When visiting Agra, you will come across different historical monuments, mausoleums, and palaces such as the Fatehpur Sikri. Fatehpur Sikri comprises many grand structures that include the mosque Jama Masjid. Located just opposite Agra Fort, Agra’s principal mosque is one of the largest in India.
This masjid was built in 1648 during the rule of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and is dedicated to Jahanara Begum, his favorite daughter. The name of the temple means Friday mosque and it stands on a high platform approached with stairs. It has five arched entrances that lead to the large courtyard to accommodate worshippers.
The masjid is roofed with three huge sandstone domes, identified by their zigzag band of marbles. At the right side of the mosque is the hall Jammat Khana and next to it is the Zenana Rauza or the mausoleum of women of the royal household. Along the main prayer wall is the beautifully inlaid sandstone similar to the ones seen on the gateway of Taj Mahal, which adds a suitably feminine touch.
Inside the mosque complex, you will see the shrine of Sheik Salim Chisti, the religious leader of Sulfi. The tomb is adorned with stunning lattice marble screens. Jama Masjid is decorated with exquisite inlaid geometric patterns, colored tiles, and inscriptions. The structure looks symmetrically proportioned, conveying an austere beauty that befits its religious purpose.
Leading to entrances on the North, East, and South sides of the mosque are the wide red sandstone steps. The tower consists of five storeys, with each having a projecting balcony. The first three storeys are built from red sandstones, the fourth from marble, and the fifth from sandstone again.
The Jama Masjid sits on an elevated podium. The three elegant sandstone domes enhance the beauty of the mosque, all covered with marbles. The walls are decorated with sacred calligraphy, inscriptions, and colored tiles.
The main entrance to the mosque is through the 54-meter-high Buland Darwaza or the Gate of Victory, built to honor Akbar’s triumph in Gujarat. This towering gateway can be reached through impressive flights of steps. Inside is the large courtyard marked by two white-and-red-striped minarets that cap the prayer hall on the west direction, facing Mecca. Another great gate is the Badshahi Darwaza, which is also known for its beauty and grandeur.
Every Friday and on holy days, devotees who come for Namaaz fill this place. The mosque is one of Agra’s main landmarks. It serves as a valuable reference point when venturing the busy bazaars that sprawl below the mosque. This street market has been around since Mughal days and is best explored by foot. In front of the northeast side of the complex, be sure to look for the pehta-wallahs, the source of Agra’s most popular sweets made from crystallized pumpkins.
Jama Masjid has well-balanced proportions and the courtyard is enclosed by a prayer hall on the west side and cloisters on the other three sides. There is also a fountain with four pavilions in the center of the courtyard. Overall, the monument appears magnificent. It is still in use, with the devotees thronging within its portals during Fridays to offer their prayers.