Get ready to be transported back in time to what used to be the happening centre of the Mughal Empire in the 16th century.
The 39 steps of the Northern Gate
Shah Jahan’s final architectural masterpiece, the Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque) was our introduction to Delhi. Located in the chockfull part of town, driving across the bustling Chawri Bazaar road to get to it gave me a wake up nudge stronger than my sturdy morning coffee.
We entered from the Northern Abdul Ghafoor Gate (No. 3), and as if surrounded with soundproof walls the whole world remained outside its doorstep.
India’s biggest mosque accommodates about 25000 worshipers on a busy day. Standing in the middle of the central courtyard, I couldn’t fathom its largeness at first glance. I guess I was a bit awestruck and it took me few minutes to center myself.
“They also sit on the roofs, the steps outside and beyond” the tour guide told me when I asked how does it possibly fit that number of people?
The building material used in the construction of this majestic monument is mostly white marble and red sandstone. It has the most stunning rubicund glow under the uninterrupted sun rays.
Onion marble domes crowned with gold
The Southern, Western and Northern arcades are lined with soaring columns spreading at equal intervals from swanky arches, carrying a lofty roof.
We lingered in these hallways a little longer than we did outside. I loved watching the shadows dance around the light, which seized every opportunity to pass in.
“I don’t understand why is it that tourists are always taking photos of people praying at mosques?” Angel asked me.
“Because some moments are just worth capturing” I answered.
I hadn’t initially planned to use my phone camera, so I only paid for my 2 DSLRs at the gate. I couldn’t resist snapping a mosque selfie in there though, and I needed to take a couple of square shots with the iPhone for Instagram.
Can you blame me?
Following a quick over the shoulder scan, I took the phone out and pointed at a target. What do you think happened next?
A mosque guardian appeared from nowhere of course, and asked to see my camera receipt. He glanced at it, then firmly reminded me that I didn’t pay for the phone. Tongue tied and embarrassed, I wasn’t sure what makes a good response. Angel came to my rescue, “lnshalla, no problem my friend” he said in an equally firm tone.
An abrupt broad smile appeared behind his thick moustache as he exclaimed “Are you Muslim?”.
“Al Hamdullilla” replied my courteous saviour.
“No problem, you can use phone camera. You are my brother” replied the guard.
A couple stiff back taps, a side single shoulder hug and a few enthusiastic handshakes and we were good to go.
I like leveraging birth rights!
Happy to see the light
We climbed the southern minaret to see the famous panoramic view of the dome and old Delhi in the background that I promised myself.
Those Mughals must have been such small people, as the 40 meters ascent to the top was fairly claustrophobic.
A glimpse of everyday Delhi on the way up
At the top we struggled to keep our feet on the tiny platform next to too many people. It wasn’t the clearest of days, but luckily the view was worth exchanging few breaths with total eager strangers.
The Red Fort of Delhi in the back
Have you been to Jama Mosque in Delhi? What did you like the most about it?