General view of the Jumma Musjid, Delhi. .
Photographer: Impey, Eugene Clutterbuck
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph from an album of 80 albumen prints taken by Eugene Clutterbuck Impey. The largest mosque in India, the Jama Masjid in Delhi, took 14 years to build. It was begun in 1644 and completed in 1658 and a labour force of 5000 workmen was reputedly required for its construction. It was the last great architectural venture of Emperor Shah Jahan (reigned 1628-58), the most prolific builder of the Mughal dynasty. Shah Jahan moved his capital to Delhi from Agra in 1638, and embarked on a programme of building a new city called Shahjahanabad (now known as Old Delhi). Between this new city and the river Yamuna, he built his fort-palace, the Red Fort, and a kilometre to the west of it he built his massive mosque capable of holding a congregation of 25000 people. Originally it was called Masjid-i-Jahan-nama, or Mosque of the Visible World. The structure is more austere and simple than Shah Jahan's secular architecture. Approached via broad flights of steps its three gateways lead into a huge courtyard with a central basin and fountain. The gateway to the east was reserved for the royal family. The main building is topped by three onion-shaped domes of white marble striated with thin strips of black marble, and is flanked by two minarets, 130 ft high. In the northwest corner is a small pavilion containing relics of the Prophet. The imam of the mosque is a descendant of the original imam appointed by Shah Jahan.