Jama Masjid - Delhi, India

 Jama Masjid or Masjid-i-Jahan Numa as in Urdu is one of the largest and oldest mosques in India. This mosque was specially built in 1656 AD on the order of Shah Jahan, the Mughal Emperor who has the famous Taj Mahal to his fame.

A grand and remarkable example of the Mughal architecture, the Jama Masjid has a huge spacious courtyard which can house about twenty five thousand individuals at a time. The mosque outlooks the Red Fort at the east and is situated at the beginning of the busy streets of Chandni Chowk or Old Delhi.
 The Masjid-i-Jahan Numa refers to the mosque that commands a view of the entire world. It took a period of six years and about 5000 odd workers to complete this magnificent structure, which includes three gateways, two minarets, and four towers. A wonderful piece of architecture, this mosque is built on a 10-m platform from the ground level and extends along 1200 sq m in area. Open arched arcades cover the west-facing mosque on three sides. Three domes alternately striped in white and black marble form the roof of the 80-m long and 27-m wide mosque. The domes are lined on either side by two huge 41-m tall minarets containing 130 steps. Red sandstone and white marble stripes are present on these minarets. Four similar minarets also adorn the backside of the mosque.
A flight of 39 stairs on the northern side, and 33 stairs on the southern end lead their way into the courtyard. The main gate or the royal entrance lies on the eastern front has a staircase of 35 steps. These stairs are made up of red sandstone, the primary material used in the ancient times. The royal entrance on the east usually remains closed during most of the week. As the name suggests, this entrance was mainly used by the emperors and members of the royal families. Ancient relics of Prophet Muhammad are entrenched in a marble slab and displayed on a high pulpit at the northern gate of the mosque, so as to enable a splendid view for all around. These include the famous Khuran inscribed on deerskin, the prophet's sandals, his red beard-hair, his sandals, and footprints. Shops and food stalls used to line these steps once upon a time. A poultry bazaar also used to spring up during the evenings. The eastern gate used to therefore buzz with activities.