Religious Places

Atala Masjid, Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh

Written by Sudhir Kumar

Being the first mosque to be built after the independence of Jaunpur from the Islamic caliphate in India, the Atala Mosque was given royal treatment setting up a new monumentality to the traditional jami’.  The majestic pylons of the portal of its main prayer room, the three unequal domes above its roof and the large court with its two storey porticoes, all expressed a new grandeur never seen before, adding more mystery to the skill and imagination of the medieval Muslim architect.

About Atala Masjid, Jaunpur :

Atala Masjid or Atala Mosque is a 15th-century mosque in Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, India. It is one of the chief tourist attractions in Jaunpur. The mosque bears the evidences of the times in which it was built. The Atala Masjid is a useful specimen of mosques, not only in Uttar Pradesh but also in India.

The mosque complex consists of a long rectangular prayer hall that opens onto a large square courtyard to the west. The courtyard is enveloped by a two-story veranda on the exterior that are used by merchants and visitors. It is entered from three domed gates facing north, east and west.

Inside, the courtyard is enveloped by a three-bay deep double-story colonnade on three sides. The screened upper story was most likely reserved for women.

The mosque occupies the western side of the courtyard; its facade is marked by an imposing central portal — close to twenty-three meters tall — flanked by secondary portals. Its plan is centered around a tall domed sanctuary behind the central portal, with two long three-bay deep galleries to the north and south.

Historical Introduction :

The end of the 14th century was a troublesome time for the Muslim caliphate in India mainly due to the considerable increase in internal disputes and fighting between various princes and tribes composing its social fabric. Jaunpur remained an eastern provincial state of the Sultanate of Delhi until late 14th century when Mohammed Thughlug granted the title of Malik-as-Sharq (King of the East) upon its governor Malik Sarvar.  The governor gradually became independent and founded the Sharqi dynasty with Jaunpur being its capital.  Jaunpur enjoyed a good deal of prosperity becoming an important cultural centre, thus numerous construction projects were undertaken in a patriotic fashion.  Such endeavour can be seen in the towering portals which dominated their mosque facades.  The city was later destroyed by Sikandar Lodhi, the Sultan of Delhi, when he conquered it in 1480 sparing only five of its mosques.

Construction :

The Jaunpur Atala Masjid was built by Sultan Ibrahim (1401–1440), Sharqi Sultan of Jaunpur on foundations laid during the reign of Tughluq Sultan Firuz Shah III (1351–1388). Though the emergence of this mosque dates back to 1377, the construction work was completed in 1408.

Architecture :

The chief feature of Atala Masjid is that in spite of being a mosque and that too, built by the Muslims rulers, the Masjid shows a lot of influences of Hindu architecture. In fact, there is a clear resemblance of Hindu style of architecture, in the entire Masjid. The reason for such similarity is due to the fact that the Atala Masjid is situated on the site of a temple of Atala Devi. Hence the Atala Masjid, Jaunpur also gets its name from this Hindu Temple.

Location :

2.2 km north-northeast of Jaunpur, 7.3 km northwest of Zafarābād, 16.8 km north-northeast ofMariāhū, 26.3 km west-northwest of Kirākat.

Transport links :

  • Located 3 kilometers from the railway junction at Bhandari,
  • by availing the bus or train services from Varanasi (Benaras), which is separated from Jaunpur by a distance of 56 kilometers.
  • Lucknow and Mirzapur are the other two cities located at a distance of 214 kilometers and 69 kilometers respectively.

About the author

Sudhir Kumar

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