Facing west, the spectacular Jama Masjid is the most elaborate and largest mosque in India. The mosque was built opposite the renowned Red Fort between 1650 and 1656, and the foundation stone was laid by the great Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. The Jama Masjid, earlier known as 'Masjid-I-Jahanuma' reflects excellent Mughal architecture in its white marble and red sandstone work. The mosque comprises of three massive gateways, four artistically built towers and two lovely minarets that make it one of the most beautiful mosques in India.
Background And Architeture
The mosque was completed in the year 1656, with a cost of around 10 crores. This magnificent and peaceful place of worship was originally named Masjid-I-Jahanuma, which literally means 'a place of worship that commands a view of the entire world'. Ustad Khalil, a great sculptor of Shah Jahan's time, designed this mosque. The architectural pattern of the mosque is said to be influenced by that of Moti Masjid in Agra. Apart from three gateways, four towers and two minarets, the masjid has a main platform (a sort of pulpit) carved out of a single block of marble. The two minarets, one on each side of the Jama Masjid, are about 130 feet high and are the identity of the mosque.
The major features of the Jama Masjid are the following - the hair of Prophet Mohammad, his foot-prints and the Holy Quran inside the mosque. More than 5000 artisans and workers were employed to complete this majestic building in a time period of more than six years. The grand Jama Masjid can accommodate about 25,000 devotees at a time. The four towers on four sides are five-storied structures that are known for calligraphic stone inscriptions and beautiful carvings.
Jama Masjid can be entered from both the north and the south gates. There is one more gateway on the eastern side, which used to remain open on Fridays, and was used by the emperor himself. The renowned Jama Masjid is a perfect example of the Mughal architectural beauty with a rectangular prayer hall, measuring 60 meters by 28 meters and its 12 arches decorated with marble frame same as in the case of Domes.
The mosque welcomes people from all the religions throughout the day, except between 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm. It is is the most important place during all Muslim celebrations including Id-ul-Fitr and Id-ul-Zuha. People gather at the premises of the Jama Masjid to offer prayers.