India is a country having diverse culture, traditions and many religions. The people here are known to celebrate all the festivals irrespective of the religion they belong to. One of the features that make India strong is in their belief in the phrase 'Unity in Diversity'.
Of the many attractions that lure travellers to this country, specific mention must be made of the various mosques that are to be seen here. Many of these mosques were built during the Mughal reign and continue to hold their grandeur to the present. Devotees throng in large numbers to these mosques and to offer their prayers.
While few of these mosques are famous for their historical significance, there are those that attract travellers with their majestic beauty. A visit to India is absolutely incomplete for any traveller who has not witnessed these stunning mosques. Here is a guide to the five largest mosques that India boasts of. While men would find it easy to explore these mosques, women travellers would have to adhere to a few rules laid down by the mosque administration.
1. Jama Masjid, Delhi
The Jama Masjid at Delhi is one of the oldest and largest mosques of India and was built under the reigh of Emperor Shah Jahan. It was originally named 'Masjid-I-Jahan Numa' meaning the mosque that reflects the world. It later got its present name from the word 'Jumma' meaning Friday. The Friday prayers are considered very important and every Muslim goes to the mosque on this day.
The mosque can hold upto 25,000 worshippers at any given time and has three gates and four towers. The floor of this moqsue has a covering of black marble that resembles a Muslim prayer mat. It is a major attaraction in Delhi visited by all who come here.
A feeling of Spirituality
Photo Courtesy: Sourav Das
Taj-ul Masjid in Bhopal is an important place for Muslims of the city and is also an important landmark. This mosque is one among the biggest and most beautiful mosques in the country and boasts of an alluring and majestic structure. The literal translation of the name means 'The Crown of Mosques' and it is rightly so.
The mosque is painted in a delicate pink colour and has colossal minarets with white domes. The entire spectacle is breathtaking especially at night when the mosque is lit up, giving the entire area an enchanting look. The mosque boasts of a huge main hall that is lined with delicately carved pillars and has marble flooring.
View of the Taj-ul Masjid
Photo Courtesy: Aneela
Mecca Masjid is not only the oldest mosque in the city of Hyderabad but also has the distinction of being one of the largest mosques in the country. Apart from having religious significance for the Muslims, the mosque also has historical importance and is a heritage building protected by the state government.
The Masjid is a popular tourist attraction since it stands quite close to other popular and historical destinations like Charminar and Chowmahalla Palace. Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah started the construction of the Masjid in the 16th century and the bricks used for the construction were prepared using the soil brought from Mecca. These bricks were used to prepare the central arch.
The Masjid literally as well as symbolically is the central point around which Quli Qutb Shah built his empire. An interesting feature of the Masjid is the room situated within the patio of the Masjid. It is believed that a hair from the head of Islamic Prophet Mohammed is preserved here.
Picturesque view of the Mecca Masjid
Photo Courtesy: cephas_405
Jamia Masjid, built in 1400 AD, is considered as one of the oldest and largest mosques in Srinagar. This ancient mosque has been destroyed and restored numerous times over the years with it being last renovated under the reign of Maharaja Pratap Singh.
The design of this religious centre is a perfect blend of Muslim designs and Indian materials. This architectural style was developed by British architects and is known as Indo-Saracenic architecture. As a result, the new building of the mosque does not have a topped dome that is typical of the Muslim design.
A major attraction of this mosque is its prayer hall supported by 370 pillars, each made of deodar trunk. The contrast between the tranquillity inside the mosque and the bustle of markets surrounding it is also a feature much appreciated by visitors. The Jamia Masjid is quite a spacious mosque and has an accommodation capacity of 30,000 people at a time.
A devotee offering prayers at the mosque
Photo Courtesy: Varun Shiv Kapur
5. Jama Masjid, Agra
Built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1648 as a tribute to his favorite daughter Jahanara Begum, Jama Masjid is also popular by the name of Jami Masjid. It is built with red sandstone and decorated with white marble in simple design. The walls and ceilings of the shrine are covered with blue paint.
It is one of the largest mosques in India and is situated in the centre of the city opposite to Agra Fort railway station. The mosque stands upon a high platform and can be entered through five arched gates. It has three large domes made of red sandstone. The walls of the shrine are decorated with inlaid geometric figures in colored tiles and calligraphic engravings.
The central courtyard of Jama Masjid is so large and spacious that it can accommodate 10,000 devotees for prayer at any time. It also hosts the tomb of the great Sufi saint Sheikh Salim Chisti in its premises.
Scenic view of the mosque
Photo Courtesy: Jonathan Freundlich