Friday, June 15, 2012

Jama Masjid - Sight of the Week

Jama Masjid was the first major site that I saw with Team Ozzie and Pancham.  Located in the extremely bustling Old Delhi, it is the largest mosque in India and can hold 25,000 people. It was commissioned by Shah Jahan, the same ruler who commissioned the Taj Mahal.  Shah Jahan and I can be friends because I like large, grandiose buildings, too.

Team Ozzie, Pancham and me climbing up the steps towards the East entrance

A few things about seeing Jama Masjid and other major Indian tourists sites:

1. If you're a foreigner, you're going to pay a higher entrance fee - With the exception of the Taj Mahal, most places to visit are 300 rupees or less. Many are free. While I was there, the exchange rate was a little over 50 rupees to the U.S. dollar (It's now 55 rupees!), so that means no more than $6USD. Also I didn't care that I was charged more because I think it's important that these beautiful sights be accessible to all Indians.

2. Even if it may be free to enter, you may have to pay a fee to bring in your camera and take pictures.

3. Ladies, bring a scarf with you just in case. You never know when it's best to have your head covered.  

For Jama Masjid, women are required to be covered, preferably wearing long loose clothing that covers shoulders and legs. I was already very conservatively dressed for the day (I am going to write about dressing in India at some point), but the men at the entrance will require women to wear these unflatteringly large robe-like things to cover up. They will tell you that you need to pay them money. Like Nancy Reagan says, "JUST SAY NO" and walk on through. 

Here I am in all of my glory.....

That's my travel bag peeking out. 

I think Ms. J of Team Ozzie got a worse looking one than me, so I don't feel so bad. 

As with most mosques, Jama Masjid requires you to take off your shoes when entering. The problem here is that Jama Masjid is open-air meaning that there's lots of bird poop to avoid. Be careful! I was wishing for some socks at different moments . 

Jama Masjid is an impressive place, and I am sure an inspiring setting for Muslim worshippers to pray and to attend services on Fridays. 
The courtyard and main prayer hall of Jama Masjid

One of the gates 

Pool in the middle of the courtyard

With many mosques and Islamic architecture in general, it's all about the details. When you get close, you really see the craftsmanship. 

After taking in the courtyard, we entered the main prayer hall. 
A man at the mihrab, the central prayer area facing Mecca

I had to remind myself that mosques aren't open just for prayer and worship, but also as a place where people can gather to talk and relax. This man was definitely relaxing (more like sleeping, but that's cool). 

We spied the tower, which requires paying an extra fee for access. We'd heard that the walk to the top was worth it. 

What we didn't realize was that it was a long, long way up! There's barely any room for more than two people on the stair case, and it's dark and winding. I was starting to get pretty dizzy, and it seemed like the stairs could go on forever.  

Unfortunately, all of these stairs didn't help because all of a sudden my right leg started to cramp like you wouldn't believe. I'm a fairly active person, so I wasn't hurting from the climbing. Team Ozzie and I realized that I was suffering from dehydration. That make sense because I'd had a rough first day in Delhi two days before where I barely drank water for hours (That wasn't on purpose; I'm a water fiend). I was determined to make it to the top, and I did.

I have to say that the view of Old Delhi and beyond was worth the trek up to the top. Delhi really doesn't have a skyline to speak of, so you can really see much of the city from Jama Masjid's tower.

Was Jama Masjid worth the attempted shakedown for extra money, dodging bird poop barefoot, and steep climb up its tower? I'd say yes.

Have you ever had to go above and beyond to truly enjoy a visit to a major sight? 


Erin said...

I love the robe and that you were brave enough to post a picture! So far I haven't had to go above and beyond to enjoy a major sight (I feel kinda bad about that; must get out more!) but I did convince my better half to travel all the way to China so I could hold a panda. I guess that was really about him going above and beyond ;)

Try Anything Once Terri said...

@ Erin - Thanks! I think the robes are downright hilarious that it would not do them justice to not be exposed to the world. :) I think it's great when our partners can indulge our travel desires. Your husband's a good guy.

Monique said...

The pictures are so beautiful. And let me just say you ROCKED that robe. I dare you to step out in that in NYC.

Try Anything Once Terri said...

@Monique - You are too much. I let them have their robe back. I couldn't deny anyone else the pleasure of wearing something like that.


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