples, a motif which later figures prominently as the flying arch within the central openings of mosque facades in Gujarat.

 

Second Period

1. Jami Masjid at Ahmedabad

2. Teen Darwaza

 

JAMI MASJID AT AHMEDABAD

1. Built by Sultan Ahmed Shah in A.D. 1423.

2. Considered to be the high water mark of mosque design on western India.

3. Most of the architectural effect is concentrated in the sanctuary.

4. The flagged courtyard is 255′ X 220′

 

Sanctuary Facade:

1. The architect has combined the two types of sanctuary facades, the screen of arches and the pillared portico, with the screen in the centre and the portico on the wings.

2. The juxtaposition of the two elements creates contrast between the volume and strength of the wall surface and the depth and airy lightness of the colonnade.

3. The large central archway has large moulded buttresses of minarets on either sides, whose upper parts have now disappeared.

4. Two smaller archways are placed on either side of the central one.

5. Directly visible through the archway in the shadows is the colonnade of the interior with its engrailed arch springing lightly from its slender columns.

 

Sanctuary Interior:

1. The sanctuary is a hypostyle hall 210′ X 95′.

2. It consists of around 300 slender pillars, closely set at an average intercolumniation of 5′.

3. The columns are symmetrically arranged to form 15 bays across the long axis of the hall, each surmounted by a dome and connected to the next through a columned interspace.

4. The central compartment of the nave rises up to 3 storeys, the side aisles are 2 storeys and the rest of the hall is single storeyed.

5. The nave is composed of two pillared galleries one above the other. The enclosed triple height space which is overlooked from the galleries is  square in plan on the first floor and octagonal on the second and is covered by a dome.

6. Each overlooking balcony is provided with an asana or a sloping backed seat as seen in temples.

7. Around the exterior of the balconies are pillared verandahs or loggias and in the arcade between the pillars are stone jalis through which the galleries are illuminated.

 

TEEN DARWAZA

1. Teen Darwaza is a triumphal archway straddling the ‘King’s Way’ which connects the royal citadel and Jami Masjid in Ahmedabad constructed by Sultan Ahmed Shah.

2. It is 37′ high, 80′ wide and 45′ deep.

3. It consists of 3 archways, each of the same height, with the two side arches only marginally narrower than the central archway.

4. The contours of the pointed arches are some of the best to be found in India.

5. The parapet is skillfully arranged, being relieved by three elegant oriel windows on brackets.

6. The buttresses projecting from the piers are richly carved.

 

Third (Begarha) Period

1. Bai Hari Wav

2. Sidi Sayyid Masjid

3. Jami Masjid at Champanir

 

BAI HARI’S WAV

1. Built in A.D. 1499 at Ahmedabad.

2. Only kiosks on two ends are visible above ground, the rest of the structure being subterranean.

3. The wav is 125′ long, 18′ wide and 30′ deep.

4. The subterranean passage takes the form of a series of galleries interconnected by stairways.

5. There are three pillared storeys, with a system of supercolumniation which forms an outstanding characteristic of the main composition.

6. At each stage, the gallery is expanded into a pillared compartment. Due to the balconies around each compartment, each storey becomes a cool and quiet retreat.

7. The pillars, capitals, railings, wall surfaces, cornices and borders are exquisitely crafted.

 

SIDI SAYYID MASJID

1. The mosque was built in 1510-1515 and is the last building of the style to show any marked originality.

2. The mosque illustrates a departure from conventional mosque design in that it is composed entirely of arcades of arches.

3. 8 square piers supporting the arches form the interior of the mosque.

4. On top of the arcade is laid a flat roof. In the construction of the ceiling, the methods of bracket, diagonal beam and squinch have been used.

5. Walls are composed entirely of perforated stone screen which have given the building a worldwide reputation. One of the subjects shown in the tracery is the ‘palm-and-parasite’ motif.

 

JAMI MASJID AT CHAMPANIR

1. Built with the Jami Masjid at Ahmedabad as model except on a smaller scale and a few differences.

2. The entire structure is a rectangle of 270′ X 180′. A bit less than half the space is taken up by the sanctuary.

 

Cloisters

1. The courtyard is surrounded by a range of arched cloisters, one aisle deep.

2. An imposing entrance pavilion projects from the centre of each of the north, south and east cloisters. The eastern pavilion is a fine example of architecture in itself.

3. A series of moulded buttresses along the exterior of the qibla wall along with traceried openings at close intervals along the entire periphery makes the exterior of the mosque attractive as well.

 

Sanctuary

1. Sanctuary facade is of enclosed type containing 5 pointed archways with two slender minarets flanking the central opening.

2. The ornamentation of the minarets is restricted to their buttress like bases, with the five stages above left mostly unadorned.

3. On the whole, the frontal screen is more or less economically treated, relieved only by 3 oriel windows, one above the central arch and two on the minarets.

4. Sanctuary is a pillared hall measuring 270′ X 130′, containing 176 pillars.

5. The nave rises to 65′ in height through 3 storeys and covered by a dome.

6. From the second storey, it takes the form of a Latin cross with very short arms.

7. Each storey is accessed by a staircase in the minarets.

8.  The level of the first floor is continuous with the roof of the rest of the building, forming a wide terrace for circumambulation among the cupolas with a square well above the nave.

9.  The second floor is restricted to the Latin cross and is a large pillared gallery with an octagonal well. This floor communicates with the oriel window above the central arch in the sanctuary facade.

10. The zenana chamber is placed at the northern end of the transept.

11. Around the galleries are provided stone seats with sloping backs.

12. The Champanir mosque is based on the Ahmedabad mosque as a template, though the builders were not able to provide much of an improvement on the Ahmedabad archetype. The pillars in the Champanir sanctuary are more sophisticated than the Ahmedabad example, as may be seen in the vertical recessed chases of the shafts and other architectural details of a similar nature.

 

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