Zeenat-ul Masjid - the cloud mosque of Mughal Delhi

Also commonly known as Ghata Masjid (cloud mosque), Zeenat-ul Masjid was built in the year 1707 AD by Zinat-ul-Nissa, Aurangzeb's second daughter. The mosque is believed to be inspired by Jama Masjid in Chandni Chowk, built by her illustrious and much loved grandfather, Shah Jahan. Though much smaller in scale, and barely ever visited by travellers to the city, the mosque still stands on it's own - looking glorious, despite obvious signs of decay.

Zeenat-ul ghata Masjid old delhi
The sun setting behind the mosque

Zeenat-ul ghata Masjid old delhi
Inside the mosque

The mosque is located at Shahjahanabad in Daryaganj, which used to be the heart of the old Mughal capital. Now here's an interesting anecdote about the locality itself - Daryaganj was originally designed to be a market next to the river Yamuna, the lifeline of Delhi. However, once the British took control of Delhi they made several changes, including rerouting of the river. Unfortunately with this change in the course of river (darya), the market was no longer next to the river, though the name continued to be used.

I digress, as I always do when I tell tales from the past. Well, let's try and answer why it's called Ghata Masjid. There are actually two theories around it. The first one is about it's tall minarets which reach the clouds or ghata (not literally, of course), and the second story is about the banks of river Yamuna with it's ghat (steps leading to the river). Maybe there is another story too, but it doesn't really matter - the name has stuck, even though some people call it ghaata (loss) masjid too.

The mosque saw some dark times during India's first independence struggle in 1857 when the Mughal rulers in Delhi joined the revolt against the British. Unfortunately, the war was lost and with that the Mughal empire in India came to an end. Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal, was exiled to Rangoon (Burma or Myanmar used to be a part of British India then) and large parts of Delhi were completely destroyed, including almost everything inside the Red Fort. The mosque wasn't razed to the ground, but the British decided to convert it into a bakery. The tomb of  Zinat-ul-Nissa was moved, but no one really knows where her final mortal remains are now.

Zeenat-ul ghata Masjid old delhi
Time for birds to go back home

Connection with Taj Mahal

Here's another story from her family, and this one is about her mother, Dilras Banu Begum. She was Aurangzeb's favourite wife and her story takes us all the way to Deccan where she was buried in the majestic Bibi ka Maqbara in Aurangabad. Here's the interesting bit - the mosque built by her was a miniature version of Jama Masjid in Delhi, while Bibi ka Maqbara is a miniature version of Taj Mahal in Agra. What's even more interesting is the fact that both were built by Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb's father, who was thrown off from his throne by Aurangzeb himself and leter imprisoned till death in Agra's Red Fort.

Such are the fascinating tales from the Mughal era. I can just keep exploring them all my life!

Zeenat-ul ghata Masjid old delhi
Time for prayer at the mosque
Zeenat-ul ghata Masjid old delhi
Ghata masjid or Zeenat-ul masjid in Old Delhi


Planning a visit to Ghata Masjid

Reaching the mosque: I would recommend taking a cab and coming here, or if you are already in Old Delhi you can take an auto-rickshaw too. The closest metro stations are Chawri Bazaar and Chandni Chowk, but you will still need to take some transportation from there to reach the mosque.

Entry fee: The entry to the mosque is free

Timings: There are no fixed timings, and you can easily come here from sunrise to sunset

Dress-code: I don't know if there is any, but it's recommended not to wear shorts.

Comments

  1. Replies
    1. The pictures are really beautiful, I love the warm colours of the sky, you can really feel the heat.

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  2. I love the tales behind the Zeenat-ul Masjid. I read with wonder. I must admit you have a great storytelling skill. Thanks!

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  3. I really loved the Mughal architecture in India. I've only been able to visit two, and unfortunately, this was not one of them. Too bad. :(

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  4. Fantastic! And the stories behind the Zeenat-ul Masjid are just as fascinating as the building itself! I'm a BIG fan of bakeries, but even I can see that turning such a building into a bakery is a terrible waste of the building's architecture and history. Of course I've heard of Shah Jahan in relation to the Taj Mahal, but had no idea of the other buildings he was responsible for.

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  5. Beautiful mosque. Nice to read about Zeenat-ul Masjid. Awesome pics.

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  6. What a pretty mosque! Love the story behind it. I have been to Bibi ka Makbara and love the connections. Tales of the Mughal era are so interesting.

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  7. Great photos! I would love to visit here. Mosques are so gorgeous.

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  8. This is definitely one of the hidden treasures of Delhi. It is really amazing what each nook and corner of Delhi has to reveal. The connection between Zeenat-Ul-Masjid, Jama Masjid, Bibi Ka Maqbara and the Taj Mahal is fascinating.

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  9. There sure are some really fascinating tales from the Mughal era! I would love to visit Ghata Masjid - it's nice to know that entry is free and there are no time restrictions - thanks for providing insight into the history and legends behind it :)

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  10. Thanks for sharing this information. The Mughal architecture in India is fabulously magnificent, and it is certainly one of the hidden treasures of Delhi.

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  11. This is very nice to interesting information is very nice. Thank you for a sharing This for a information.
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