An elevated view of the Jama Masjid mosque at dusk in Old Delhi on the 5th October 2011
The Masjid-i Jahan-Namaa (Persian: the 'World-reflecting Mosque'), commonly known as the Jama Masjid of Delhi, is the principal mosque of Old Delhi in India. Commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj Mahal, and completed in the year 1656 AD, it is one of the largest and best-known mosques in India. It lies at the origin of a very busy central street of Old Delhi, Chandni Chowk.
The later name, Jaama Masjid, is a reference to the weekly Friday noon congregation prayers of Muslims, which are usually done at a mosque, the "congregational mosque" or "jaama masjid". The courtyard of the mosque can hold up to twenty-five thousand worshipers. The mosque also houses several relics in a closet in the north gate, including a copy of the Qur'an written on deer skin.
The mosque was the result of the efforts of over 5,000 workers, over a period of six years. The cost incurred on the construction in those times was 10 lakh (1 million) Rupees. Shah Jahan built several important mosques in Delhi, Agra, Ajmer and Lahore. The Jama Masjid's floorplan is very similar to the Jama Masjid at Agra, but the Jama Masjid is the bigger and more imposing of the two. Its majesty is further enhanced because of the high ground that he selected for building this mosque. The architecture and design of the Badshahi Masjid of Lahore built by Shah Jahan's son Aurangzeb in 1673 is closely related to the Jama Masjid in Delhi.
PHOTOGRAPH BY AND COPYRIGHT OF SIMON DE TREY-WHITE