Jama Masjid

Getty Images/Flickr Open

Jama Masjid

Top choice in Old Delhi (Shahjahanabad)

A beautiful pocket of calm at the heart of Old Delhi's mayhem, the capital's largest mosque is built on a 10m elevation. It can hold a mind-blowing 25,000 people. The marble and red-sandstone structure, known also as the ‘Friday Mosque’, was Shah Jahan’s final architectural triumph, built between 1644 and 1658. The four watchtowers were used for security. There are two minarets standing 40m high, one of which can be climbed for amazing views.

There are numerous entrance gates, but only Gate 1 (south side), Gate 2 (east), and Gate 3 (north) allow access to the mosque for visitors. The eastern gate was originally for imperial use only. Entrance is free, but you have to buy a ₹300 ticket if you are carrying a camera of any sort (including a camera phone), even if you don't intend to take photos. Once inside, you can buy a separate ₹100 ticket to climb the 121 steps up the narrow southern minaret (notices say that unaccompanied women are not permitted). From the top of the minaret, you can see how architect Edwin Lutyens incorporated the mosque into his design of New Delhi – the Jama Masjid, Connaught Place and Sansad Bhavan (Parliament House) are in a direct line.

Visitors should dress conservatively and remove their shoes before entering the mosque, though you can carry your shoes with you inside if you wish to leave from a different gate, or are worried about losing them (many locals do this).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Old Delhi (Shahjahanabad) attractions

1. Sisganj Gurdwara

0.37 MILES

The icing-sugar-white 18th-century Sisganj Gurdwara marks the martrydom site of the ninth Sikh guru, Tegh Bahadur, executed by Aurangzeb in 1675 for…

2. Chandni Chowk

0.38 MILES

Old Delhi’s main drag is lined by Jain, Hindu and Sikh temples, plus a church, with the Fatehpuri Masjid at one end. Tree-lined and elegant in Mughal…

3. Bird Hospital


The Digambara Jain Temple complex houses an unusual example of the Jain devotion to preserving all life in the form of this unique bird hospital, with…

4. Sunehri Masjid


Built in 1721, this mosque has gilded domes, hence its name. In 1739, the Persian invader Nadir Shah stood on the roof and watched his soldiers massacre…

5. Digambara Jain Temple

0.42 MILES

Opposite the Red Fort is the red sandstone Digambara Jain Temple, built in 1658. Interestingly, it houses a bird hospital established in 1956 to further…

6. Lahore Gate

0.48 MILES

The main entrance to the Red Fort is hidden by a defensive bastion built in front by Shah Jahan's son Aurangzeb. During the struggle for independence,…

8. Chatta Chowk

0.52 MILES

In the Red Fort, this imperial bazaar used to cater to royal women and glitter with silk and jewels for sale. Today's wares are rather more mundane…