The Masjid-i-Jahan Numa مسجد جھان نمہ, commonly known as Jama Masjid of Delhi is the principal mosque of Old Delhi in India. The splendid mosque built by Shahjahan in 1656 in the typical Mughal style with two minarets and three domes, lies to the west of the Hussainabad Imambara and is entirely free from pseudo Italian art then in vogue in Lucknow. Masjid-i-Jahan Numa means "the mosque commanding a view of the world", and the name Jama Masjid is a reference to the weekly congregation observed on Friday (the yaum al-jum`a) at the mosque. The courtyard of the mosque can hold up to twenty-five thousand worshippers. The mosque also houses several relics in a closet in the north gate, including a copy of the Qur'an written on deer skin. The cost incurred on the construction in those times was 10 lakh (1 million) Rupees.Though Shah Jahan has the credit of building a number of mosques in Delhi, Agra, Ajmer and Lahore, the Jama Masjid is by far the best and an outstanding symbol of Mughal architectural brilliance in India.
It is the country's largest mosque, where thousands of Muslims offer prayers. It lies opposite the Red Fort and is surrounded by a large number of shops, which deal in a variety of goods. The great mosque of Old Delhi is both the largest in India and the final architectural extravagance of Shah Jahan with a courtyard capable of holding 25,000 devotees.
History and Architecture
Jama Masjid is the largest mosque in India and stands across the road from the Red Fort, built in 1656 by Shahjahan. Its majesty is further enhanced because of the high ground that he selected for building this mosque. The courtyard of the mosque can be reached from the east, north and south by three flights of steps, all built of red sandstone. The northern gate of the mosque has 39 steps. The southern side of the mosque has 33 steps. The eastern gate of the mosque was the royal entrance and it has 35 steps. These steps used to house food stalls, shops and street entertainers. In the evening, the eastern side of the mosque used to be converted into a bazaar for poultry and birds in general. Prior to the 1857 War of Indian Independence, there was a madrassah near the southern side of the mosque, which was pulled down after the mutiny.
The mosque faces west. Its three sides are covered with open arched colonnades, each having a lofty tower-like gateway in the centre. The mosque is about 261 feet (80 m) long and 90 feet (27 m) wide, and its roof is covered with three domes with alternate stripes of black and white marble, with its topmost parts covered with gold. Two lofty minarets, 130 feet (40 m) high, and containing 130 steps, longitudinally striped with white marble and red sandstone, flank the domes on either side. The minarets are divided by three projecting galleries and are surmounted by open twelve-sided domed pavilions. On the back of the mosque, there are four small minarets crowned like those in the front.
The vast paved courtyard is a rectangle nearly seventy-five metres by sixty-six metres. The whole of the western chamber is a big hall, standing on 260 pillars all carved from Hindu and Jain traditions. The central courtyard is accessible from the East, though there are three ways on the other side too. The Eastern side entrance leads to another enclosure containing the mausoleum of Sultan Ahmed Shah. Thus it is an architectural triumph.
Near the Eastern entrance stands the 'roja' or the tomb of the Sultan Ahmed Shah, which was homage to the Sultan by his son Mohammed Shah II. The tomb houses the graves of three great rulers of Gujarat - Ahmed Shah I, his son, Mohammed Shah and his grandson, Qutub-Ud-Din Ahmed Shah II. After a passage of 100 years, a nobleman by the name - Farhatul Maluk repaired the tomb, who also got the walls of the mosque engraved. Today after centuries of heat and rough weather, the Masjid stands unchallenged serving as a prayer place for numerous Muslims residing in the city. Among the most popular sights of the city of Ahmedabad is the Jama Masjid, boasting of a well-proportioned architecture. It took 13 years to complete this fine example of Indo-Saracenic architecture of the Ahmed Shahi style. A white marble paved courtyard, with a pool in the middle provides a perfect pause between the raucous streets outside, and the dignity of the main sanctuary within. Nearby the Masjid are Pols and the Teen Darwaza (The Three Gates) which were meant as the royal entrance to the Maidan Shah or Royal Square. From here the Sultans used to watch the processions from the palace to the Jama Masjid.
The main imam of this Jama Masjid is the direct descendent of the original and first Imam appointed by Emperor Shahjahan and till now there is no break in its descendency.
Location and Transport
This congregational mosque stands in the city of Delhi. It is also at the beginning of a very busy and popular street/center in Old Delhi, Chandni Chowk and lies opposite the Red Fort of Delhi. Built in yellow sandstone, it combines the best of Hindu and Muslim styles of architecture, standing on 260 pillars supporting 15 domes at varying elevations.
Tourists can either take local buses from various points within the city to reach this monument, which is located in Old Delhi, or they can hire auto-rickshaws and taxis or metro rail.
Nearest Railway Station : Old Delhi Railway Station
Nearest Metro Station : Kashmiri Gate
Nearest International Airport : Indira Gandhi International Airport
The main entrance on the eastern side was probably used by the emperors. It remains close on the weekdays. One can have the view of the Old Delhi, the Red Fort and the New Delhi from the southern minaret for a fee of Rupees 10. People of other religions are not allowed in between 12-30 and 2-00pm. One is allowed to enter the mosque bare-footed, head covered and wearing lungi, - these are the norms visitors have to follow and are available on payment. For taking photographs one has to buy tickets first.
Time to Visit : On all days from Sunrise to Sunset
Preferred Timings : Summer/ Winter: 7.00 am-12.15 pm & 1.45 pm till sunset/ 8.30 am-12.15 pm & 1.45 pm till sunset; Muslim ladies: After Fazar Prayers (after dawn) till Maghrib Prayers (between sunset and twilight), all round the year except during Ramadan (Ramzan) when they are allowed entry from Fazar Prayers to Maghrib Prayers
Admission : Free and open to all except during prayer timings. Tourists should cover their knees as well their arms and remove their shoes before entering the mosque. Cloth to be draped around your limbs or feet, is available at the entrance and is provided on request.
Photography charges : Citizen/foreigner: INR 20/ 150
Charges to climb southern Minaret : INR 10