This massive mosque is visible from afar and is hundreds of years old, still actively attended by thousands of devotees every week.
It is literally, the beating heart of Old Delhi, which itself is a nice place to get in touch with life in India - many tourists have the absolutely wrong perception that India is a "less developed" country and expressed the same openly before guides and holiday planners, but yet a few minutes spent walking around with locals would tell you whatever trades they're doing today have been done for hundreds of years... and likewise thousands of people have attended Friday Prayers at Jama Masjid since it was built.
While last year there were some reviews mentioning unfriendly gatekeepers and touts, there were none of the sort when I visited with Dinesh, a senior gentleman who served as my tour guide but we soon had very lengthy and respectful conversations about Muslim traditions and culture thanks to previous exposure with friends and relatives in Malaysia. Jama Masjid is the perfect place for such discussions and we met no small number of Muslim pilgrims as well during the day.
It's rare to find a place (and people) that appreciate my enjoyment and knowledge of the Islamic way of life and I did enjoy my time spent here.
As for those who find the mosque "nothing of spectacular value" I respectfully disagree. It doesn't have 4 plots of Mughal gardens arrayed in front, it's set on a hill with a fortress-like curtain wall, so it's not as visually impressive from a distance as say, the Taj Mahal.
But culturally, Old Delhi may not exist without this place in its core. It's part of the local way of life, and certainly is a big part of Delhi's history as well.
Standing near where the imam would stand leading the prayers, you can definitely feel the absolute power of the place where up to 20,000 can fit in the courtyard at once.
And so on the way out I told the gatekeepers and security staff that I loved the mosque, and they were all pleasantly surprised at the compliments. It does take a bit of understanding and knowledge of the Islam culture to fully appreciate the symbolism and grandeur of the place.
For me I wanted my tour of India to be very in touch with the local people, learn how they lived, where they went, what they believed in - Jama Masjid was definitely one of the top highlights of the trip, and while I was initially hesitant to visit it out of respect for the place (I am a non-Muslim), I was very thankful of the kind welcome and the personalized guidance from Dinesh the tour guide provided by GeTS Holidays.
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