Situated in the ancient town of Old Delhi, the Jama or Jami Masjid is the final architectural extravaganza of the Mughal Emperor, Shahjahan. This monument was built between 1644 and 1658 by five thousand artisans. Originally called the Masjid-i-Jahanuma, or "mosque commanding view of the world", this magnificent structure stands on the Bho Jhala, one of the two hills of the old Mughal capital city of Shahjahanabad. On the east, this monument faces the Lal Quila (Red Fort) and has three gateways, four towers and two minarets. Constructed of alternating vertical strips of red sandstone and white marble, the Jama Masjid is the largest and perhaps the most magnificent mosque in India.
Broad flights of steps lead up to the imposing gateways in the north and the south. The main eastern entrance, probably used by the emperors, remains closed on most days of the week. The main prayer hall on the west side, fronted by a series of high cusped arches and topped with marble domes, houses a niche in a wall that shelters the prayer leader. Worshippers use this hall on most days but on Fridays and other holy days, the courtyard is full of devotees offering namaaz.
Near the north gate of the mosque stands a cupboard containing a collection of Muhammad's relics - Korans written on deerskin, a red beard-hair of the prophet, his sandals and his footprint, embedded in a marble slab.