Delhi 101: #20 Jama Masjid – Commanding Awe from the World

He was never trained for it academically, but the fifth Mughal emperor Shahjahan has no rivals to the title of the ‘Greatest Architect Ever’ in India. Who can match a portfolio comprising the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid besides many others wonders he built?

Delhi 101: Cover image of book by Ajay JainThis post has been taken from Delhi 101, a book written by Ajay Jain. It is about 101 surprising ways to discover Delhi, one of the most amazing cities in the world for travelers. To know more about the book and to order one, click here.

The Jama Masjid is one of the grandest mosques in the world, and was rightly named the Masjid-i Jahān-Numā, which means ‘Mosque commanding the view of the world.’ In its time, it sure did command a view. It was built on the highest point in the new city of Shahjahanabad, looking down upon the Emperor’s palaces too in Red Fort. It took six years to complete it in 1656.

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You can climb up its minarets for a 360 degree view of the city around, but it is not the same any more. Pollution, modern high rise buildings, encroachment of open spaces by the ever growing population and the shifting of the river Yamuna have marred the earlier picture postcard views. But you still get a glimpse of life today, and flashes of what it had been. Women may not go up unless accompanied with at least one man. No one is allowed up during the prayer time.

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The dome, the marble work, the engravings from the holy Quran and other features will leave you spellbound. And during prayer times, especially on important festivals, tens of thousands of devotees sit in straight lines within the compound, on the steps outside and even the surrounding streets around to pray as one. The sight sure tugs at some chords, and you cannot help connecting with the powers up there controlling our fate.

Metro: Chandni Chowk or Chawri Bazaar

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