(Last Updated on : 23-01-2012)
The Jama Masjid, the Friday congregational mosque in Delhi is the largest and glorious mosque in India, which depicts a fusion of Indo-Islamic style in its architecture. This last architectural extravaganza of the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan was built in the year 1656 AD. It involved five thousand craftsmen and was made across the road from the Red Fort towards the west of 'Lal Quila'. Jama Masjid was the main mosque of Shahjahan. It measures 65 m x 35 m while the courtyard includes an area of 100 square metre. The mosque has the capacity to hold twenty five thousand devotees. Jama Masjid is also known as Masjid-I-Jahanuma meaning 'mosque commanding view of the world'.
The Jama Masjid was designed on one of the two hills of Bhojala in the Mughal capital, Shahajanabad. The mosque includes three gateways, four towers and two minarets. It is designed with vertical strips of red sandstones and white marbles. In its three domes the use of white marbles is extensive which have been inlaid with stripes of black with its topmost part covered with gold. The structure was raised on a high platform so that its magnificent façade could be seen from the neighbouring area. The main prayer hall on the west is adorned with a series of high cusped arches, which stand on 260 pillars.
These pillars also support fifteen marble domes at various elevations. The floor of the mosque is covered with white and black marble ornamented to imitate the Muslim prayer mat; a thin black marble border is marked for the worshippers, which is three feet long and 1 ½ feet wide. In total there are 899 such spaces marked in the floor of the mosque. The back of the mosque is cased over to the height of the rock on which the mosque stands with large hewn stones The magisterial gateways are approached through a broad flight of steps in the north and the south of the Mosque. The hallmarks of Jama Masjid are wide staircases and arched gateways.
The Jama 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. Two elevated minarets are 130 feet (40 m) high and longitudinally striped by red sandstone and white marbles and flank the domes on either side. The minarets are divided by three projecting galleries, which 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.
Under the domes of Jama Masjid is a hall with seven arched entrances facing the west.The walls are covered with marbles up to height of the waist. Beyond this the prayer hall is situated,which is about 61m x 27.5 m in size, with eleven arched entrances. The central arch is wide and lofty and in the form of massive gateway. The prayer hall has slim minarets in each corner, with the usual octagonal pavilion surmounting it. Over the arch entrances there are tablets of white marbles of 4 ft x 2.5 ft, which are ornamented by inscriptions in black marble. These inscriptions give the history of the building of the mosque, and glorify the reign and virtues of Shah Jahan. The slab over the centre arch contains the words 'The Guide'.
The tower of Jama mosque is made up of five distinguished stories, each of which contains a protruding balcony. Beautiful calligraphy embellishes the walls of the mosque. The first three stories as well as the fifth one are made of red sandstones while the fourth is made up of marble.
The North closet of the mosque contains a collection of Muhammad's relics-the Quran written on deerskin, a red-colored beard hair of the prophet, his sandals and his footprint, embedded in a marble slab.
The premises of the south minaret are 1076 sqft wide where the people assemble for the namaaz. The Jama Masjid is the replica of Moti Masjid at Red fort in Agra and cost for building this mosque was approximately rupees ten crores. It is said that the walls of the mosque is tilted at a certain angle so that they do not collapse in the courtyard inside but outwards during the earthquakes.
The courtyard can be reached from east, north and south by three flights of steps, all built in red sandstones. The northern gate has 39 steps, southern has 33 steps while the eastern gate has 35 steps. The emperors probably used the main entrance of the eastern side. The steps house the food stalls, shops and street entertainers.