Nothing quite beats the feeling of awe as one gets a first glimpse as the thick wooden door opens and sees past the hallway into the courtyard square of Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid and sees the wooden spire framed through the lofty inner Gateway.
That I was with Hakim Sameer Hamdani was as they say ‘sone pe suhaga’ for he explained many of the architectural features and history.
This mosque has undergone many restorations and re-constructions and the present structure dates back to 1677. It was initially built by Sultan Sikandar and finished in 1402 and the plan has remained the same it’s a grand plan of four hallways or iwans around a central courtyard. This is based on the hypostyle hall, which is a main hallway and three side halls around a central courtyard. The hallways are supported on a flurry of columns as in Cordoba.
These massive deodar columns are held together by their Sheer weight and craftsmanship: no nails/iron strips or mortar is used to keep them in place on the stone bases
This plan was first introduced into the Islamic world in the 11th century and has remained popular. The idea of aisles around a central courtyard or sehan can be seen in Delhi’s first mosque – the Jami Masjid in the Qutub complex
However, the first complete hypostyle mosque was built by Muhammad bin Tughlaq in the city of Jahanpanah in Delhi, called Begumpur Mosque
The uniqueness of this mosque is the adaptation of the Persian hypostyle to indigenous architectural styles: so we see extensive use of wood which is incidentally why it had to be reconstructed so many times, as wood is inflammable.
The four gateways are capped by umbrella shaped finials and are clearly inspired by pagodas
The mosque also reminded me of the Naqsh e Jahan Square in Isfahan because of the market square around it.
Mughal Inscription outside the Jamia Masjid giving details of reconstruction activities.