Delhi, is the principal mosque of Old Delhi in India. Commissioned by theMughal Emperor Shah Jahan, it is the best-known mosque in India. Construction began in 1650 and was completed in 1656. It lies at the beginning of the Chawri Bazar Road, a very busy central street of Old Delhi. The later name, Jama Masjid, refers to the weekly Friday noon congregationprayers of Muslims, Jummah, which are usually done in a mosque, the “congregational mosque” or “jāma masjid”. The courtyard of the mosque can hold up to twenty-five thousand worshippers. The mosque also houses several relics in a closet in the north gate, including an antique copy of theQur’an written on deer skin.
The foundation of the historic Jama Masjid was laid on a hillock inShahjahanabad by the fifth Mughal Emperor of India, Shahjahan, on Friday, October 19, 1650 AD, (10th Shawwal 1060 AH). The mosque was the result of the efforts of over 6,000 workers, over a period of six years (1650–1656 AD).The cost of the construction in those times was 1 million (1 million) Rupees. Emperor Shahjahan also built the Taj Mahal, at Agra and the Red Fort in New Delhi, which stands opposite the Jama Masjid. The Jama Masjid was completed in 1656 AD (1066 AH), with three great gates, four towers and two 40 m-high minarets constructed of strips of red sandstone and white marble. About 25,000 people can pray here at a time. The mosque has a vast paved rectangular courtyard, which is nearly 75 m by 66 m. The whole of the western chamber is a big hall standing on 260 pillars all carved from Hindu and Jain traditions. The central courtyard is accessible from the East. The Eastern side entrance leads to another enclosure containing the mausoleum of Sultan Ahmed Shah.
Shah Jahan built several important mosques in Delhi, Agra, Ajmer andLahore. The Jama Masjid’s floorplan is very similar to the Jama Masjid, Fatehpur Sikri near Agra, but the Jama Masjid in Delhi is the bigger and more imposing of the two. Its Badshahi Mosque of Lahore built by Shah Jahan’s son Aurangzeb in 1673 is closely related to the Jama Masjid at Raipur.
This picture shows the tomb of Jama Masjid behind the grill.
The courtyard of the mosque can be reached from the east, north and south by three flights of steps, all built of red sandstone.
The northern gate of the mosque has 39 steps.
The southern side of the mosque has 33 steps.
The eastern gate of the mosque was the rural entrance and it has 35 steps.
These steps used to house food stalls, shops and street entertainers.
In the morning the eastern side of the mosque used to be converted into abazaar for poultry and birds in general.
The mosque faces west. Its three sides are covered with open arched colonnades, each having a lofty tower-like gateway in the center.
The mosque is about 261 feet (80m) long and 90 feet (27m) wide, and its roof is covered with three domes with alternate stripes of black and white marble, with its topmost parts covered with gold.
Two lofty minarets, 130 feet (41 m) high, and containing 130 steps, longitudinally striped with white marble and red sandstone, flank the domes on either side.
The minarets are divided by three projecting galleries and are surmounted by open twelve-sided domed pavilions.
Under the domes of the mosque, is a hall with seven arched entrances facing the west and the walls of the mosque, up to the height of the waist, are covered with marble.
Beyond this is a prayer hall, which is about 61 meters X 27.5 meters, with eleven arched entrances, of which the centre arch is wide and lofty, and in the form of a massive gateway, with slim minarets in each corner, with the usual octagonal pavilion surmounting it.
Over these arched entrances there are tablets of white marble, four feet (1.2 m) long and 2.5 feet (760 mm) wide, inlaid with inscriptions in black marble.
The mosque stands on a platform of about five feet (1.5 m) from the pavement of the terrace, and three flight of steps lead to the interior of the mosque from the east, north, and the south.
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.
On 14 April 2006, there were two explosions within the Jama Masjid. The first explosion came at around 17:26 (5:26) and the second about seven minutes later, at around 17:33 (5:33) (IST). At least thirteen people were injured in the blasts. There were about 1000 people in the mosque at the time of the blasts since it was Friday, the Muslim holy day. According to official spokesmen, there was no damage to the mosque itself.