Jama Masjid, Delhi

Jama Masjid
Jama Masjid

Location in Delhi, India

Coordinates: 28°39′03″N 77°14′00″E / 28.6507°N 77.2334°ECoordinates: 28°39′03″N 77°14′00″E / 28.6507°N 77.2334°E
Location Delhi, India
Established 1656
Architectural information
Style Islamic
Capacity 25,000
Length 40 metres (130 ft)
Width 27 metres (89 ft)
Dome(s) 3
Minaret(s) 2
Minaret height 41 metres (135 ft)
Materials Red sandstone, marble

The Masjid-i Jahān-Numā (Persian: مسجد-ا جہاں نما, Devanagari: मस्जिद जहान नुमा, the 'World-reflecting Mosque'), commonly known as the Jama Masjid (Hindi: जामा मस्जिद, Urdu: جامع مسجد) of Delhi, is the largest mosque in India.

It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan between 1644 and 1656 at a cost of 1 million rupees, and was inaugurated by an imam from Bukhara, present-day Uzbekistan. The mosque was completed in 1656 AD with three great gates, four towers and two 40 m high minarets constructed of strips of red sandstone and white marble. The courtyard can accommodate more than 25,000 persons. There are three domes on the terrace which are surrounded by the two minarets. On the floor, a total of 899 black borders are marked for worshippers. The architectural plan is similar to that of Badshahi Masjid, built by Shah Jahan's son Aurangzeb at Lahore, Pakistan.

The mosque has been the site of two attacks, one in 2006 and another in 2010. During the first, two explosions occurred in the mosque, injuring thirteen people. In the second, two Taiwanese students were injured as two gunmen opened fire upon them.


Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built the Jama Masjid between 1644 and 1656. It was constructed by more than 5000 workers. It was originally called Masjid-i-Jahan-Numa, meaning 'mosque commanding view of the world'. The construction was done under the supervision of Saadullah Khan, wazir (or prime minister) during Shah Jahan's rule. The cost of the construction at the time was one million Rupees.[1] Shah Jahan also built the Taj Mahal, at Agra and the Red Fort in New Delhi, which stands opposite the Jama Masjid. The Jama Masjid was completed in 1656 AD (1066 AH).[2] The mosque was inaugurated by a Imam Bukhari, a mullah from Bukhara, Uzebekistan, on 23 July 1656, on the invitation from Shah Jahan.[3] About 25,000 people can pray in the courtyard at a time and it is India's largest mosque.[4][5] The mosque is commonly called "Jama" which means Friday.[1]

After the British victory in Revolt of 1857, they confiscated the mosque and stationed their soldiers here.They also wanted to destroy the mosque for punishing the people of the city. But due to opposition faced, the demolition was not done.[6]


Inlay detail of interior arches

The mosque has three great gates, four towers and two 40 m high minarets constructed of strips of red sandstone and white marble. The northern gate has 39 steps and the southern side has 33 steps. The eastern gate was the rural entrance and it has 35 steps.[7] Out of all these gateways, the eastern one, which was used by the emperors, remains closed during weekdays.[8] The mosque is built on a red sandstone porch, which is about 30 feet (9.1 m) from ground level and spreads over 1200 square metre.[1] The dome is flanked by two lofty minarets which are 130 feet (40 m) high and consists of 130 steps, longitudinally striped by marble and red sandstone.[9] The minarets consists of five storeys, each with a protruding balcony. The adjoining edifices are filled with calligraphy. The first three storeys of the minarets is made of red sandstone, the fourth of marble and the fifth of sandstone.[1]

The courtyard can accommodate 25,000 worshippers and occupies 408 square feet.[10] The mosque is about 261 feet (80 m) long and 90 feet (27 m) wide.[11] The prayer hall measures 61 metre in length and 27.5 metre in breadth.[12] It is made up of high cusped arches and marble domes. The cabinet located in the north gate has a collection of relics of Muhammad – the Quran written on deerskin, a red beard-hair of the prophet, his sandals and his footprints implanted in a marble block.[1]

The floor plan of the mosque is similar to that of the Jama Masjid of Agra.[13] It is covered with white and black ornamented marble to look like a Muslim prayer mat. Beside it, a thin black border measuring 3 feet (0.91 m) long and 1.5 feet (0.46 m) wide is marked for the worshippers. There are 899 total such boxes.[14] The architecture and plan of Badshahi Masjid which was built by Shah Jahan's son Aurangzeb in Lahore is closely related to that of the mosque. Before the Revolt of 1857, there was a madrasa near the southern end of the mosque, which was during the revolt destroyed.[15]

Recent times

Prayer area

In 2006, it was reported that the mosque was in urgent need of repair and the then Saudi Arabian king Abdullah, offered to pay for it. The imam said that he had received the offer directly from the Saudi authorities but requested them to approach the Indian government.[16]

In November 2014, the Shahi Imam Syed Bukhari appointed his son Shaban Bukhari as his successor. However, the Delhi High Court said that this matter had no "legal sanctity" giving no "special equities" to the imam.[17] He created controversy by inviting Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the ceremony and not his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. He said that "Muslims have not forgiven him for the Gujarat riots".[18]

Jama Masjid, Delhi, 1852

2006 Jama Masjid explosions

In 14 April 2006, there were two explosions which came soon after Friday prayers and occurred in swift succession. However it was unclear, about how the blasts occurred. Among the casualties, one was in serious condition, whereas other eight people sustained minor injuries. The then imam, Bukhari commented "here is anger among our people but I am appealing to them to maintain calm".[19]

2010 Jama Masjid attack

View of the dome

On 15 September 2010, two Taiwanese tourists were injured after gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on a bus parked near gate number three of the mosque.[20] After the attack, the police detained 30 people to question and the area was turned into a fortress because policemen were heavily deployed..[21]

In November 2011, the Delhi Police arrested six members of the Indian Mujahideen who were believed to be behind the Jama Masjid blast along with the Pune German bakery blast. Sources said that the "'main man' Imran" allegedly planted the planted the bomb in a car outside the mosque.[22] In September 2013 it was reported that, Yasin Bhatkal, a leader of the group, along with Assadullah Akhtar, were arrested last month and admitted that they carried the attack with on-the-run Pakistani national Waqas. Yasin said that he was ordered by Karachi-based IM head Riyaz Bhatkal to do the task as the Imam allowed "semi-naked" foreigners inside it.[23]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Jama Masjid". Cultural India. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  2. "Short History of Jama Masjid Delhi". Jmuf.org. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  3. Dalrymple, p.252
  4. Stott and McCulloch, p.35
  5. "Charming Chadni Chowk" (PDF). Delhi Tourism. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  6. Liddle, p.217
  7. Akhter, p.270
  8. "Jama Masjid". Tourism India. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  9. Akhter, p.270
  10. Akhter, p.269
  11. Akhter, p.270
  12. Akhter, p.270
  13. Akhter, p.270
  14. Akhter, p.271
  15. Akhter, p.270
  16. "Saudi offer to fix Delhi mosque". BBC. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  17. "Jama Masjid Shahi Imam anoints son as his successor". India Today. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  18. "Inviting Sharif, not Modi to Jama Masjid: Shahi Imam". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  19. "Nine hurt in Delhi mosque blast". BBC. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  20. "Tourists shot near Delhi mosque". BBC. 19 September 2010.
  21. "4 terrorists involved in Jama Masjid firing: Intelligence sources". India Today. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  22. "6 arrested for Pune blast, Jama Masjid attack". IBN Live. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  23. "Cops got wrong man for Jama Masjid attack: Bhatkal". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 10 April 2015.


External links

Media related to Jama Masjid, Delhi at Wikimedia Commons