The most important road connecting Ahmedabad with Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat, is called S G (Sarkhej Gandhinagar) Highway. Drive to the Sarkhej end, ask some of the local people to guide you and you enter what has been called the “Acropolis of Ahmedabad“, due to Le Corbusier’s famous comparison of this mosque’s design to the Acropolis of Athens.
A mosque and tomb complex, parts of which are used even now, was built in the middle of the 15th century.
We stepped into the old water tank of the complex, the size of football field with space to spare. It is possible to imagine that in the olden days this tank supplied the entire city with water. People of humble origin would bring their water cans and jars, while horse or bullock carriages could drive down the slopes to carry larger supplies of water for the more affluent and perhaps for entire neighbourhoods.
It is easy to imagine that this space was also where large-scale entertainments were presented – the gorgeous pavilions built in the two ‘stadium’ sides of the area could be filled with ladies of the upper classes in order to watch the pleasures on offer.
The tombs on one side of the ‘pavilions’ add a sombre note to the spectacular pavilions. These are still looked after, as witnessed by the coloured cloths placed on a few of them.
The living part of the roza is approached by the main entrance, and this is very definitely worth a visit. The small museum has some really beautiful Qurans on display, and prayers are offered regularly at the masjid. During my visit, I saw young parents bringing their newborn babies to be blessed at the dargah of the famous Sufi saint Shaikh Ahmed Ganj Baksh, who lived there and whose presence made Sarkhej a prominent centre of Sufi culture.
The roza is holy, playful, affectionate, joyous – all in the same breath. It calls me again and again – and certainly in one of my future trips to Ahmedabad, the call of the roza will be answered.