“It is a quiet Spring evening in and around the new city of Shahjahanabad. The sun has begun setting in Delhi’s sky. The Emperor stands in front of the great mosque that he has built; an addition to all the beautiful monuments that have made his name known far and wide. The people gather in through the gates for the Maghrib as he marvels at the minarets which seem to reach the heavens. This bright, majestic presence of red and white is going to stand on this very spot, forever. A part of his empire, of the nation that he is building and provide his people a place to pray in union. A place where heaven will meet the earth.With its imposing structure, tall minarets, and sprawling courtyard, the Masjid-i Jehan Numa (translated: world-displaying mosque) is one of the most beautiful mosques in India. More popularly known as the Jama Masjid, this monument is an architectural marvel from the Mughal era. From the pages of our history textbooks, we have come to know about Emperor Shah Jahan and his love for building breathtaking monuments. As a spectator to four centuries of history, this mosque has become an important tourist spot and a center of cultural heritage in India.
The Origin and History
Constructed between 1650-56, the name Jama Masjid means Friday Mosque in Arabic. Built on Shah Jahan’s distinct Indo-Islamic style, it took a crew of 50,000 workers, working under the supervision of the Wazir (the prime minister) Saadullah Khan to be completed. The principal material used was red sandstone, along with marble.Jama Masjid is aligned towards the holy city of Mecca – the most important pilgrimage site of Islam. The Emperor had the intention of including the Red Fort and this mosque to relocate his capital to the newly formed city of Shahjahanabad, which, however, was not carried out.One of the most important features of this monument is its grand size. The open courtyard on the eastern gateway is spread out close to 99 square meters. The main structure has three domes rising from the three roofs of the mosque with one huge entrance. The facade of this entrance is decorated with lavish inscriptions of Persian calligraphy that creates a tapestry on the top. The minarets on each side of the terrace are 130 feet in height. The interior prayer hall has dimensions of 90×200 feet which makes it one of the largest prayer halls in India.
Directions and Visitor Details
The Jama Masjid is one of the most important and one of the busiest tourist spots of Delhi. This grand mosque of Old Delhi stands at walking distance from the Old Delhi Railway Station and ISBT Kashmere Gate. When it comes to transport, the nearest metro station is Chawri Bazar and some buses connect the Jama Masjid to parts of the city. Besides this, autos and taxis are available.
- The timings are 7 AM to 12 Noon and 1:30 PM to 6:30 PM
- There are no tourists allowed during prayer hours – 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM
- The Eastern gate is closed on weekdays, but the northern and southern entrances are accessible at all times
- There is no entry fee for tourists but an additional amount is charged for photography
Reminders: The dos and don’ts
Before one pays a visit to this beautiful monument, one should remember that the Jama Masjid is primarily a place of worship. The sanctity of a distinct religion and culture should always be respected. There should be silence in and around the place, particularly in the prayer hall.The dress code should be maintained upon visits. One should be barefoot and have their head, legs, and shoulders covered. There are robes available for rental at the northern entrance of the mosque.
The Scene Today
Until the end of the Mughal era, it remained a royal mosque. Now, it is the principal mosque for Delhi’s Muslim community. Numerous people gather every Friday to offer their prayers and it is here that the festival of Eid al-Fitr is communally celebrated. The courtyard has a capacity of 25,000 people and the daily Namaz resounds from every corner of the complex throughout the day.There are many majestic things to look out for when one finds themselves in Delhi. The monuments from the time of the Mughals are the first to make it to the list. Their extravagance and architectural style can take away the breath of any person who stands in front of the huge gates of a Mughal palace.On a side note, if one has a fascination for local cuisine, Old Delhi’s streets are the place to be.
Many local food shops around the Jama Masjid complex let the tourists have the perfect local experience and indulge in a little bit of history along with it. Our recommendation would be to try the Mutton Briyani.
Author: Sarasi Ganguly | Cover Artwork by Sarthak Grover | Trip credits & Photography by Shraddha Gupta