Mosques and dargahs are holy places of worship for the followers of Islam. A lot of these religious buildings have deep, deep roots in our very own country. India has of a ton of these revered spaces, some of which were constructed by the mighty Mughal rulers during their reign. These places weren't just important as far as religion was concerned, but the architectural excellence and grandeur of these mosques, speaks volumes about our rich Islamic past.
Here's a list of the 10 most beautiful mosques in India that you have to experience at least once:
1. Hazratbal Mosque, Srinagar
Located on the western banks of the Dal lake, the Hazratbal mosque is a majestic structure built using white marble. It is the one of the holiest Muslim shrines and houses an important relic, the Moi-e-Muqqadas, believed to be hair from the beard of Prophet Muhammad, which was brought from Medina a thousand years ago. Built in the 17th century, its architecture is a fusion of Kashmiri and Mughal styles.
2. Beemapally Mosque, Kerala
An important pilgrimage centre for Muslims, the Beemapally mosque is associated with the birth of Juma prayers in India. The mosque was named after ‘Beema Beevi’, a woman who was thought to have divine powers and was a member of the Prophet Mohammad's family. Her tomb is one of the major attractions in this place. A festival to commemorate Beema Beevi is conducted annually at Beemapally. This mosque is famous for the 10 day Urs, which begins on the first day of Jama dul Akbar every year, marking the death anniversary of Beema Beevi.
3. Jama Masjid, Delhi
Delhi's Jama Masjid is the largest mosque in India, with a capacity to accommodate over 25,000 people. Built using red sand stone and marble, its construction began in 1644 and is one of the last architectural marvels built during the reign of Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan.
4. Jama Masjid, Srinagar
Constructed around a central courtyard in an Indo-Saracenic architectural style, Srinagar's Jama Masjid is the largest mosque in Kashmir and one of the holiest sites in Islam. It was built in 1402 AD and is supported by 370 wooden pillars. The mosque was burnt to ashes thrice, but was re-built every time. Located in the middle of the bustling old city, the mosque offers a calm and serene respite from all the surrounding mayhem.
5. Taj-ul Masajid, Bhopal
The Taj-ul-Masjid, also known as the 'Crown of Mosques', is one of the largest mosques in Asia. Its construction began during the reign of the Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, by Nawab Shah Jahan Begum, but had to be halted due to the lack of funds. It was resumed by the efforts of Allama Mohammad Imran Khan Nadwi Azhari, and was finally completed in 1985. The building has a pink facade, with two 18-storey high octagonal minarets, marble domes and a grand hallway.
6. Sheikh Salim Chisti Dargah, Agra
Situated in Fatehpur Sikri, in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, the Sheikh Salim Chishti tomb was constructed by Akbar, in the memory of the Sufi saint. Legend has it that Akbar, who didn't have a son, was blessed by a son after he prayed to the Sufi saint. The beautiful marble mausoleum is considered to be one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture, and lies in the centre of the Jama Masjid at Akbar’s Courtyard.
7. Makkah Masjid, Hyderabad
With a capacity to house 10,000 worshipers at any given time, Makkah Masjid is one of the oldest and largest mosques in India. Also known as Mecca Masjid, the mosque is a grand structure located adjacent to the Charminar monument, built using granite by around 8,000 labourers. It is said that the bricks used in the constructions of its central arch were brought all the way from Mecca, in Saudi Arabia. Floral motifs and frescoes adorn the mosque and many of its arches have verses from the Quran inscribed on them.
8. Nagina Masjid, Agra
An outstanding piece of architecture built using white marble by the Mughal King, Shah Jahan, for the women of his harem, the Masjid also featured a luxurious bazaar, known as Mina Bazar. It was located down the road from where the women of his harem could purchase items they needed. The mosque was used by Shah Jahan's noblemen who used to attend the Darbar in the Diwan-e-Khas, in the evening.
9. Bara Imambara, Lucknow
When the province of Awadh was stuck by a famine in 1798, Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula commissioned the construction of a large prayer hall for the city, as a way to provide employment to the people. The magnificent building was constructed by the people of Lucknow, based on the design created by Kifayatullah, an architect from Delhi. The grand structure is the only one to have been built without any beams or pillars supporting it.
10. Adhai Din ka Jhonpra Mosque, Ajmer
Constructed on the remains of a Hindu temple and a Sanskrit college, this mosque was built by Qutub-ud-Din-Aibak, the founder of a slave dynasty, in 1199 AD. An early example of Indo-Islamic architecture, one of the most striking features of this mosque is the double-depth calligraphic inscriptions on its facade.