It is one of the largest mosques in India - one of the largest in the world in fact - and took 8,000 masons and labourers, 77 years, and, if stories are to be believed, 1,400 bullocks (!) to be finally completed. The Mecca Masjid is a must-see on any self-respecting tourist's itinerary, and with good reason. Lying in the center of Old Hyderabad and just southwest of the Charminar, this mosque, which claims to be able to accommodate over 10,000 worshippers at a time, has several stories behind it.
Its construction was begun in 1617 by Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah, who is said to have transported earth from Mecca, got bricks made out of them, and placed these bricks in the central arch of the mosque. And that is how the mosque got its name. Legend has it that when the foundation stone was about to be laid, the Sultan announced to all the religious elders in the city that he wanted the stone to be laid by one who had never missed his prayers. When no one volunteered, he laid the stone himself; he hadn't even missed a midnight prayer since he was 12.
The pillars of the structure were carved out of single slabs of granite, which is where the 1,400 bullocks came in - to drag them from the quarry to the site. Fifteen beautiful arches support the roof of the prayer hall, with five arches on each of three sides, and a sheer wall on the fourth to provide mehrab (a place for the holy books to be kept).
Inscriptions adorning the arches and doors are verses from the Quran, and a roof enclosure to the left of the courtyard houses the tombs of the Asaf Jahi rulers, the Nizams of Hyderabad. The courtyard has a story of its own: a room inside it is said to contain a hair of the Prophet Mohammed. And that's not all. This one's our favorite: the pond is flanked by two stone seats, and it is said that anyone who sits on either of the seats will surely return to Hyderabad once more. Fills your heart up, doesn't it?
The mosque was completed in 1694 by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, and since then has come under considerable repair. Patches on the walls and cracks in the pillars are common, even after the chemical wash in 1995. The giant walls of mesh put up to protect the sacred space from the attack of the pigeons do tend to ruin the overall effect of the structure, but this cannot be helped.
Non-muslims are not allowed to visit the mosque during prayer times and on Friday. But do visit when you can, and remember to sit on the stone seat. We'd love to have you come back someday.
EVENTS AT MECCA MASJID (TOURIST SPOT)
There are no events at Mecca Masjid (Tourist Spot) scheduled currently.