Taj Mahal Mosque
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe wondrous monument, the Taj Mahal, built by Shah Jahan as a monument for his third wife, Mumtaj Mahal, is at Agra in India. There are two smaller, fabulous structures on either side of it that serve to increase the splendor of the mausoleum while maintaining the symmetry of the complex. Both the buildings serve two different purposes. The building on the left is a mosque, while the one on the right is a guest house referred to as the “Mihman Khana” (a place of assembly for worshipers). It is also referred to as the “Jawab”. The complex is a UNESCO Heritage Site.
Architecture and ConstructionThe mosque was built as it is mandatory in Islam to have a place of worship close to a monument or a mausoleum. Both buildings, being mirror images of each other, appear the same when viewed from the outside and are as exquisite in construction and workmanship as the mausoleum. They are constructed in red sandstone with white marble used for the inlaying and the domes.
Just like the monument, the construction of the mosque is done in a combination of the Ottoman, Turkish, Islamic, and Indian architectural styles. The architectural teams that designed and supervised the construction of the buildings in the complex were led by Ustad (Maestro) Ahmed Lahauri. It is, however, believed that Isa Mohammed of the school of Mimar Sinan , the famed Ottoman architect, had a big hand in the construction of the mosque. The mosque is built very much on the lines of the Jama Masjid, also built by Shah Jahan.
The mosque faces west in the direction of the Islamic holy city of Mecca, and is 210 feet in length and 79 feet wide, and is built on a slightly raised platform. There is a pool in front of the mosque that serves for ablutions for the worshipers. The entrance to the mosque, the Iwan, has three cusped arches. On either side of the main arched-entrance, the pishtaq (the formal gateway to the Iwan), are smaller arches. Between the three arches are four pinnacles. On the roof, above the three arches, are domes finished in white marble with gilded, inverted lotus surmounting. On each of the four corners of the mosque are chhatris, or small pavilions with an umbrella-like kiosk, finished in white marble.
The interior of the mosque, often referred to as the Isa Mohammed Mosque, is markedly different from that of the Jawab.
Within the mosque is an octagonal niche for a Mihrab (an indentation within the mosque indicating the direction of the Quibla or Mecca). To the right of the Minhrab is a slightly raised platform from where the preacher addresses the faithful. Like the Jama Masjid in Delhi, the floor of the prayer hall is finished with a stone that appears velvety in color. There are 569 clearly defined prayer mats on the floor. Inscribed on the walls are quotations taken from the Sura (by the Sun) 91. The calligraphy is as elaborate as it is on the monument and increases in size with the height, making it appear similar in size to the reader on the floor. Within the mosque is a stone-enclosed place where the remains of Shah Jahan’s beloved Mumtaj Mahal were kept before they were laid to rest in the Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal has been described by the renowned Indian Nobelist, Guru Rabindranath Tagore, as ‘a teardrop on the face of eternity’. The buildings surrounding it, including the mosque, contribute much to the grandeur of the monument.
Travel and accommodationThousands of tourists, both Indian and foreigners, visit the Taj Mahal every day. Only 124 miles away from Delhi and 224 miles away from the state's capital city, Lucknow, it is well-connected by road. It is connected by flight from Delhi and Mumbai, five days a week by the national carrier, Air India. With two other UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the city (Fatehpur Sikri and the Agra Fort), travelers are advised to book their flight tickets well in advance because of the great demand for them. Agra is also connected to the major cities in India by rail. For local transportation, shared auto rickshaws will prove to be the most economical and the quickest means of travel. Hotels in Agra are equipped to accommodate all classes of tourists from the budget-class upwards. But like the flight tickets, it is advisable to make your booking in advance, particularly on Indian and international holidays.
The monument is open to visitors from 7 AM to 6 PM on all days except on Fridays. It is also open for night viewing on the full moon days and the two nights before and after it. Entry fee is charged at ₨ 20 ($0.32) for Indian citizens, ₨ 510 ($8.16) for citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC countries, and at ₨ 750 ($12) for foreigners. Entry for children below the age of fifteen is free regardless of the citizenship. Other places of interest in Agra are Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah, Chini ka Rauza, Jama Masjid, Tomb of Akbar the Great, and Mehtab Bagh, besides others.
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Author: jackmartis. Last updated: Feb 23, 2015