Masjid-i Jami
Delhi, India
Firuz Shah built the Jami Masjid (1354) in Delhi's fifth city, Firuzabad. Located in his citadel, Kotla Firuz Shah , it was Delhi's largest mosque at that time. It acquired greater significance in 1398 when Timur after defeating Muhammad Tughluq and sacking Delhi offered his Friday prayers at the mosque.

The mosque is also noted for the Ashokan pillar (lat) that was mounted on the roof of Hawa Mahal located north of the mosque. The pillar serves as a symbolic minaret, known as the Minar-i Zarin (Golden minaret), since the pillar is physically located on Hawa Mahal, which is an independent structure.

This two-storied mosque displays its main entrance to the north rather than the usual eastern approach because of the River Jumna that borders the eastern perimeter. The lower storey is rectangular in plan and consists of a solid rubble core. Around this core is a perimeter of cells that open out into vaulted bays. The bays form a continuous corridor around the lower storey with arched openings that open to the outside. These cells could either have been workshops, the income from which served to help maintain the mosque or cells for a madrasa..

A monumental domed portal, located on the north side, articulates the main entrance to the worship area located on the upper story. The portal extends 20'-3" from the north wall and is 27' wide. The interior chamber measures 14'-6" square. It is constructed of rubble and ashlar walls faced with plaster. On each of the three sides of the portal is an arched entrance and stairs.

Apart from the entrance portal, the western qibla wall and portions of the north and south façade, nothing remains of the worship area. The resultant open platform measures 154' x 131'. However, archeological evidence reveals the presence of a vaulted enclosure around a courtyard (sahn). If the reconstruction based on this evidence is accurate, then the north, south and east side of the mosque had rows of domed bays, three deep. The prayer hall on the west side at the qibla wall was two-bays deep. However, the Sirat-i Firuz (Chronicles of Firuz) includes a plan of the mosque that suggests only a single row of bays on the east, north and south sides and the prayer hall as three bays deep and eight bays long. At the center of the courtyard was a pool, which was covered by an octagonal dome supported by eight square pillars on which was carved the text of the emperor's memoirs. Because the pillars are no longer extant, claims of the existence of the inscribed memoirs are found only in historical treatises.

Only portions of the Jami Masjid's north and south walls survive, and the east wall has disappeared. The elevation of the north and south walls were similar. At the lower storey level is a row of arched openings that lead into a corridor and cells that were possibly workshops or madrasa. Another row of smaller arched opening run along the upper storey of north and south elevation. The arches are contained within rectangular recessed frames. Above this is an additional row of similar arched openings. These were probably clerestories to admit light into the vaulted enclosure that surrounded the courtyard.

The west qibla wall elevation displays a row of arched openings at the lower level but is solid above. Only a rectangular section protrudes on the west wall to mark the location of the central mihrab within. In the interior, the west wall is divided into eleven bays, the five central bays containing niches with mihrabs. Remains of the roof structure on the north end indicate that the west prayer hall had a higher roof elevation than the enclosure on the north and south.

Built into the qibla wall is a secret passage that could be accessed by stairs in the northwest and southwest corners. This is the first time a corridor of this type has been found in a mosque and its precise function is unknown, however it became a common feature of mosques later in the sultanate. It is only 2'-6" wide and is thought to have been built to provide a secluded pathway for women since the corridor is connected to the Hawa Mahall.

The Archaeological Society of Delhi's 1847 report indicates that an elevated apartment, approximately six feet above the prayer hall floor, existed in the three bays on the north end of the prayer hall and three bays at the south end. These apartments that are believed to have joined with the women's (zanana) gallery have entirely disappeared. The upper apartments may have served as the maqsuras (enclosed seating area for the sultan).



Sources:

McKibben, William Jeffrey. 1988. The Architecture of Firuz Shah Tughluq. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University Microfilms International, 97-118.

Alfieri, Bianca Maria. 2000. Islamic Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent. London: Laurence King Publishing, 41- 43.

Rani, Abha. 1991. Tughluq Architecture of Delhi. Delhi: Bharati Prakashan, 25-28.

"Feroze Shah Kotla." Indian Travel Portal. http://delhi.indiantravelportal.com/monuments/feroze-shah-kotla.html. [Accessed February 15, 2007]
Location
Firuzabad, Delhi, India
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Associated Names
Part of Site
Events
1354
Style Periods
Variant Names
Masjid-i Jami
Masjid-i Firoz Shah Kotla
Variant
Masjid-i Kotla Feroze Shah
Variant
Jami Masjid Firuz Shah
Variant
Friday Mosque of Firuz Shah
Variant
Building Usages
mosque
religious