About Jama Masjid
Jama Masjid, translated as the “Friday Mosque”, is Delhi’s largest and most famous mosque.
History of Jama Masjid
Commissioned in 1644 by the builder of the Taj Mahal, the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, Jama Masjid took fourteen years to complete and is viewed as the Emperor’s biggest architectural triumph. Built on an elevated platform from marble and red sandstone, Jama Masjid is Delhi’s largest mosque.
The result was a symmetrical multi-domed masterpiece capable of holding up to 25,000 worshippers in its vast courtyard. Four watchtowers mark the outer walls as security.
The mosque was confiscated by British soldiers following the Revolt of 1857 and used as a station for British soldiers once their original plan to demolish the mosque was forbidden.
In more recent years, Jama Masjid has been the site of two attacks: tensions between Delhi’s various religious groups do sometimes erupt and it’s worth checking the news before visiting any religious sites in the city.
Jama Masjid today
You will need to dress conservatively, and shoes must be removed on arrival. It’s a good idea to wear shoes you can slip in a bag and carry round with you, although you can normally pay someone a few rupees to watch your shoes for the duration of your visit.
If you’re carrying a camera or a phone with a camera you’ll need to buy a ticket (technically a camera permit). It’s also possible to climb the two minarets for a spectacular view of Delhi, and it remains a great way of understanding Lutyens’ Delhi too as the plans are most obvious from above.
The mosque is open every day, although Friday is the busiest. Sunrise and sunset are good times to visit as the mosque is relatively quiet and the light is extremely nice on a clear day – especially if you want to take good photos.
Getting to Jama Masjid
The mosque is a short walk from the Jama Masjid station (Violet Line), in the heart of Old Delhi. You can easily walk here from the Red Fort or Chandni Chowk. Tuk tuks and taxis will be able to drop you here easily if you’re coming from further afield.