The architecturally impressive Jama Masjid stands proudly on a plinth in the heart of an energetic and traditional bazaar. Take time to admire the exquisite Mughal artwork and craftsmanship while you mingle with devout pilgrims. The Jama Masjid is one of Agra’s oldest mosques; Emperor Shah Jahan built it in 1648 in honor of his daughter Jahanara Begum. Its name means Friday Mosque, which is a reference to the large congregation held each Friday.
Enter the mosque through one of the five arched gateways reached via staircases. On the eastern side of the mosque is the main entrance, adorned with carved arches and pillars. The gateways lead to a vast courtyard, which has a capacity for about 10,000 people. Marvel at how the atmosphere changes from the chaos of the surrounding bazaar to a feeling of peace and tranquility. Worshippers wash their hands and feet in the central tank before prayer time.
Go to the western side of the courtyard to see a striking prayer hall crowned by three domes. Check out the domes’ inverted lotus decorations and zigzagging white-marble designs. Peek inside to see an attractive pulpit and the mihrab, an alcove that worshippers face during prayer time. Stroll through the arcades that frame the courtyard, where pilgrims find shade from the afternoon sun. Lining the walls of the arcades are Mughal-era paintings, inscriptions and colorfully decorated tiles.
The mosque sits amid Agra’s lively Kinari Bazar district, near the Agra Fort train station and about a 15-minute drive from Agra Cantonment station. While here be sure to wander the maze-like lanes of Kinari Bazar to discover shops overflowing with colorful fabrics, jewelry, saris, spices and more. You might also want to visit nearby Agra Fort, a magnificent fortified citadel built by Emperor Akbar in the mid-1500s.
The Jama Masjid is open daily. Admission is free, although a fee is applicable if you wish to enter with a camera. Remember to remove your shoes before entering and dress appropriately with no shorts, short dresses or uncovered shoulders.