About half a kilometre away from the red fort lies another majestic monument built in the Shahajahan era. If I am not wrong, it is a part of Shahajahanabad city designed by him. The friday mosque was built between 1650-56 and well it costed just about ten lac Rupees in the 17th century… In a comprehensive book on Delhi published by ASI and written by Urmila Varma, I found a rustic old image of the masjid.
Three shapely domes and tall tapering minarets almost 40 meter tall with strips of red sandstone and white marble. The badshahi mosque built by Shahjahan’s son Aurangzeb in Lahore is quite similar in plan.
Well let’s come back to India … the prayer hall of the Jama masjid is about 61m x 27.5m and it has 11 beautiful arches. The central arch is tall and ornate. It has been built on a high platform and one enters the area through one of the two stories gets. Well I entered from the gate facing east, which is meant for the emperor.
The mosque was inaugurated by the imam of Bukhara which is in Uzbekistan today. The courtyard is about 100sq metre in area and it is said that about 25000 people can pray at a time in the area. There are pillared corridors and domed pavilions around the courtyard. After climbing 130 steps and paying a small or not so small fee of Rs 200/- one can get a view from the top of the minarets.
The original name of the mosque was Masjid-i-Jehan-Numa which means, a mosque with commanding view of the world … well it certainly offers commanding view of Old Delhi. In many web posts it is claimed that this is the biggest masjid in India. Which is not true. The biggest mosque in India is Taj-Ul-Masjid in Bhopal… that photo story some other day.