City Hangout – Jama Masjid Courtyard, Gurgaon
The soothing winter space.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
When one hears the words “Jama Masjid”, one instinctively thinks of Old Delhi’s Mughal-era mosque. That red sandstone monolith by Emperor Shahjahan is among the world’s greatest monuments. The twilight illuminates some parts of it most poignantly.
The area remains so crowded, and the surrounding marketplace is so packed during the evening, that it is difficult to concentrate on the setting sun and the beauty that it casts on the mosque.
Now consider the Jama Masjid in Gurgaon in the Greater Delhi Region – the Friday Mosque in Sadar Bazar. It has nothing of the history and grandeur of its Purani Dilli cousin. But the sunset ambience here is no less exceptional. This evening, the round red sun is looking like an asharfi (gold coin). For the moment, it is positioned right next to the mosque’s pointed minaret, filling up the empty courtyard with the light of the evening, the colours of which are difficult to describe (because the air is too smoggy!). However, it wasn’t the case some evenings ago, when parts of the sunset sky were stained with red and pink, while other parts were light blue, with a few brush strokes of utter blackness towards the corners. With the departure of the smog, one will again experience the full intensity of the evening’s multicoloured hues in the mosque’s courtyard. To spend a few minutes in this little space takes one away from the hustle and bustle of shopping malls and housing estates.
The mosque’s individuality is independent of the dusk hour. The arched openings that line the corridors on both sides of the courtyard face the chaotic Sadar Bazar. Curiously, the noise from the market doesn’t interfere with the tranquillity inside. As you wander extensively about the building, you will inevitably discover that the masjid has a series of discreet staircases connecting it to the bazar.
Dozens of shops attached to the mosque’s exterior firmly connect Jama Masjid with the area’s daily life, making its imperial aloofness a mere illusion.
Visit in the early evening, around 4pm, when the sun starts to set behind the minars.
Light of the courtyard