The great mosque of Old Delhi, said to be the largest in India, has a courtyard capable of holding 25,000 worshipers. Construction on the mosque was begun in 1644 by Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who also built the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort; it was to be his last big architectural project.
The mosque adjoins the market area of Chawri Bazar. It rests atop a small hill has three entry gates, four towers, and two 40 m-high minarets (one of which you can climb for a small fee). The mosque faces west, towards Mecca. It is constructed of strips of red sandstone and white marble, and more than 5000 artisans worked on it. The roof of the mosque is capped with three marble domes with alternating striping in black and white marble. The mosque houses the main prayer hall with seven arched entrances facing the west. It was built at a cost of a 1 million rupees — a monumental sum for the time.
The mosque is said to house several relics of religious significance including an old transcript of the Quran printed on deer skin, and the footmarks, sandals, and a red beard-hair of the Prophet Mohammad.
I spent about an hour and a half exploring the mosque and taking photos (for which there is a fee, but worth it). It is a beautiful and memorable structure.
The hauz, in the center of the courtyard, is constructed for washing hands, face and feet before entering the main building for prayer.
If you visit:
Open: All days of the week
Timings: 7am to Noon,
1.30pm to 6.30pm.
(Tourists not allowed during prayer hours)
Entry Fee: Free
Photography: Fee of about 300 ruppees
You will need to enter in stocking or bare feet Shoes need to be left outside the mosque. While you can just leave your shoes, it’s a good idea to pay someone to watch them or they likely won’t be there when you return. Women will need to cover up and robes are available to that end.
A stop well worth your time when visiting Delhi.
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)