The sandstone tiles were hot. Extremely hot. The sun was burning and we had to walk barefoot through the largest mosque in India: the Jama Masjid in Delhi.
“Run, Dad, run”, my son shouted! There was only a narrow piece of fabric that we could walk on, leading the way from one side to the other. But we dared to play the game of trying to stand the extreme heat of the sandstone tiles. Not for long I can assure you…
Before we booked our trip to India we did ask ourselves if we (and especially our children) would be able to stand the sights and sounds of this extreme country. That’s a relevant question. There is a lot of beauty, but you will also bump into severe poverty and dirt on the sidewalk. Hygiene is a big problem for many travelers and the chaos out on the streets can be overwhelming.
Like the sandstone tiles, would we dare to play the game to stand the extremities? Well, you know the answer.
From within that overwhelming chaos there is another tiny story to tell. One of uncountable stories that you can pick up when traveling in India.
We met a young architect at the Jama Masjid. Like many of this countrymen he was quite interested in us and started a conversation.
He was not older than 20 or 21 and lived in the South of India. He was on a kind of field trip to Delhi. The man was studying to be an architect. We discussed European design (which he liked a lot) and soon touched upon housing in India. The architect spoke sadly about the fact that many Indian people live in bad constructed houses in bad designed cities, something he found hard to accept. He had a purpose. His future work of designing beautiful buildings would give joy to the people of India! He wanted to make people happy as he could no longer stand the architectural downfall.
Together we watched the beautifully designed mosque, silently. After some minutes he started to explain about the origin of the stones used and the stunning design of the domes. He was very impressed. This historical design made him happy again.
We shook hands and took a picture. He would continue with his purpose. Our kids were beckoning us to continue the game of the hot sandstone tiles….
The Jama Masjid (or Masjid-i Jahān-Numā) is the largest mosque in India. The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan built this mosque in the year 1650. It was built in red sandstone and marble by 5000 artisans. The mosque lies at the beginning of Chawri Bazar Road, one of the busiest central streets of Old Delhi.
TIP: you can buy an extra ticket to climb up into one of the minarets. The view on Delhi is great (after walking some cramped stairs) and if you are lucky you will meet with locals and have a nice time chatting in the (very) small top of the minaret.