Initially I had thought, I would not write about this as I was very upset with the quality of the pictures which had come out of this place. But a certain Article on Jamia Masjid or Jama Masjid Srinagar Kashmir got my attention while gazing through a hoard of other articles.
My experience of Jama Masjid Srinagar.
We reached Jama Masjid post our visit to Hazratbal mosque, where we could catch some wonderful pictures. As we were travelling since early morning, Tugga was already tired and slept off in the car. So just like Hazratbal Mosque, I ventured out on my own. The entrance was through a narrow road and the car gets parked at some distance. It was around 4.30 in the evening and the light was not conducive at all for photography but as the only chance of visiting the place, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass.
Information about Jama Masjid Srinagar and history
History says that this place was built by Sultan Sikandar Shah Kashmiri Shahmiri in 1349 AD. Built over square stones at the bottom and burnt bricks on top of them, the place has three mosques in western, northern and southern sides and a fountain in the centre. The fountain reflects all the mosques and as a photographer, you would like to capture the reflections. The entrances are grand one, one has to remove the footwear and enter through the prayer hall to reach the courtyard. It is said that the prayer halls were designed to accommodate more than 30 thousand people and the huge size of the prayer halls at Jama Masjid Srinagar will make you pause, gaze and perhaps say a silent prayer. It looked huge to me perhaps because there wasn’t anyone around but the vast carpet. As the place was about to close, there were hardly any visitors but if you come with time in hand, then sit here for a while and get engulfed by the awesomeness.
As Feizal Alkazi mentions in his book Srinagar and Architectural legacy – “The Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta is a much more ambitious form of building than the neighborhood mosque as it was built primarily for communal worship every Friday. The word Jami (from the Arabic root, means to assemble) and therefore Jami Masjid everywhere are built to accommodate hundreds, even thousands of people” This place is an wonderful example of spacious and gracious mosque that combines the warmth of wood and brick work very successfully”
As I was toying with the idea of shooting, this little girl came in and started offering her prayer as it was the evening prayer time. I didn’t want to disturb her and captured her once she was through with her prayers. The look in her eyes, little scared as I was the only person in the prayer room and her parents were outside will be etched in my memory forever.
The article which prompted me to write this is here. It says
“The Jamia Masjid has been a hub for Kashmir politics and in more recent years, for the confrontation between Kashmiri youth and security forces. Stone pelting sessions after Friday prayers have become a routine in this area, and for the last two decades, this Grand Mosque area has become the battlefield for clashes between the youth and the forces. Some call this the ‘Gaza’ of Kashmir. On Fridays, if camerapersons and journalists reach the mosque vicinity, then the police take it as a sign that something is about to happen after the prayers. At times, they force us to leave the area as they fear the presence of cameras incites the youths to pelt stones.”
I am not taking any sides here, neither am I trying to find who is right or wrong but just like that little girl who prayed, feeling safe within the mosque, it can be my son also tomorrow in some temple. I myself many a times have visited Haji Ali in Mumbai and sat hours after hours inside the main prayer hall and felt peace within. Why the religious institutions cant be spared from politics and violence? It is prayers which bring peace, peace brings happiness.