Just a bit away from the Charminar is another of Hyderabad’s great attractions, the Mecca Masjid. This is easily the largest of the city’s mosques, and quite possibly even among the top 5 largest ones in India, considering it can accommodate as many as ten thousand persons at once. Like Chowmahalla, the Mecca Masjid (also transliterated as Makkah Masjid) took more than a few decades to build. The Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah was the one who commissioned the construction, and did it in order to create a lasting monument out of soil carried to the city from Mecca (which was integrated into the bricks used for the edifice’s main arch). This was also what inspired the name of the mosque.
There are many things that can take your breath away about the Mecca Masjid. A simple viewing of the structure for the first time, in fact, is often sufficient. Boasting 15 supporting arches inside and a hall over 20 metres high, you can easily see how ten thousand persons could fit into the huge mosque. Another point of interest would have to do with some of the materials that went into its construction, such as the single block of granite that was used and carved into to produce the three outer arches. This piece alone took half a decade to excavate for usage—not even to carve. The rest of the magnificent arches are also made out of single blocks of this particular rock.
Inside is a lovely swimming pool beside which people typically sit and reflect. There are minarets that, while not as tall, bear striking echoes of the Charminar’s design. There are also tombs for the Nizams of the Asaf Jahi.
Something that brought a bit of worry to those eager to see the great mosque for a while was that it was the site of one of the terrorist bombings of 2007, which injured and even killed some people. Security has since picked up around the area, however, with police regularly deploying in large numbers around the Charminar and Mecca Masjid area (since the two landmarks are within walking distance of each other), especially during Friday prayers. While this has drawn some criticism from some people, who feel that the intimidating presence of the policemen is bringing down attendance in the mosque, others argue that it is perhaps the only thing that can come close to ensuring a safer locale.
Perhaps a less ominous—though still serious—issue faced by those taking care of Mecca Masjid is the deterioration poor maintenance and various environmental factors have wrought on the landmark. Granted, some of the last repairs were actually necessitated by damage stemming from the 2007 bombings (specifically, the replacement of several “takhat” or heavy marble benches in the square), but other experts are noting that more care shall have to be taken if the beauty of the building is to be preserved. The rising levels of air pollution in Charminar have actually been blamed in part for the discolorations and cracks in the building’s façade, and the state has responded by working on bringing down pollution and traffic in the area.