With that, came the stunning era of Islamic architecture and delicate designs, giving the world some of the most magnificent monuments.
A marvel of Mughal architecture, the Jama Masjid located in the old hub of New Delhi is the largest mosque in India. At once, it has the capacity to accommodate around 25,000 people! This grand monument was built during the reign of Shah Jahan and took six years to be completed.
Spread across an area of 1,200 meters, the mosque consists of three gateways, four towers and two minarets. Its main entrance — which faces the famous Red Fort — is adorned with delicate carvings. The mosque is entirely made out of red sandstone and white marble, but its floor is kept black and white, to resemble a Muslim prayer mat.
The mosque is of special significance as it holds several vital relics from the Mughal era — which includes a copy of the Qur’an scripted on deerskin.
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Built over 400 years ago, the Charminar has now become the face of the cultural identity of Hyderabad city. The massive structure, located in the heart of the town, is said to have been built by Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah, with bricks that were made from the soil of Mecca. Moreover, its four huge minarets are believed to represent the four khalifas of Islam.
While the mosque is mainly built in Indo-Islamic architecture, it also has elements inspired by the Persian style. To reach the top dome of each of the minarets, you have to climb around 150 steps. From there, you can get a bird’s eye view of the hustle and bustle of the surrounding old city market.
October to FebruaryE
Overlooking the magnificent Arabian Sea, the Haji Ali Dargah is one of the most popular tourist places in India’s financial hub, Mumbai. Built in the honour of the Muslim saint Pir Haji Ali Shah in 1431, legend says that he gave up all his wealth to make a trip to Mecca.
His tomb lies within the mosque — surrounded by huge marble columns which are engraved with mirror work. The varied patterns inside the mosque creatively spell out the ninety-nine different names of Allah over the pillars.
Fridays and Saturdays are preferred days to visit this shrine as sometimes Sufi musicians perform qawalli (a form of devotional music) there.
Taj-ul-Masjid translates to ‘Crown of Mosques’ — and its gleaming domes and beautiful minarets ensure that the mosque lives up to its name. Commissioned under the reign of Shah Jahan Begum in 1877 in Bhopal, the monument was not finished till the 1980’s.
Surrounded by a vast courtyard, the mosque has three domes and two minarets. It is also considered as one of the largest mosques in Asia and has some similarities in its decor to the Jama Masjid in New Delhi.
The mosque is open for all on all days, except for Fridays when non-Muslims are not allowed inside. The mosque is centrally located in Bhopal so that you can take a cab around the city.
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October to March
Famed for its architectural finesse, the Sidi Saiyyed Mosque has now become the identity of India’s first heritage city, Ahmedabad. The mosque which was built in 1573 by the last of Gujarat, is known for its elaborate ‘jalis’ or windows. The most stunning of these jalis— referred to as the ‘tree of life jali’ — features a tree and its leaves finely spread across a semi-circular arch.
Creating fascinating silhouette patterns during dusk, these intricately carved jalis are also a photographer’s delight. Dusk and dawn are the best time to visit the monument as the rays of the sun fill the mosque with beautiful shadow patterns.
Located on the outskirts of Ajmer city in Rajasthan, Adhai Din ka Jhonpra is one of the oldest mosques in India and is popular for its exquisite Indo-Islamic architecture. It is said that the construction of the mosque was completed in just two and a half days, as its name suggests, in the 1150’s.
Formerly a Sanskrit college, it is said that Mughal emperors converted the building into a mosque. Adhai-din-ka-Jhonpra is an ancient temple and a Sanskrit college that was converted into a mosque by the founder of the Slave Dynasty, Qutubuddin Aibak, in 1193. Though this beautiful monument is in ruins now, the Islamic calligraphic inscriptions on its seven-arched wall and stunning pillars are what attract tourists here.