Jama Masjid is the largest mosque in India – one of the jewels being built by Emperor Shah Jahan. Situated just in front of the Red Fort in the old city of Shahjanabad, now in heart of Chandni Chowk, the Jama Masjid is not only an important mosque, but also an important monument of history.
A flight of pigeons flying in front of magnificent structure – it is a sight simply to behold. And while I look up at the tall minarets of the masjid, I am simply awe-struck at the enormity and minute detailing that went into making this structure of wonder. India surely had a great talent pool to have produced these finest and endearing structures! A visit to Delhi remains incomplete if you do not visit the Jama Masjid.
The construction of Jama Masjid was completed between 1644 and 1658 under the supervision of Saadullah Khan, the Prime Minister of Shah Jahan. It was said to be one of the last architectural wonders being built under the patronage of Emperor Shah jahan. It is said that almost 5000 craftsmen were involved in the construction of this masterpiece while it took almost Ten Lakhs Ruppes for the completion of the mosque. The spacious courtyard of Jama Masjid can hold around 25000 devotees.
The Masjd was originally called “Masjid-i-Jahan-Numa” which literally means “mosque with a commanding view of the world”. And very rightly it is called so. Jama Masjid stands at the centre of the erstwhile Mughal capital Shahjanabad. It overlooks the mighty residents of the Nawab, the Lal Qilla or the Red Fort on its eastern side. The Delhi skyline can be viewed from the courtyard of the mosque.
The mosque is built by red sandstone about 10 metre from the ground level and it covers an area of about 1200 square meter. Indeed an enormous and towering structure. The mosque has three gateways. The gateways are all flanked by the flight of stairs.
The main entrance is on the Eastern side which was probably used by the royal entourage. In addition, the mosque also has four towers and three minarets. The towers are made up of 5 storeys with each storey having a projecting balcony. The first three storeys are made of red sandstone, the fourth of marble and the fifth made of sandstone. The Mosque is covered by intricate carvings and has calligraphic verses inscribed from the holy Quran.
The main prayer hall of the Jama Masjid is simply remarkable. It is something so grand, yet so simple. The prayer hall is made up of high cusped arches and marble domes keeping with the styles of Mughal architecture of those period. The cabinet in the north gate of the Jama Masjid contains a collection of Muhammad’s relics – the Koran written on deerskin, a red beard-hair of the prophet, his sandals and his footprints, implanted in a marble block.
Jama Masjid should definitely be on your list of places to visit in Delhi. It is situated at the bustling Chawri Bazar market, one of the prominent places of Old Delhi.
How to reach: The easiest way to reach Jama Masjid is to take the Delhi metro and alight at Chawri Bazar Metro station. It is a few minutes walk from there.
Visit to the Jama Masjid can be done with Red Fort and Chandni Chowk Market. Visit the fort and the market and then head for the Paranthe wala Galli to have a sumptuous treat of paranthas (a kind of India bread).
The best time to visit Delhi is between October to March when it is winter.
Timings: 7 AM to noon and 1.30 PM to 6.00 PM. Tourists are not allowed to enter during the prayer time.
Entry fees: Free. But for photography, Rs.300 is charged.
Tip not to miss: The people outside will insist you on wearing a lungi for men and cloak for the women. But you can avoid it politely. But please dress appropriately.