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Jama Masjid

[ Edit ] Overview

Situated 500 meters away from the Red Fort, Jama Masjid is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Delhi.  Built on top of a small hill, this beautiful mosque was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. The original name of the mosque is Masjid-i- Jahan-Numa which means “the Mosque Commanding a View of the World". However it became to be popularly known as Jama Masjid given its use for Friday prayers.

Jama Masjid was completed in 1656, houses several relics going back to the time of the Prophet Muhammed, and is generally considered a masterpiece of mughal style of architecture. The distinctive look and beauty of the Jama Masjid is a product of a tasteful combination of red sandstone with white marble and black marble decorations and stripes.

Jama Masjid, the largest in India, can accommodate 25,000 people for prayers (namaaz).

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Visitor Quick Facts

[ Edit ] Famous For

Jama Masjid New Delhi is famous for:

  • Being the largest mosque in India.
  • Being built by Emperor Shah Jahan who was also the inspiration behind the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort.

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[ Edit ] Location

Old Delhi (Chandni Chowk), India

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[ Edit ] Best Time To Visit

For tourists, the best time to visit Jama Masjid New Delhi are from February to April and again from September to November.  When the weather ranges between 20°C to 30°C.  From April to October, temperatures over 40°C is common.  Monsoon hits the city in July and August. In winter, temperatures can drop to near 0°C and the city is often blanketed with thick fog leading to frequent flight delay / cancellations.

Timing your visit to coincide with Muslim festivals such as Bakri-Id and Id ul Fitr are ideal.

That said, regardless of which season you visit the city. Jama Masjid would rank as one of the top places to visit in New Delhi.

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[ Edit ] Days of Operation

As a religious institution, Jama Masjid is open daily.

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[ Edit ] Hours of Operation

What are the opening hours of Jama Masjid?

  • Jama Masjid is open from sunrise to sunset. 
  • It is closed to non-muslims during namaaz (prayer) times.
  • Entry for women is closed after 6 p.m.

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[ Edit ] Entry Charges & Fees

Entry charges and Fees for Jama Masjid New Delhi:

There are no general entry charges for the Jama Masjid.  However there are charges for cameras and for climbing up to the top of the minaret.

  • Indians: N/A
  • Foreigners: N/A
  • Camera:  Rs. 100
  • Video Camera: Rs. 100
  • Minaret Climbing Fees:  Rs. 25

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Historical Quick Facts

[ Edit ] Type

Religious / Heritage / Architectural

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[ Edit ] Architecture

Mughal style architecture - a blend of Hindu and Persian styles.

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[ Edit ] Construction Period

1650 - 1650 AD

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[ Edit ] Built By

Jama Masjid was build by Emperor Shah Jahan who also is famous for building the Taj Mahal in Agra.

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[ Edit ] History

History of Jama Masjid New Delhi

Emporer Shah Jahan, son of Emperor Jahangir, and grandson of Emperor Akbar, ascended the throne in 1628 as a 35 year old Prince.  He was a great patron of architecture and with him came the golden era of building and architecture during the Mughal empire.   Shah Jahan's contribution to art and architecture goes much beyond the Taj Mahal – a monument that he is most remembered for. During his thirty-year reign, he was responsible for the construction of several glorious buildings that stand testimony to his architectural vision including the Jama Masjid (Delhi), Red Fort (Delhi), Agra Fort (large sections of the fort), and Jahangir Mausoleum (Lahore Pakistan).

Shah Jahan moved the seat of Mughal empire from Agra to Delhi and laid the foundation of Shahjahanabad (currently Old Delhi) between 1638 and 1648.   The Red Fort and the Jama Masjid have became the focal points of his contributions to Delhi history.

Many artisans, sculptors, lithographers, calligraphers and engineers have contributed their skills and talents for the creation of the Jama Masjid New Delhi while the material and stones were donated by many a noblemen.  It is estimated that 5,000 workers took six years to build the mosque and it was completed in 1656 AD. 

The inauguration was held on July 23, 1656. On completion Shah Jahan led a procession from Naggar Khana near Red fort, passing through Delhi Gate to Jama Masjid. The entire route was flanked by rows of elephants with gold and silver ornamentations and decorated horses, camels and musketeers were also included in the parade. The entire area was beautified with chandeliers, prayer carpets and tapestries. 

With great pomp and splendour Emperor Shah Jahan entered the Jama Masjid through the Royal gate on the eastern side – only opened for Royalty and other dignitaries. The Emperor then held the prayers led by Imam Bukhari who presented the Emperor with a robe of honour and other valuables.  Imam Bukhari came to Delhi, at the request of Shah Jahan, from Bukhara (present day Uzbekistan) specially to inaugurate the Jama Masjid.  The Emperor conferred upon him the title of Imam-ul-Sultan or Shahi Imam

The architect of Jama Masjid New Delhi was Fazil Mur Saman, the construction was supervised by Sadullah Khan, the Prime Minister under Shah Jahan.

Cost to build Jama Masjid New Delhi:  It is estimated that the Jama Masjid was constructed at a total cost of Rs. 1 million (~$20,000) in those days.

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[ Edit ] Myths or Facts

Facts and information regarding Jama Masjid New Delhi:

  • It is believed that on the day the foundation stone of the Jama Masjid mosque was laid, people from all across Delhi assembled here.  Shah Jahan, in an attempt to share the honor of the occasion, offered anyone who had never missed a single midnight prayer the honour of laying the stone. No one stepped forward and thus Shah Jahan himself laid the foundation stone.
  • The Head Imam of Jama Masjid is the direct descendent of the first Imam (Imam Buhkari) appointed by Emperor Shahjahan.  This has been a tradition for almost 400 years and there hasn't been a break in its descendency of the family.
  • The Jama Masjid was built at a price of only $20,000 in those days.  Of course, that would be an infinitely greater amount of money in today's value. 
  • It is possible to climb up the minarets at Jama Masjid.  The views of Old Delhi as well as the arial vista of the beautiful onion domes of Jama Masjid are worth the effort of the climb.

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[ Edit ] Architecture And Structural Description

Architecture of Jama Masjid New Delhi;

The Jama Masjid was the main mosque of Shah Jahan and a quintessential example of architecture built during the Mughal period, with a perfect blend of Hindu and Mughal style of architecture.

The Jama Masjid is built on a rocky elevation, on a hillock called Bho Jhala. The Masjid constructed in sandstone and white marble has a measurement of 65 m x 35 m. It has 3 gates, two minarets which are about forty meter in height (about 130 feet) and four towers.

The gateways - Southern, Northern and Eastern are huge and on a raised platform with broad steps leading up to it. The steps are all made of red sandstone. The Northern gate has 39 steps, the Southern gate has 33 steps leading to it and the Eastern gate has 35 steps leading to it. The Eastern Gate is also referred to as the Royal gate as it was used by the Mughal Emperor himself. This gateway remains open only on Fridays.

Beyond the entrance of the Jama Masjid is the vast courtyard measuring nearly 100 msq and is flanked by pillared corridors which run along the courtyard and have a domed pavilion in the middle and on either sides. The three magnificent domes are richly ornamented and have black and white marble stripes. In the centre of the courtyard is a tank and a Hauz which is built for the purpose of Wazu, a compulsory cleansing ritual followed by all Muslims before namaaz.

The main Prayer hall of the Jama Masjid is on the west and measures 61 m x 27.5 m and is a marvel in itself. It is adorned with 12 cusped arches which stand on 260 pillars and about 15 marble domes at various elevations which are supported by these pillars The hall has a magnificent façade of 11 arches, with the central arch slightly higher than the others and serving as an entrance to the hall.

The distinctive minarets of the Jama Masjid are made of red sandstone and white marbled bearing stripes of black colour. The premises of the southern minaret is 1076 sq feet wide and people assemble here for namaaz.

The tower is made of five distinguished storey and each is pronounced by a protruding balcony. The first three storey’s and the fifth storey are made of red sandstone. Beautiful calligraphy also embellishes the adjacent buildings.

It is believed that the walls of the Jama Masjid are tilted at certain angles so that at the time of an earthquake, walls collapse outwards, instead of collapsing in the courtyrad, thus avoiding too many casualties and injuries

The Jama Masjid is so big that the muatllawi (2nd cleric) can stand on the Dikka- a raised platform and repeat the “ayats” said by the Imam to the devotees who are unable to hear him.

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[ Edit ] Things To See

Things to see at Jama Masjid New Delhi:

  • The walls of the Jama Masjid has inscriptions at many a places which explain the history of this magnificient structure, like the cost of buiding the mosque, the name of the architect etc.
  • The closet in the northern gate of the Jama Masjid contains a collectiuon of Prophet Muhammed’s relics - Quran written on deerskin, a red beard hair of the Prophet, his sandals and his footprint embedded in a marble slab, all which are still preserved carefully.
  • The Southern minaret of the Jama Masjid can be climbed by visitors.  From the top, one can view the Old Delhi, Red Fort and parts of New Delhi.  A charge of Rs.5/- to see form this particular spot.

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[ Edit ] Nearby Attractions

Jama Masjid's location in New Delhi provides access to significant other attractions including several UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The attractions include:

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[ Edit ] Other Information

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Don't miss climbing up the minaret at Jama Masjid

It seems most people are not aware of, or don't bother to invest the time, in climbing up the minaret at Jama Masjid. While the climb is a bit claustrophobic, and you do end up rubbing yourself against people who are climbing down / up in the opposite direction :-) in a narrow stairway, the effort is well worth it. You get a unique perspective on Jama Masjid and get to appreciate the beautiful onion shaped domes.

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More... Related Photos

Fount of Ablution, Mosque Jama Masjid, Delhi, India;   Stereo-Travel Co.  Year: 1908
Devout Mohammedans prostrate at Prayer time - Court of Jama Masjid India\'s greatest Mosque, Delhi    Stereo-Travel Co.   Year: 1903

Jama Masjid, New Delhi

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