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Travel New Delhi India

The architect and the Jama Masjid in Delhi

by Emiel Van Den Boomen

Travel New Delhi India

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…

Travel New Delhi India

Our trip to India

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.

Sleeping people mosque

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.

Travel New Delhi India

The architect

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 guy 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….

Delhi mosque

Jama Masjid

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.

Travel New Delhi India

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.

Meeting india people

Travel New Delhi India


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Michi January 31, 2013 - 23:19

Beautiful article and photos of India, Emiel! I had temporary roommate while I was living in the different paces work was sending me to that absolutely LOVED India and told me stories of his time there and how he’d go back in a heartbeat. I thought of your blog and about how much I’d love to go to India someday too!!

Emiel van den Boomen February 1, 2013 - 20:21

Great to see you again Michi, it has been a long time. Thanks for the compliments. We would also go back in a heartbeat and I’m sure we will, together with our kids. If you have the chance, GO!

Sharon Chen January 25, 2013 - 14:36

Would love to go to India some day. Thanks for sharing!

Emiel January 26, 2013 - 21:34

I hope you will make it to India someday Sharon!


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