The Jama Masjid, the
Friday congregational mosque, in Delhi is the largest and
glorious mosque in India. It was the last architectural
extravaganza of the Mughal Emperor, Shahjahan built in the year
1656 AD with the help of 5,000 craftsmen. It was made across the
road from the Red Fort. The mosque is also known as
Masjid-I-Jahanuma, which means 'mosque commanding view of the
world'. The measurement of the mosque is 65 m X 35 m while the
courtyard is forms an area of 100 n square. The mosque has the
capacity to hold as many as 25,000 devotees. The Lal Qila or the
Red Fort stand towards the east of the mosque.
The Jama Masjid was designed as the main mosque of Shahjahan. It
stands on one of the two hills, Bho Jhala in the Mughal capital,
Shahjahanabad. The mosque has three gateways, four towers and two
minarets. It is constructed with alternate use of vertical strips
of red sandstone and white marble. The white marble has been used
extensively in the three domes and has been inlaid with stripes
of black. The structure was situated on a high platform so that
its magnificent facade would be visible from all the neighboring
areas. The main prayer hall on the west is decorated by a series
of high cusped arches, which stand on 260 pillars. These pillars
support 15 marble domes at various elevations. The imposing
gateways are approached through a broad flight of steps in the
north and the south. The hallmarks of this famous mosque are the
wide staircases and arched gateways.
The tower is made up of five distinguished storeys, each
pronounced by a protruding balcony. Beautiful calligraphy
embellishes its adjacent buildings. The first three storeys of
the tower are made of red sandstone, the fourth one, while the
fifth is again of sandstone.
The closet in the North gate of the mosque contains a collection
of Muhammad's relics - the Quran written on deerskin, a red
beard-hair of the prophet, his sandals and his footprint,
embedded in a marble slab, all of which are still preserved.
The premises of the south minaret are 1076 sq ft wide where the
people assemble for the namaaz. The cost for building the mosque
was approximately Rupees 10 crores. It was the replica of the
Moti Masjid at Red Fort in Agra. It is said that the walls of the
mosque were tilted at a certain angle so that at the time of an
earthquake, the walls do not collapse in the courtyard but
outwards. The Jama Masjid combines the best of he Hindu and
Islamic styles of architecture.
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 5.