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ADHAI-DIN-KA JHONPURA

Adhai din ka jhonpra is a mosque. It is not a hut much as the name suggests. But as the name suggests, it was built in 2 and a half days according to legend. In Hindi, adhai means two and a half. Apparently the name is also attributed to a two and a half day fair held nearby each year. It is believed that this edifice was originally a Sanskrit college, but Muhammad Ghori converted it into a mosque in 1198 and built a seven-arched wall inscribed with verses from the Koran.

Designed by Abu Bakr of Herat, the mosque is a fair example of early Indo-Islamic architecture and is built from masonry taken from broken down Hindu and Jain temples. The pillars are of special interest, which hold up the ceiling in the main chamber. An intricate jali (screen) under a raised arch was added by Sultan Altamush in 1230 AD. Colonel James Todd, describes the Adhai-din ka Jhonpra as a temple in his book Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, Volume I. This Britisher is credited with being the first to map Rajasthan and write about it in immense detail. He writes that "the entire façade of this noble entrance … is covered with Arabic inscriptions … but a small frieze over the apex of the arch contains an inscription in Sanskrit." The Arabic script he attributes to Ghori who used local masons and artisans to break down this centre of learning where one was taught in Sanskrit and built a mosque in its place. Perhaps that is the reason why the mosque was completed in two and a half days, for the original infrastructure must already have existed.

You can enter the mosque through a simple gateway in the north, on whose right stands a ruined minaret. The gate leads into a stairway leading up to a small tower from where the muezzin (mosque official) called the faithful to prayer. The front façade consists of a number of small arches built of yellow limestone. The main arch is flanked by six smaller arches of Arab origin wherein tiny rectangular panels allowed for a lighting system, a feature found in ancient Arabian mosques.

The interior of the Jhonpra is designed along the lines of a Hindu temple rather than a mosque where the main hall is supported by a number of massive columns. Three pillars are placed over each other to gain more height while the roof is supported on square bays. The columns are of an uncommon design, heavily decorated and quite similar to Hindu and Jain rock temples, each of one being dissimilar to each other. Their bases are large and bulbous, tapering as they gain height, with nichés to house images of gods and goddesses. Even the ceiling is an extensively carved adventure, below which is a pulpit especially constructed to deliver sermons from the Koran.


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