Jama Masjid in Delhi was constructed by Shah Jahan in the period 1950-56. It is one of the oldest and second-largest Mosques in India. It is in the Shahjahanabad or old Delhi area near the Red Fort where Muslims gather for communal prayers on Fridays. This mosque is also named as Masjid-i-Jahan-Numa which means ‘world displaying mosque’. It is made of white marble stone and red sandstone.
History & Architecture of Jama Masjid
It is west facing, towards the holy city of Mecca. The open courtyard towards the east-facing gateway can accommodate 25000 people for namaz. There are two 40-meter minarets in the northeast and the southeast corners of the building. The prayer hall inside the building is around 27.4 x 60.96 meters. The eastern gateway was exclusive for royals while the gates at the north and south were used by other visitors. There are three large domes above the prayer room and Persian calligraphy above the entrances.
About 5000 workers were used to construct the mosque as per the design of architect Ustad Khalil. It was supervised by wazir or prime minister Sadullah Khan and comptroller Fazil Khan. The total expense incurred in the construction of the mosque was around Ten lakh or 1 million rupees. Syed Abdul Ghafoor Shah Bukhari, from Bukhara, Uzbekistan was invited by Shah Jahan as Shahi Imam who inaugurated the mosque on 23 July 1656. This mosque has political significance and was used by the emperors during the Mughal period. This was an important place for social interactions or gathering for the people of Shahjahanabad.
In the year 1803 Shahjahanabad was taken under British rule and the Mughal emperor remained the ritual head of the mosque. The Jama Masjid was well-maintained by the British and it continued to be an important center for social and political interactions until the revolt of 1857. This revolt resulted in the killing of many British people and ended the Mughal empire. Because of the incident, the British banned a lot of Mosques including Jama Masjid. They started using them as Barracks for European and Sikh soldiers. Eventually, the masjid came under the control of Muslims in the year 1862 and was maintained as a strictly religious site. The Mosque received donations from Nawab of Rampur in 1886 and Nizam of Hyderabad in 1926 for maintenance.
Again, the unrest continued from 1911 against British rule in Delhi and Jama Masjid was used for political and non-religious activities. While the British tried to control the political activities, communal gatherings continued. After independence also Jama Masjid was seen as a political center. After independence also Jama Masjid was seen as a political center. A lot of political activities continued after independence and during the partition. Due to unrest later in 1987, it was closed by the then Imam of Jama Masjid.
At present Jama Masjid is one of the main Mosques in Delhi holding a traditional value for the Muslim community. It is also a tourist attraction for its impressive architecture. Jama Masjid turns festive during Eid. Iftar meals are arranged for visitors in the mosque and different kinds of delicacies on the streets of Chandni chowk make it vibrant. Prayers are held between 4:30 to 5:30 pm. There are many eating joints around to enjoy in the area which is famous for their special food and beverages.
When Jama Masjid was built, it was the largest mosque in India. It holds historical and architectural value to date and is one of the important landmarks in Delhi. Apart from the arches and domes, there are beautiful designs and motifs on the walls. There are minimal rules for tourists or visitors regarding dressing and restricted entry during prayers. Although there were multiple terrorist attacks, it was renovated many times and efforts continue to restore and revive the monument in its full glory. It is close to Red fort, Chawri Bazar, and the metro station. It is easy to reach this place for the facility of multiple transportations like taxis, buses, autorickshaws, and metro rail.