Mystery of the Vibrating Minarets
The city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat, is home to an architectural marvel which continues to flummox architects the world over. While the Qutub Minar in Delhi is famous for being the world’s tallest brick minaret, little is known about Ahmedabad’s vibrating minarets built in the 15th century CE.
– The vibrating minarets have flummoxed architects the world over, for centuries
What makes the city’s Jhulta Minar truly marvellous is the fact that a mere push or tug to the topmost arches of either of the two minarets results in the swaying back and forth of the other minaret. Curiously enough, the connecting passage between the two, remains unaffected by the vibrating minarets! This phenomenon was discovered by Col. Monier Williams, the Surveyor-General of Bombay Presidency, when he visited to inspect the site after the great Kutch earthquake of 1819.
– The connecting passage between the minarets remains unaffected by the vibrations
The Jhulta Minar or swinging minarets which are around three stories tall, were a part of the Sidi Bashir Mosque which was completed in 1452 CE. There are two versions on who built this mosque. Most believe the mosque was built by Sidi Bashir, a slave of Sultan Ahmed Shah, of the Muzzafarid dynasty (ruled Gujarat from 1391-1583 CE). But there are those who claim that the mosque was actually built by Malik Sarang, a noble in the court of Mahmud Begada, another Sultan of Gujarat.
While this remains a point of contention, what is significant is the design. Some scholars suggest that the minarets of the mosque were built in such a way so as to safeguard it against earthquakes. The main building of the mosque was extensively damaged in April 1753, when the Marathas laid siege to the Ahmedabad city and bombarded it with heavy artillery, finally capturing it from the Mughal governor.
How the minarets actually vibrate without disturbing the corridor that connects them, remains a great mystery to this day. An Englishman made an attempt at demolishing one of the minarets to understand the mechanism behind it, but failed miserably. One explanation that has been given, claims that the secret lies in the way the surface of minarets are. While most minarets have plain or vertical grooves, the vibrating minarets have horizontal grooves.
The only real parallel to the ‘Jhulta Minar’ in Ahmedabad are the vibrating minarets at Isfahan in Iran from the Safavid period. The Monar Jonban, or Menar-e-Jomban, is a monument located in central Iran. Built in the 14th century these shaking minarets are said to have features similar to the minarets of Sidi Bashir Mosque in Ahmedabad.
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The Sidi Bashir Mosque is located in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The mosque is right outside the Ahemdabad railway station (only 200 m away). The closet airport is Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, Ahemdabad, about 9 kms away.