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Delhi can be the undoing of even the hardiest traveller, so Jama Masjid is a welcome oasis of spiritual calm in the heart of the city. The eastern gate was originally only for imperial use, but today, everyone is welcome into the mosque’s gorgeous courtyard, a sanctuary from the madness of Old Delhi.
The Jama Masjid follows the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort as the final extravagance of Shah Jahan, who made sure the mosque and its pulpit sat higher than his residence and throne.
Like many buildings from Mughal architecture’s ‘golden era’, it is made entirely from red sandstone and white marble – but it is the beautiful decorative patterns that will take your breath away.
Once you’ve regained your senses, head to the southernmost minaret, climb all 121 steps, and trust that what awaits you will be worth the effort.
From the top, Chandni Chowk’s markets – with all their noise, smells and colours – look like a peaceful ocean. Cast your eye further and you will see out to Connaught Place and Sansad Bhavan, with Delhi laid out in all its glory.
Jama Masjid is a way to extract yourself from the hustle and bustle of the city, and to see the bigger picture. Certainly, from the top of the minaret, you’ll understand why Shah Jahan originally called it Masjid e Jahan Numa – ‘a mosque that commands a view of the world’.
This great mosque is India’s largest; with an interior courtyard capable of housing 25,000 devotees, Friday at the ‘Friday Mosque’ is truly something to behold! In the middle of this courtyard is the hauz, an ablution tank for washing your hands, face, and feet, to symbolise the ritual of baptism needed to enter the community of believers.
You will have to remove your shoes at the top of the mosque steps, and remember to dress appropriately. Don’t worry if you have forgotten to cover up, though – travellers can hire robes at the northern gate.
Jama Masjid’s beautiful interior is not the only thing that will catch your eye; be sure to take a trip up the minaret for stunning panoramic views over Old Delhi. Afterwards, you can rejoin the throng in the Chandni Chowk markets and head to Kanwarji’s for a sweet treat to top off your day.
The mosque is a stunning example of Mughal design, so head over to our itinerary builder to find out how to make Jama Masjid part of your India experience.
Right at the heart of the Old City, at the end of Chandni Chowk thoroughfare. Traffic in this part of Delhi is a nightmare, but can be avoided by taking the metro. The Heritage Line provides direct access to the mosque’s main eastern gate.
You can visit Jama Masjid on any day of the week, from 7am - 6.30pm. However, tourists are not allowed to visit during prayers (noon - 1.30pm).
The best time to go is early in the morning, before the crowds – and when the light is best for photos. The mosque gets particularly busy on Fridays, when devotees gather for prayer.
Entry is free, but you have to pay the camera charge (Rs 300); they may even charge you for a cameraphone. It costs extra to climb the minaret, possibly Rs 300.
Note unaccompanied women are not permitted at the southern minaret.
Very strict – be sure to cover up completely and consider covering your head with a scarf. Shoes can’t be worn inside the mosque.
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