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Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrSultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque at Bandar Seri Begawan, Negara Brunei Darussalam, is considered as one of the most beautiful mosques in the Asia Pacific . The construction of the mosque was completed on 26th September 1958. It is named after Omar Ali Saifuddin III, the 28th Sultan of Brunei Darussalam, the country is ruled by Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, the 29th Sultan of Brunei.
HistoryPrior to the building of the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, there was no proper mosque in the capital city, then known as ‘Pekan Brunei’, and was named Bandar Seri Begawan in 1971 by Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien. The only mosque in Pekan Brunei at the time was built of timber and was called ‘Masjid Marbut Pak Tungal’. The mosque was built during the reign of Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien’s grandfather, Sultan Mohammad Jamalul Alam II, the 26th Sultan of Brunei, and was located close to the place where the present-day, magnificent mosque is situated. The roof of the mosque was made of palm fronds and could accommodate 500 worshipers at a time. Brunei Darussalam, which was a regional maritime power before, was among one of the poorer nations in the world at the end of the First World War.
With the discovery of oil and gas in Padang Berawa (wild pigeon’s field), in July 1928, things changed dramatically. The country became one of the prized British colonies in the Southeast. The town of Padang Berawa, where the first well-started production of oil began, has since been named ‘Seria’. In 1967, Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien ascended the throne upon the death of his elder brother who had no heir. He was well-educated and a devout Muslim. He started the construction of the mosque. He was also responsible for the construction of many other modern buildings and is called the ‘Modern Architect’ of Brunei.
ConstructionThe Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque was built between 1954 and 1958. The mosque reflects the influence of Islamic, particularly Moghul, and Italian architectural styles in its construction. The mosque was designed by A. O. Coltman of Booty and Edwards Chartered Architects of UK, based in Malaysia at the time.
Located in an artificial lagoon at Kampong Ayer (water village, also referred to as the “Venice of the East”), the large dome of the mosque, covered in pure gold, is a prominent landmark in the capital city. The main minaret of the mosque, reaching a height of 52 meters, is constructed from marble and affords a beautiful view of the city from the top. The building is surrounded by trees and beautifully designed and maintained flower gardens. The prayer hall of the mosque has arches supported by marble columns and the walls, having stained glass windows, are adorned with beautiful carvings. The prayer hall can accommodate 3,000 worshipers at a time.
In the lagoon, in front of the mosque, is a barge constructed as a replica of the Mahligai Barge, a 16th-century barge used by the then-Sultan, Bolkiah, in his maritime exploits. A marble bridge leads to the barge. The barge was built in order to commemorate the 1,400th anniversary of the revelation of Quran to Prophet Mohammad. Another bridge connects the mosque to Kampong Ayer, a village of 30,000 inhabitants built entirely on stilts. Magnificently lit, the mosque looks stunning in the night. The marble for the construction were imported from Italy, the granite came from Shanghai, stained glass and the chandeliers came from England, and the carpets from Saudi Arabia and Belgium. The huge doors of the mosque were made from timber imported from the Philippines.
Visiting the MosqueThe mosque is open to visitors from Sundays through to Wednesdays. Visitors are let in between 8:00 AM and 12:00 noon, 2:00 PM and 3:00 PM, and between 5:00 PM and 6:00 PM. It is closed for visitors on Fridays and is sometimes open on Saturdays. Visitors have to remove their footwear before entering the mosque and their head and dress will have to be covered by robes issued at the mosque. The interior of the mosque cannot be photographed by visitors.
The Brunei International Airport is well connected to nearby international airports like Bangkok, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur, as well as others. The mosque is nearly 8 kilometers by road from the airport. The cheapest mode of travel around Bandar Seri Begawan is by public buses which charge passengers $ 1.00 USD (equivalent of S$1 ($0.74)) no matter where you board or alight. There are also tourist taxis that can ferry you around. However, it is better to bargain and finalize a price before you hire one.
Pusat Belia, APEK Utama Hotel, and KH Resthouse are among the budget hotels in the capital charging anywhere from $ 10 USD to $ 30 USD pp/n. There is a wide choice of mid-range hotels costing $ 100 USD a night and upwards. Empire Hotel and Country Club and the Radisson Hotel Brunei Darussalam are higher-end accommodations and are rated among the best hotels in the world.
Negara Brunei Darussalam has been an Islamic monarchy for the past 40 years and has recently adopted the Shariah Law. Liquor is strictly banned and offences like adultery are punishable by whipping and stoning. Its massive oil resources have allowed it to spare the unique rainforests within its borders, unlike most of the neighboring countries that have resorted to lumbering.
Other Places of InterestIn Bandar Seri Begawan, the places that ought to be visited are Jame’ Asri Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah; another fabulous mosque built to commemorate the reigning Sultan, Kampong Ayer; the largest water village in Southeast Asia, Istana Nurul Iman; the palace of the Sultan and also the largest lived-in palace in the world, the Royal Regalia Museum, and the Brunei Museum.
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Author: jackmartis. Last updated: Apr 12, 2015