Makkah Masjid, Hyderabad
One of the oldest mosques in Hyderabad and India, the Makkah Masjid is also one of the largest Islamic centers of worship in India. The bricks of the mosque are said to have been built with the soil brought by the rulers of Qutub Shahi Dynasty. The construction was completed in 1694 and is built in a highly ornamental Indo-Islamic style.
Makkah Masjid is one of the oldest masjids in Hyderabad and one of the biggest in India. It is a listed heritage building located close to the historic landmarks of Charminar, Chowmahalla Palace and Laad Bazaar. Muhammed Quli Qutub Shah commissioned bricks to be made from earth brought from Makkah and inducted them into the construction of the central arch of the masjid, which explains its name.
Makkah Masjid was built during the reign of Sultan Muhammed Qutub Shah, the 6th Qutub Shahi Sultan of Hyderabad. The work began in 1617 and continued during the reigns of Abdullah Qutub Shah and Abul Hassan Tana Shah and was finally completed in 1694 by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. It took 77 years to come up as the magnificent edifice we see today.
Like many other ancient buildings in the city, the masjid is an awe-inspiring granite giant. The main hall of the masjid is 75 feet high, 220 feet wide and 180 feet long, big enough to accommodate ten thousand worshippers at a time. Fifteen graceful arches support the roof of the main hall, five on each of the three sides. A sheer wall rises on the fourth side to provide mehrab. The three arched facades have been carved from a single piece of granite, which took five years to quarry. More than 8,000 workers were employed to build this grand masjid. Muhammed Quli Qutub Shah himself laid the foundation stone of the masjid. “It is about 50 years since they began to build a splendid pagoda in the town which will be the grandest in all India when it is completed. The size of the stone is the subject of special accomplishment, and that of a niche, which is its place for prayer, is an entire rock of such enormous size that they spent five years in quarrying it, and 500 to 600 men were employed continually on its work. It required still more time to roll it up on to conveyance by which they brought it to the pagoda; and they took 1400 oxen to draw it”, said Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, the French explorer, in his travelogue.
As the tourist gets past the main gateway and enters a huge plaza, a large man-made pond of bluish waters greets him. On the edge of the pond are two stone and slab benches and whoever sits on them, according to legend, returns to sit on them again. A room in the courtyard is believed to house the sacred hair of Prophet Muhammed(pbuh). At the peak of the minarets flanking the masjid is an arched gallery and above that a smallish dome and a spire. Inscriptions from the Quran adorn many of the arches and doors. The main structure of the masjid is sandwiched between two massive octagonal columns hewn out of a single piece of granite. The cornices running around the entire mosque structure and the floral motifs and friezes over the arches remind the tourist of the great attention paid to detail in Qutub Shahi architecture. They have a close resemblance to the ones the tourist sees on the arches at Charminar and Golkonda fort.
Though an overview of the masjid yields a picture of a massive rectangular granite monolith, closer scrutiny discloses the sculptural excellence of this axis of Muslim faith and of the parts that constitute its sum. If the tourist can deflect his gaze from the sheerness of the façade, everything from the cornices, the alcoves, the balconies to the parapets and the sundry, reveals an unparalleled aesthetic brilliance. Look at the cornice running on the four sides of the masjid, you will find 25 windows which have awnings positioned between the consoles.
On the four sides of the roof of the main masjid are ramparts made up of granite planks in the shape of inverted conches perched on pedestals. From the cornice of the masjid, its minarets are not as high as the minarets on the mazaar (Nizams’ tombs) haven from their cornice. The octagonal columns have arched balconies on level with the roof of the masjid with an awning for a canopy above which the column continues upwards till it is crowned by a dome and spire.
As the tourist enters the great courtyard of the masjid, to his left he will find an exquisitely graceful, rectangular, arched and canopied building housing the marble graves of Asaf Jahi rulers. This structure came up during the rule of the Asaf Jah rulers. It contains the tombs of the Nizams and their family. At both ends of this resting place for the Asaf Jahs and very much a part of it, are two rectangular blocks with four minarets each. These minarets have elegant and circular balconies with low ornamental walls and arches. Above them is an octagonal inverted platter from which the rest of the minaret soars till it is arrested by a dome and a spire. This mazaar sanctuary is in reality a far greater specimen of architectural sophistication than the principal masjid and proclaims the artistic penchant of the Asaf Jahis.