Taj Mahal Mosque

The Mosque

Wherever the time of prayer overtakes you, pray; that is a mosque. Mohammad.

The Quran says that places of worship are to be built near monuments or mausoleums. The grand Taj Mahal mosque, or Masjid, in Agra, India is no exception to the rule. Built to face the holy city of Mecca, it is one of two structures that flank the magnificent Taj Mahal. It is on the western side of the Taj Mahal. Another building, known as the guest house, is on the eastern side. The mosque and the guest house, or Response, are similar in style to the Taj Mahal. The whole area has architectural balance because of this similarity of style. UNESCO lists the complex as a world heritage site since 1983. The Taj Mahal and its surrounding complex is also on the list of the Seven New Wonders of the World.

The mosque at the Taj Mahal stands on a sandstone platform. The walkways are made of interlocked sandstone bricks in octagonal and rectangular shapes. Red sandstone and white marble adorn the it. The pattern of red and white continues throughout the interior of the mosque. A beautiful honeycomb pattern in the same colors adorns the ceiling. Painted on the walls are passages from the Sura 91. Sura are chapters in the Quran and means 'writing.' That means that there is actual writing on the walls for the faithful. The writing is unusual in that in appears similar in size to a person praying on their knees on the floor.

Well-crafted domed doorways called Iwan open into every area of the mosque. Interweaving floral designs adorn the dados over each arch. Over five hundred thirty red velvet prayer mats decorate the smooth tile floor. On the roof are three large marble domes. An upside down lotus decorates each one of them. In turn the lotuses have gold finials on top of them. A marble chhatri adorns each corner of the roof. A chhatri is like a kiosk with a dome on its roof. These domes have a marble veneer, or coating.

There are other fine details that set the mosque apart from the guest house and the Taj Mahal. Two of these unique features are the Mihrab and Minbar. The Mihrab is a three walled niche in the wall that points in the direction of Mecca. It is set off by a white marble archway. Decorating the top corner of the Mihrab is a painted disc with quotes from Sura 112. The Minbar in the Taj Mahal mosque consists of three marble steps and a platform. From the Minbar, the iman or priest can deliver a speech.

In front of the Taj Mahal sits a long, rectangular reflecting pool. Those who come to the mosque use it to freshen up before answering the call to prayer.