After having visited Hazratbal, we thought of going to the Jamia Masjid (Mosque) at Srinagar. However, our driver had some reservations. He informed that the Mosque is at the centre of the old part of the city and is a disturbed area. Cannot be considered to be very safe. Then he remembered that it was a Thursday and not a Friday. Fridays are special when the area is fully crowded for the prayers at the Mosque. (Before I could make out a post, there was a news that a 300 year old “Dastagir Sahib”a holy shrine of the Sufi order, went into flames under mysterious circumstances. To contain the violence that followed, curfew has been clamped through out Kashmir. Even people have been restrained from offering their Friday prayers at Jamia Mosque on the 29th June) Therefore the driver obliged us and took us through the streets of the old city. From an otherwise thinly populated areas we were proceeding towards high density area.
The houses and buildings on our way had a an old world charm and we could not resist clicking our cameras. Soon we noticed a tall tower at a distance resembling that of a church but then our driver corrected us saying that it is the Jamia Masjid.
We were now crossing a main road to go down. The mosque was at a lower elevation and now it was in full view. The main entrance is from the Southern side. The mosque seems to have had entrances from North and East as well. There is a broad lane surrounding the mosque with show rooms and shops on one side stocking items ranging from cloth, utensils, handicrafts and other domestic needs. It is said that the market here is cheaper as they primarily cater to the needs of the local population.
The arched doorway is huge but then the pagoda type superstructure resembles that of a Buddhist shrine. There are no domes and minarets which we generally find associated with mosques. Practically all mosques in Kashmir are devoid of domes. The mosque is supposed to be a unique representation of the Indo-Saracenic architecture.
On entering through the main doorway, we find a magnificent square courtyard with well maintained lawns and ornamental trees. Towards the West is the main prayer hall wherefrom the Imam (Head Priest) directs the congregation. Just in front of the main prayer area there is a large square pool with flowing water used for ritual washing of hands before entering the hall for praying. There is a LED display board inside which shows the exact timings for the 5 times a day prayers. This main complex is surrounded by a very broad corridor on the other three sides with fully carpeted flooring.
The Jamia Masjid is located in the Nowhata area of Srinagar. This was got constructed by the local ruler Sultan Sikandar in the year 1400. Later extensions were carried out by his son Jain-ul-Abidin. As said earlier the architecture is of Indo-Saracenic type. As a matter of fact it is an amalgam of Gothic, Mughal and Indian styles. Here they have used fully baked bricks for the whole construction. It has a wooden ceiling over which corrugated tin sheets have been placed angularly to facilitate easy clearance of snow during winters. the ceiling is supported by 370 very tall pillars made of pine timber. The mosque has a capacity to accommodate a congregation of 33333 people under its roof. Unfortunately this mosque too had to suffer great amount of loss due to fire which broke out at least thrice so far. The last renovation after a major fire was carried out by a Hindu ruler Maharaja Pratap Singh during the later part of 16th century.
Amongst all the mosques we have seen in India, this one is unique and justly called the pride of Srinagar.