Sacred wonders: Top 5 must-visit mosques in South Asia

Many mosques around South Asia have a lot of history attached to them and are not just a place of prayer, but also a tourist attraction. Here is a look at 5 of them.


Photo: Collected / Wikimedia Commons / The Doctor/THE DAILY STAR

November 20, 2023

DHAKA – While mosques are a place of prayer for Muslims, they are a beautiful sight to anyone who sees it, regardless of religion. Many mosques around South Asia have a lot of history attached to them and are not just a place of prayer, but also a tourist attraction. Here is a list of 5 beautiful mosques around South Asia that should definitely be a part of your travel itinerary if you are ever visiting these countries.

Jama Masjid, Delhi, India

This magnificent mosque was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. It took around 12 years to build, completed in1656 and is located in Old Delhi. The mosque served as a royal mosque for the emperors, symbolising the Mughal sovereignty in India. It was one of the last monuments built by emperor Shah Jahan and despite being under many attacks, the mosque still has three huge entryways, which has been standing strong from 1656. The building could hold up to 25,000 people at a time, and a large population of muslims in Delhi still go and pray there on a daily basis.

Crystal Mosque, Terengganu, Malaysia

This mosque is fairly new compared to the other ones, being completed in 2008. However, the uniqueness of the mosque truly makes it stand out from any other mosque that you can think of. The exterior of this jaw-dropping mosque is entirely built with crystals, glass, and steel, hence the name. The interior is decorated with touches of white and gold, with Islamic calligraphy on the walls. Despite being able to hold only 1,500 people at a time, the unique beauty of the mosque makes it very popular.

Shah Faisal Mosque, Islamabad, Pakistan

Established in 1986, Shah Faisal Mosque is the largest mosque is Pakistan, and is said to be the fifth largest mosque in the world, having the capacity to hold up to 300,000 people at once. The design of the mosque resembles that of a Bedouin tent and is known to be a contemporary and influential piece in Islamic architecture. Unconventionally, the mosque does not have a typical dome but an eight-sided shell shaped sloping roof, giving it a unique architectural feature as a mosque. As the mosque is located at the foot of Margalla Hills, in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, the mosque also has a very scenic view, making it very popular with tourists.

Sixty-Dome Mosque, Khulna, Bangladesh

Sixty-Dome Mosque, also known as Shaat Gombuj Masjid, is located in Bagherhat, Khulna, Bangladesh. The mosque took 17 years to build and was finally completed in 1459. Even though the name suggests that the mosque has 60 domes, in reality, the mosque has 77 domes and a very big main hall. It is the largest mosque in Bangladesh from the sultanate period and was built by Khan Jahan Ali, the governor of Sundarbans during the Bengal Sultanate.

The Great Mosque of Xi’an, Shaanxi, China

The Great Mosque of Xi’an is one of the very first mosques built in China around 742 AD, it was however, reconstructed around 1384 AD, during the Ming dynasty. This mosque, being one of the oldest mosques in China, is very popular with the Muslims of China even though it is fairly small and can hold around 1,000 people at a time. As a mosque, it has very uncommon architecture as it is built with Chinese architectural features and cultural symbols. The mosque has calligraphy in both Chinese and Perso-Arabic around the complex, making it very different from other mosques around the world.

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