The Srinagar Jama Masjid is just one of the many in the country, but it is without a doubt one of the most remarkable. This gorgeous place of worship is a rather superb representative of what has been dubbed the Indo-Gothic architectural style, a confluence of regional architectural influences that has led to a melding of traditional Indian design with continental European notes. One point of note about the Jama Masjid of Srinagar is that it is especially noticeable given that it has no dome, a feature one often expects of the average mosque. Instead, the building is topped with delicate, almost pagoda-like stepped spires. At some point, people considered it the most notable of the edifices in the area as far as the Kashmiri style of wooden building went.
The Srinagar Jama Masjid is supposedly the construction of the Sultan Sikandar in the 15th century. His son is said to have expanded the building to what it is today. The structure actually has a fairly interesting history, for records indicate that it has been burned no fewer than three times in its life. Each time, so the records say, the mosque was nearly destroyed by the fires beyond repair-“nearly” being the operative word as far as authorities and the townspeople of that time were concerned, of course. Each time it fell to the fires, people rebuilt it. In fact, its last major restoration was in the 16th century, during the reign of Maharajah Pratap Singh.
As may be gathered from the accounts of its burning, the building uses a great deal of wood for its construction, and that has not been changed by the renovations. In fact, one of the most notable features of the building employs wood: there are 370 pillars within the walls of the structure, and each of the pillars is claimed to have been crafted or shaped out of a single piece of unbroken wood from the deodar tree. The deodar tree is also known as the Himalayan cedar, a common tree in this land, of course.
370 pillars need a lot of space if they are to avoid looking like pins clustered together at the end of a bowling lane: indeed, the Srinagar Jama Masjid is perfectly capable of fitting more than 30,000 persons within its walls. The mosque is actually one of the most visited buildings in all of Srinagar-or to be precise, around it: the mosque is situated in the centre of Nowhatta, which used to be the old city. Today’s Srinagar is a mere 5km from this location, so residents of Srinagar need not even travel too far to get to the mosque. Be warned, if you intend to go to this place, that you should be wary of going on a Friday: this is the time when most of the city’s residents and locals come to the mosque for their prayers, so it may be a bit of a crush if you go to see the building then.