My visit to Jama Masjid was an impromptu one. I had never been to a Mosque before but I wanted to. Its proximity to the Red Fort was the reason I chose to visit it after visiting the Red Fort. Having read and heard about the chaos and hustle-bustle of this area of Delhi, I was quite prepared for it.
Famous for shopping, lip-smacking street food and narrow old streets, this place has a soul of its own where you can easily lose yourself in more than one way. Jama Masjid stands in a complete contrast to the area it is located in.
Where there is noise, crowd and utter chaos outside, inside is an oasis of peace and open space.
When the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan moved his capital from Agra to Delhi, he constructed this magnificent monument as the main centre for the worship of God.
The construction started during 1644 and was completed in 1656. It is said that more than 5000 workers were involved in its construction and it cost approximately one million rupees. Originally, Jama Masjid was named ‘Masjid-i-Jahanuma’ meaning ‘world reflecting mosque’.
Similar to the other famous monuments built by Shah Jahan, red sandstone and white marble has been used in the construction of Jama Masjid.
The structure is built on a higher level than its surroundings that covers an area of 1200 sq metres. About 30 stairs lead to it from its entrance gates. Jama Masjid can accommodate 25000 people in its courtyard. It is a beautiful epitome of Indo-Islamic architecture.
There are three entrance gates for Jama Masjid, each on eastern, northern and southern side. West is the direction that devotees face while offering prayers. It is the direction of Mecca and the Jama Masjid also faces the same direction.
Esthetically pleasing Eastern gate used to be reserved for the Mughals.
The northern gate was used by the noble men as the entrance and the southern gate was left for the commoners to use.
A huge open courtyard welcomed us where lots of pigeons were flying around. A water tank in the middle of the courtyard is used by the devotees for ‘wudu’ (ablution) where they wash their face, hands and feet before going in for prayer.
Artwork on the gates, domes, corridors, minarets and calligraphy are sure to catch one’s eye. The whole courtyard is lined with red sandstone tiles.
A canopied platform made up of white marble is placed near the prayer hall. There was no information available about it. People were using it as a prop to take pictures standing inside or around it.
Three marble domes adorn the prayer hall. White and black marble patterns on the floor of the prayer hall give the impression of prayer mats. I could notice some men offering prayers and I slowly moved away.
Be mindful about your clothing while visiting Jama Masjid. Women should keep their legs, shoulders and arms covered otherwise you might have to get a robe costing INR 50 from the entrance to cover yourself up.
Though I have also heard about foreigner women being pressured into wearing these robes irrespective of what they are wearing. Men, if wearing shorts, need to get a robe too.
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There are four minarets in Jama Masjid which are about 40 metres tall. With an entry fee of INR 50, you can go up and have a look around.
I was curious about checking the view at the top. Stairs lead you first to the rooftop and then a very narrow, dimly lit and steep staircase leads towards the top of the tower. Be careful if you are going alone. It can get very crowded as there isn’t enough space at the top of the tower.
The place provides a bird’s eye view of the Jama Masjid and old Delhi. Red Fort is also visible here.
Jama Masjid came under the control of British after the revolt of 1857. They wanted to demolish it but faced strong opposition from the public. Hence, they had to drop their plans.
During the festivals like Eid and the holy month of Ramzan, the hustle-bustle, crowd, and activities increase manifold. Jama Masjid becomes a hub for Muslim families during Ramzan for offering prayers and for Iftar (evening meal after fasting).
The best way to reach Jama Masjid is by Metro. Jama Masjid Metro Station is the nearest metro station. Traveling by car would be time consuming and too much of a headache due to traffic congestion. The nearest airport is IGI Airport, New Delhi, which is located at a distance of about 17 Kms.
The Jama Masjid opens from 7 a.m. to 6.30 p.m and is closed between 12 pm to 1.30 p.m for prayer hours everyday. There is no entry fee for Jama Masjid but INR 300 is charged for photography. In case you are carrying a phone (with inbuilt camera), you will be asked to pay the fee anyway.
Although Jama Masjid is open throughout the year, months from October to March are the best to visit it. Summers are extremely hot in Delhi that start with April and heat subsides with the arrival of October.
Jama Masjid is one of the biggest Mosques of India. It was built by Shah Jahan during 1644. It also boasts of being one of the most visited tourist attractions in Delhi.
Jama Masjid is located in Chandni Chowk area of Old Delhi.
Anyone can visit Jama Masjid irrespective of his or her religion.
Shah Jahan was the founder of Jama Masjid, Delhi.
Yes, girls can visit Jama Masjid
Yes, Jama Masjid is safe to visit. In addition to being a religious place, Jama Masjid attracts a lot of visitors daily who visit to admire its architectural beauty and for photography.
Yes, anyone can go inside Jama Masjid but one should be careful of a few things like removing shoes before entering, dressing conservatively and not disturbing anyone who is offering a prayer.
Chandni Chowk is just about 5-10 minutes walk away from Jama Masjid.
Yes, photography is allowed in Jama Masjid.
You have to take a Metro to reach Jama Masjid Metro station on the Violet Line (also called Heritage Line) which is the nearest Metro Station to Jama Masjid.
Jama Masjid is less than a kilometer away from Jama Masjid Metro Station and takes about 5 minutes to reach walking.
Lal Qila Metro Station is nearest to the Red Fort.
Jama Masjid is one of the main religious places for the Muslims. It houses the relics of Prophet Muhammad which includes his sandals, his hair, his footprint embedded in marble and Quran written on deerskin.
Red Fort is located at a distance of about 2 Kms from Chandni Chowk Metro station.
Where to stay close to Jama Masjid
Located near Jama Masjid, this heritage building has been awarded UNESCO award for cultural and heritage restoration. On-site restaurant, bar and free wifi are some of the services provided.
This property is located about 3 Kms away from Jama Masjid. Buffet breakfast, terrace and helpful staff make it a popular choice among travelers.
Travel Tips for Jama Masjid, Delhi
- Be careful of the touts and vendors vying for attention of the visitors. They can be quite persistent.
- I would suggest carrying an extra pair of socks if you don’t want to walk around barefoot. If you don’t want to leave your shoes outside, you can carry them in a bag with you.
- If you are a female foreigner visitor, wear something loose fitting that covers your arms, legs and neck. Also, carry a stole to cover your head.