Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra
The mosque is believed to have been built in two and a half days, thus named
Adhai-din (two and a half days). Another belief is that its name is attributed
to a two and a half day fair held nearby each year. The 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. of special mention are the pillars which hold up the ceiling
in the main chamber. An intricate jali (screen) under a raised arch was added by
Sultan Altamush in 1230AD. Colonel James Tod, the Britisher who was the first to
map Rajasthan and write about it in immense detail, describes the Adhai-din ka
Jhonpra as a temple in his book Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan Volume I. He
writes that "the entire facade of this noble entrance ... is covered with Arabic
inscriptions ... but a small frieze over the apex of the arch is contained an
inscription in Sanskrit." The Arabic script he attributes to Ghori who used
local masons and artisans to break down this originally Sanskrit centre of
learning 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.
The mosque is entered 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 facade 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
The Interiors of the Mosque
The interior of the Jhonpra is more on the design of a Hindu temple than that of
a mosque, with a main hall supported by numerous 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.