Many mosques and dargahs in India have been standing tall for centuries, with beautiful yet intricately mastered domes and minarets that shed light over our country’s rich past.
While much of these revered spaces of worship had taken form during the Mughal reign, the architectural marvel and grandeur of these mosques, continue to mesmerise people irrespective of their faith.
From Jama Masjid in Delhi to Beemapally Mosque in Thiruvanathapuram, here’s a list of some of the most beautiful mosques ever made in India:
Hazratbal Shrine, Srinagar
Situated on the banks of the Dal lake and considered to be the holiest shrine in Kashmir, the Hazratbal Shrine is a revelation of its own. Revered for housing a relic, the Moi-e-Muqqadas, believed by many Muslims of Kashmir to be a hair of Prophet Muhammad, the beautiful pearl white shrine is the only domed mosque in Srinagar, set amidst the backdrop of snowcapped mountains.
Walking along the corridors of the sanctum sanctorum, one can’t help but observe the intricate handiwork that draw influences from Persian and Iranian architecture. Instilling a historic appeal and a sense of serenity within oneself, the mosque is one of the few religious shrines that have a single minaret.
Beemapally Dargah Shareef, Thiruvanathapuram
Located in Beemapally, a suburb in Kerala’s capital city, the Beemapally Dargah Shareef is home to the tomb of Syedunnisa Beema Beevi, a Muslim woman believed to have Prophet Mohammed’s lineage. The mosque is a revered space that attracts thousands of pilgrims from all faiths and castes.
An impressive building with imposing façade and soaring minarets, the shrine is one of the most beautifully constructed mosques in India and every year a festival is held in the honour of the mystic woman that sees scores of pilgrims and is followed with grand procession with bedecked elephants and the music of the panchavadyam (five instruments).
Jama Masjid, Delhi
Accommodating an estimated 25,000 devotees during prayer, the Jama Masjid in Delhi is the largest mosque in the country and is one of the most popular Islamic religious sites in the world. Constructed by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1644, the mosque with its impressively detailed minarets, domes, arches and doors along with four grand towers and three huge gates, is an inseparable part of Delhi tourism.
Made of red sandstone and white marbles, the floor of the mosque is covered with white and black ornamented marbles, making it look interestingly, like a Muslim prayer mat.
Sheikh Salim Chisti Dargah, Agra
One of the finest examples of Mughal architecture in the country, the tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti, a Sufi saint, was erected between the years 1580 and 1581, along with the imperial complex at Fatehpur Sikri. Enshrining the burial place of Salim Chisti, the mausoleum was constructed by Mughal Emperor Akbar in the honour of the saint, who foretold the birth of a male heir. His son, who later ascended the throne as Emperor Jahangir, was named Prince Salim after the Sufi saint.
Droves of devotees arrive at the shrine seeking blessings and fulfilment of their wishes from the saint around the year. Serving as a constant reminder to the saint of their wishes, people tie a thread on the marble screens of the main tomb building, which is part of the common belief.
Enclosed by painstakingly carved marble screens on all sides, the tomb is located in the centre of the main hall, with a single semi-circular dome. Along with an ornamented plinth comprising black and yellow marble mosaics arranged in geometric patterns, the intricately carved marble building has an ivory-like appearance.
Adhai Din ka Jhonpra Mosque, Ajmer
One of the oldest mosques in India, the Adhai Din ka Jhonpra mosque was built by Qutub-ud-Din-Aibak in 1199 AD. It’s said to be the oldest surviving monument in Ajmer.
An early example of Indo-Islamic architecture, one of the most striking features of the mosque is its double-depth calligraphic inscriptions etched its façade.
Taj-ul Masajid, Bhopal
Located in the city Bhopal, the literal meaning of Taj-ul-Masjid is ‘The Crown of Mosques’ and is supposedly one of the tallest mosques in Asia.Initially built during the reign of Nawab Shah Jahan Begum of Bhopal in the nineteenth century; the mosque had its final touches added in 1985.
With ancient motifs taken from the thirteenth century Syrian mosques that bedeck the entrance gates, the pink portico of the mosque is accompanied by 18-storey-high octagonal minarets along with domes made of marble.
Makkah Masjid, Hyderabad
Another one of the oldest mosques in India, this religious site was constructed by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, who was the fifth ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty. A plan of architectural genius that allows one to view from the top of the Charminar in Hyderabad, Makkah Masjid or Mecca Masjid is located close to the historic landmarks of Chowmahalla Palace, Laad Bazaar.
The bricks that were used for constructing the central arch of the mosque are believed to be brought all the way from the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. With the main prayer hall rising around 75 feet above the ground, this mosque can accommodate around 10,000 people at a time.
With five passageways, arched galleries and octagonal balconies, four minarets attached with a small dome above each, the mosque is beautifully designed with floral motifs and frescoes and many of the arches are inscribed with Quranic verses.
Nagina Masjid, Agra
Also known as the Gem Mosque, the Nagina Masjid is an ethereal structure in the northwestern corner in the premises of Agra Fort. Built by Shah Jahan during the seventeenth century, the beguiling mosque is a brilliant example of Mughal architectural marvels. Built in pure white marble, the main hall radiates a pristine aura basking in the sun.
With three domes on its top and well-adorned arches, the mosque showcases very simple yet elegant engineering, built for the ladies of the royal family as a private mosque, employing the architectural ‘bangladar’ feature.
Bara Imambara, Lucknow
Considered to be India’s largest unsupported structure, the mosque was built by the Nawab Asaf-Ud-Dowhala Bara Imambara or Asafi Imambara, who was the fourth Nawab of Awadh. Built for a noble cause, this engineering marvel is located in the Lucknow and is counted among the buildings with stunning architecture in the country. Commenced in 1784, the construction work of the holy building took 14 years to complete.
Entirely built of Lakhnawi bricks (small size bricks) and lime plaster, interestingly no wood or metal was used to construct this building. The most striking aspect of the mosque is its arched roof of the central halls, which are constructed without using a single beam or girder.