Masjid-i-Jahan-Numa is a most appropriate name for this enormous mosque in Delhi as it means “mosque commanding view of the world.” This Shah Jahan’s final architectural brainchild is so huge it can easily accommodate a staggering 25,000 devotees on a Friday Islamic/Muslim prayer service. It is located across the Red Fort in the heart of Shahjahanbad, which used to be the capital of the Mughals.
How the Architectural Opus Came to Be
This masterpiece was built from 1644 to 1658 during Shah Jahan’s reign, India’s Fifth Mughal Emperor, under the watchful eyes of his Prime Minister, Saadullah Khan. The construction of this colossal edifice reached an incredible amount of Rs 10 lakhs (about a million dollars) during the time, excluding those materials that were given as gifts by nawabs and nobilities.
The first cornerstone was laid down by Shah Jahan himself during the10th of Shawwal 1060 AH; the first Friday of October in 1650 AD. The work continued for six years and was completed in 1066 AH/1656 AD employing over 500 artisans and India’s best sculptors, chiselers, engineers and calligraphers, as well as 5,000 laborers. To speed up the slow construction, Saadullah Khan ordered the recital of a Holy Quran to consecrate each stone.
A Peek in Times Gone By
Shahjahan thought that such a unparalleled mosque only deserves an equally supreme imam. So, he requested the Shah of Bukhara (Uzbekistan), then the center of higher learning and arts, to send an imam to fill the illustrious post of the Imamat of Jama Masjid. The latter sent Syed Abdul Ghafoor Shah Bukhari, an outstanding figure from Bukhara, who is highly educated, noble by birth, and a descendant of the Holy Prophet.
Syed Abdul Ghafoor Shah Bukhari was officially installed as the Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid to the high office of Imamat-e-Uzma on the 1st Shawwal, 1066 AH – July 24, 1656 AD. He said his first prayers for the Id-ul-Fitr. Since then and through generations, all the succeeding Imamat came from his family – his son, his son’s son, and so forth. He and his successors enjoyed the honors to carry out the coronation of the Mughal Emperors. The last rite was performed by the eighth Shahi Imam, Mir Ahmed Ali Shah Bukhari on 30th September, 1837 AD (9th of Jamadi-us-Thani 1253 AH).
The Magnificence and Attractions of Jama Masjid
The beauty and magnificence of Jama masjid is anchored on its simplicity, the topmost goal in its construction. It is located on a 1400 square-yard (1200 m²) mound in the heart of the Old-Delhi. The elevated mound about 30 feet (10 m) makes it visible from most parts of the region within 5 kilometer radius. It has two lofty minarets, standing 40 meters high and made of white marble and red sandstone, which project beautifully into the city’s skyline. The white marble and red sandstone were massive used in the mosque and largely account for Jama Masjid’s strength, beauty and opulence appeal.
There are also four towers and three entrances in the complex. The main gate used by the emperors faces the Red Fort located on the eastern side and there are fleets of steps that lead to the north and south gates. It consists of five unique stories; levels one to three are red having been constructed using red sandstone, the fourth is made of marble, and the fifth in sandstone. With the jutting balconies, each story is made exceptional
The adjacent structures are made beautifully distinct with elaborate carvings and calligraphy of verses lifted from the holy Koran. The primary worship hall is graced with marble domes and tall cusped arches. Near the north gate there is a structure that houses a collection of Muhammad’s memorabilia, such as his locks red beard-hair, his sandals, and footprints on a marble block, the Koran inscribed on deerskin, etc.
An international landmark, this mosque is an iconic structure that receives a throng of visitors daily along with the Red Fort, another attraction in the old Delhi. If you are planning to visit Jama Masjid, you may check this site for more information: Renaissance Reizen.