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Sidi Bashir Mosque and Shaking Minarets in Ahmedabad

Shavi | 14th Aug 2020

Ahmedabad’s captivating blend of medieval and contemporary history is punctuated by its many remarkable attractions. Whether it’s the famed textile museum at the north of Delhi gate or the ashram that housed Gandhi himself, Ahmedabad is positively rich with culture and history.

The tourist attractions in Ahmedabad often referred to as the “Textile City” and the “Manchester of the East” are a curious mixture of ancient heritage and vibrant modernity. For this reason, many avail cheap flights to Ahmedabad to see the attractions of Ahmedabad. Ahmedabad is replete with numerous tourist attractions, ranging from quaint monuments to famous religious sites to romantic lakes to amusement parks. The city has a rare style of architecture, known as the Indo-Saracenic style architecture, which is a harmonious blending of Hindu and Islamic styles.

Book a flight to Ahmedabad and see why Ahmedabad is steeped in history and how one of the eminent tourist attractions in India, offers a host of tourist sites that present themselves as some of the most frequented tourist attractions in Ahmedabad. The glorious past of the city bearing various political and cultural facets draws huge crowds every year and so why not book a cheap ticket to Ahmedabad and explore Ahmedabad.

Among the many architectural marvels of the world, like the leaning tower of Pisa, the whispering gallery at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, or the musical pillars of South India, are the astonishing and historically shaking minarets of Ahmedabad, in Gujarat state, India. The minarets are so unique that if one minaret is shaken, the other sympathetically shakes too!

Barely a kilometre away from the Ahmedabad city railway station is the Sidi Bashir mosque (Muslim equivalent of a temple) famed for its jhulta minara or shaking minarets (tall tower-like structures, either at the entrance gate or on the four corners).

The ahmedabad city was founded by Sultan Ahmed Shah I in 1411. The mosque and its minarets were built in 1461 and are popularly called Siddi Bashir’s mosque, after a favourite slave of the Sultan. However, there is no evidence of Siddi Bashir building the minarets and it is very likely that it was built by an architect Malik Sarang, a nobleman in the court of Sultan Mahmud Shah Begada, ruler of a nearby province.

Surprisingly, when the minarets were built, there was no conscious decision made to make it shake! No one even noticed that it shook or leaned at an angle. The first person to notice that the minarets shake was a European Sanskrit scholar, Monier M Williams in the 19th century.

He climbed to the top of one of the minarets and leaned against its wall and found that the minaret started to sway slightly as did the other minaret! Terrified that the tower was going to collapse, he hurriedly got down from the see-sawing minaret!

Each minaret is three-storied tall with delicately carved stone balconies around each storey. These minarets are about 21.34 meters (70 feet) high. If either of the minarets is shaken the other too vibrates after a few seconds. The vibrations at the base of the tower multiply and get transmitted through air tunnels between the two towers.

Amazingly, the connecting passageway between the two minarets, however, remains free of any vibration!

This shaking feature was quite common in mosques of the Ahmedabad city such as the Jami-Masjid and Bibi-ki-Masjid, too. The mosque at Raj Bibi once had a pair of shaking minarets. This excited the curiosity of the British, who were then ruling India. So they dismantled one minaret to study the secret of its construction and the mystery behind the swinging effect, but sadly the minaret could not be put together again.

However, there is a lot of disagreement over what causes this vibration and only research can throw light on the architectural marvel.

Some say that it is a protection against earthquake damage. But no one has verified this theory. Others like The Archaeological Survey of India say that this medieval engineering feat could possibly be attributed to the use of ‘flexible sandstone’ (a construction material) in the foundation.

There is no proof supporting these theories. The only thing known is that the minarets were not built with the plan that they would be shaken. This occurred over a period of time.

India is one of two countries that boast of this phenomenon. At Isfahan, in Iran, is Menarjonban a historical building located in a village called Karlatan. Here too the minarets sway slightly when leaned upon.

The Sidi Bashir Mosque Ahmedabad is one of the most interesting and unconventional mosques of Ahmedabad- an architectural wonder and is a must-see after your flight to Ahmedabad.

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