Amazing Mosques of India: Our Top Picks
India is a land of diversity and this can be seen everywhere. Take for instance our places of worship - be it temples, mosques or churches. As the month of Ramzan is observed around the world, we take you on a journey across India to tell you about some of the most amazing mosques that we at Peepul Tree Stories have come across. Stretching from Kashmir to Kerala, and Gujarat to Bengal, these mosques represent the unique architectural styles of the regions they belong to.
Along the banks of the river Jhelum in Srinagar, lies the Khanqah-e-Moula, one of the earliest Islamic shrines in Kashmir. Constructed in the late 14th century CE by Sultan Sikander of the Shah Miri dynasty, it is known for its exquisite woodwork, age-old chandeliers and paper mache decoration. It is considered one of the finest examples of Kashmiri wooden architecture.
Also known as Shah-e-Hamdaan Masjid, the Khanqah-e-Moula is dedicated to the Sufi saint Mir Syed Ali Hamdani who introduced Islam to the Kashmir valley in the late 14th century. There is a popular tradition in Kashmir, that a lot of the crafts from Pashmina to Walnut Carving were introduced to the region by him and his followers.
Moorish Mosque, Kapurthala
The town of Kapurthala in Punjab is home to one of the loveliest mosques in India – The Moorish Mosque. Built in 1930, this is a replica of the famous 12th-century Kutubiyya Mosque at Marrakesh in Morocco. What makes this mosque special also is the fact that it was designed by a French architect M. Manteaux and was paid for by a Sikh ruler, Maharaja Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala, for his Muslim subjects.
Maharaja Jagatjit Singh was an exceptionally well-travelled and progressive ruler who wanted to bring glimpses of the places he visited back home to his subjects. Built at a cost of Rs 600,000, the mosque was inaugurated by Nawab Sadeq Mohammad Khan V, the Nawab of Bhawalpur. What makes it architecturally unique is that, unlike other mosques in India, it does not have any domes or minarets, but a tall square tower at one end. More here.
Jama Masjid, Delhi
Built in 1656 CE under the fifth Mughal emperor Shahjahan, the visually stunning Jama Masjid at Delhi was also called the Masjid-i Jahanuma, or 'the mosque commanding a view of the world’. Constructed predominantly on red sandstone and marble, it was the largest mosque in the Indian subcontinent at the time of its construction. The Jama Masjid served as the Imperial mosque till the end of the Mughal rule in 1857. Designed using red sandstone and white marble, it is one of the finest specimens of Mughal architecture in India.
The Jama Masjid, just like the Red Fort, was built as a part of Emperor Shah Jahan’s new capital Shahjahanabad. Built atop a hill, it had a commanding view of the city around it and was known for its three sandstone gates. The main mosque and the courtyard can accommodate up to 25,000 worshippers.
The magnificent mosque Taj-Ul-Masajid at Bhopal was built by a Begum, who shared her name as well as love for grandiose construction, with a Mughal emperor. Nawab Shah Jahan Begum was one of the ‘Begums of Bhopal’, who were powerful female rulers who ruled the central Indian kingdom in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Nawab Shah Jahan Begum became the ruler in 1868 and began a series of mega-construction projects to cement her legacy. A suburb of Bhopal called ‘Shahjahanabad’ was built, along with a large palace called ‘Taj Mahal’. A large mosque called ‘Taj Ul Masjid’, meant to rival the Jama Masjid in Delhi, was planned in 1871 to serve the needs of the growing city. But due to the paucity of funds, the mosque remained incomplete for a century and was only completed by the 1980s. Few people realize that this mosque in Bhopal is actually the largest mosque in India.
Jama Masjid, Mandu
This Jama Masjid (a name given to all large/ primary mosques) is the grandest among all the monuments in the medieval capital of Mandu in Madhya Pradesh. Built in the 15th Century CE by the Malwa Sultans, it once had 162 domes of which only 96 survive today. Along with being decorative, these domes were part of an acoustic system to ensure that the imam’s voice during azaan or the call to prayer was heard right across the large mosque.
Mandu, known as ‘Shadiabad’ or the ‘City of Joy’ was once one of the grandest cities of Central India. But following the Mughal conquest in 1561, the city was abandoned and the local people left for places such as Burhanpur, Ujjain and Indore. The mosque is now under the protection of the Archeological Survey of India. More here.
Adina Mosque, Malda
Just like its terracotta temples, West Bengal is also famous for its terracotta mosques. Dotting present-day Malda, Hooghly, Birbhum, Burdwan and Murshidabad districts, these mosques reflect a tantalizing combination of local styles with architectural influences from Central Asia and the Delhi Sultanate. Here you will see exquisite art, glazed terracotta and pierced mosaic.
Among all the terracotta mosques, the Adina Mosque in Pandua in the Malda district of West Bengal is a standout. It was once the largest in the entire Indian subcontinent when Pandua was the capital of the Bengal Sultanate in the 14th century. Built in 1373, the design of the mosque incorporates local Bengali, Arab, Persian and Byzantine architectural styles. The mosque was damaged by a series of earthquakes in the 19th century and was subsequently abandoned as a place of worship. More here.
Jami Masjid, Champaner
Part of the famous Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Jami Masjid in Gujarat is one of the most beautiful and impressive mosques in India. Built in the 15th Century CE, the mosque’s striking features are its symmetrical composition, the perfection of detail and ornamentation and motifs, which have been inspired by the Hindu and Jain temples of Gujarat. Another unique feature of this mosque is the presence of 172 pillars in its exteriors and its two minarets that reach up to 30 feet! More here.
Cheraman Juma Masjid, Thrissur
Though it is one of the simplest-looking mosques you will come across, the Cheraman Juma Masjid packs in quite a story. This mosque is considered India’s earliest Mosque, which is said to be constructed during the lifetime of Prophet Mohammad in 629 CE The mosque is named after the local Hindu ruler Cheraman Perumal who embraced Islam and also went on a pilgrimage to Medina. Its architecture is a combination of both Islamic and local Kerala architectural styles.
These mosques are but a handful of the many beautiful and historic mosques that can be found across India and we at Peepul Tree Stories have done stories on many of them. Do search for mosques on our Search button to find more.
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