Monday, July 15, 2024

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Jama Masjid (The Friday Mosque)




Old Delhi, Delhi



India's largest mosque

Best Season



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Masjid-i-Jahan Numa or Jama Masjid situated in the ancient town of Old Delhi, 1 km west of  Red Fort is one of the grand architectural examples of the Mughal era. The mosque is India's largest mosque and the last architectural work of the Mughal Emperor Shajahan which is much simpler than his other secular buildings.

Built between 1644 and 1658 AD, the mosque has three gateways, four angle towers and two minarets standing 40 m high. 5,000 laborers were employed for six years to complete its work in 1656.  Designed by Ustad Khalil, the great sculptor of his time, it was built at the cost of 10 lakh (1 million) Rupees. Commonly called as Friday Mosque (as 'Jama' means Friday, which is the holy day of the Muslims) the mosque is made of red sandstone and marble.  

Gateways - These steps leads to the courtyard of the mosque. The steps that leads to the eastern gateway has 35 steps, to the northern gateway has 39 steps and to the southern gateway has 33 steps which are made of red sandstone. Out of the three gateways the eastern gateway was used by emperors to enter the mosque and this gateway remains closed during the weekdays. Today, the worshippers enter through this gateway and on the occasion of the two annual Id festivals to mark the end of Ramadan - Id-ul-fitr and Id-ul-Adha. There is also a fine view of the Red Fort from the eastern gateway. The closet in the North gate of the mosque contains a collection of Muhammad's relics - a copy of the Quran written on deer skin., a red beard-hair of the prophet, his sandals and foot prints installed in marble. The general public enter by either this gateway or sought gate. Shoes should be removed.  Shops, food stalls and street entertainers used to occupy these steps. 

Courtyard - The mosque is surrounded a red stone square courtyard which can be reached from three gateways. The courtyard of the mosque can hold 25,000 worshippers and occupies 408 square feet. In the center of the courtyard has a large marble tank for devotees to cleansing before they offering prayers in the mosque. Usually the courtyard is crowded with tourists and birds.  In front of it is a raised platform called Dikka. 

The mosque which faces west is about 261 feet (80 m) long and 90 feet (27 m) wide and has three huge gateways, four towers and two minarets. To get a good visibility for its magnificent facade from the nearby areas, the mosque is constructed on a high platform about five feet with alternate use of vertical strips of red sandstone and white marble. The prayer hall in the mosque can be reached through 10 arched gates and one large central entrance gate. There are steep steps upto this mosque. The floor of the mosque is ornamented with white and black marble. A thin black marble border of  3 feet long 1 1/2 feet width is marked for the worshippers and there such  899 spaces marked in the floor of the mosque. The floor is adorned with Persian style carpets for the worshippers. 

Minarets - Inside is the courtyard dominated by two red and white striped sandstone minarets of about  130 feet (40 m) high containing 130 steps which cap the main prayer hall on the west side (facing Mecca). The minarets are divided by three projecting galleries and flank the domes on either side. On the back of the mosque, there are four small minarets those in the front. Guests were allowed to climb the 130 stone steps. These are worth visiting at the top, where one can see the birdís eye view of the Old Delhi and also watching devout Muslims during namaz. 

Domes - The mosque is adorned by three huge onion-shaped domes made of white marble with stripes of black marble inlaid and its topmost parts covered with gold. Under the domes, there is a hall with seven arched entrances facing the west and the walls of the mosque. 

Visiting Time : Open from 7 AM to sunset. Tourists are not allowed during prayer times (12:15 and 1:45 PM) and pictures should not be taken during this time. 

Fee - Admission to the mosque is free. Rs. 20 to climb the minaret. Rs 200 rupees to take pictures or video inside the mosque.