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X – Xploring the Grand Mosque | #AtoZChallenge

X – Xploring the Grand Mosque | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Today let me take you to the ‘Taj Mahal’ of the Middle East – their star attraction.

The Grand Mosque or as it is popularly known, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is located in the capital of UAE, Abu Dhabi. It is the largest mosque in the country and one of the largest mosques in the world. The sheer whiteness of the structure makes it comparable to Taj Mahal (maybe because I am an Indian) as there is hardly any other building in the world like this. If you are visiting in the after, it is literally blinding for the naked eye to stare at the monument.

It is an important place for daily prayers, Friday gatherings and Eid prayers. The mosque has a massive capacity and on Eid, it can accommodate up to 41000 people. The construction of the mosque started in 1996 and it took about twelve years to complete.

While Entering

This mosque is unlike other mosques that you would find around the world. Its uniqueness lies in its architecture that captures seamless interactions between Islam and world cultures. Sheikh Zayed’s vision for the Grand Mosque was to incorporate architectural styles from different parts of the world including many Muslim civilizations. He wanted the mosque to stand out as a symbol for togetherness of cultural diversity and heritage.

One look at the Mosque and you will feel that it is a celebration of cultural diversity. The mosque’s architects were British, Italian and Emirati, and design inspiration was borrowed parts of Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan, and Egypt among other Islamic countries. Syrian architect Yousef Abdelky designed it, which covers an area of 22,412 square meters and was made in collaboration with 3,000 artisans from 38 global construction companies.

The Main area inside

It has soon become one of the most popular destinations not only in the UAE but in the whole world. In 2017 it saw a staggering 3.4 mn visitors and Tripadvisor rated it as the world’s second most favorite landmark with only Angor Wat in Cambodia beating it to the top spot.

It was made at a whopping cost of AED 2bn and is world’s third largest mosque with its 82 domes carved out of white marble, 1096 exterior columns, 96 semi-precious jewel-encrusted internal columns and the awe-inspiring seven handmade 24-carat gold plated Swarovski crystal chandeliers.

The Grand Mosque also holds three Guinness World records to its name – the largest hand-woven carpet in the world, the biggest chandelier and the largest dome of its kind.

The beautiful arches

The world’s largest carpet measures 5,627 sqm (60,570 sq ft) and was made by around 1,200-1,300 carpet knitters putting in an astounding 2,268,000,000 knots within the carpet. The weight of this carpet is 35 ton and is predominantly made from wool (originating from New Zealand and Iran). The carpet alone took approximately two years to complete.

When you enter during sunlight the spectacular ancient-cut domes, the reflective pools that engulf the courtyard and the iconic prayer hall will mesmerize you. The pool looks surreal at night, which is illuminated reflecting the mosque’s columns.

It is named after UAE’s founding figure, Sheikh Zayed and after his death in 2004; he was buried in the mosque’s courtyard. Just like the Taj Mahal, its radiating brilliance lies in its carvings and patterns on the columns, which are studded with precious gems and stones like amethyst and Jasper.

To promote an open-culture-open-door policy the mosque is open for everyone and that too free of cost. One can also go for a one-hour guided tour of the mosque and this is also completely free – it definitely worth signing for as it gives an insight into the structure, heritage and architecture.

The Largest Chandelier

The mosque is always full of visitors but its extravagant size makes it feel very spacious and you will not feel cramped or overcrowded.

Timings: 9:00am – 22:00 Saturday-Thursday and 16:30-22:00 on Fridays

During Ramadan – 9:00am-14:00 Saturday-Thursday and the mosque is completely closed on Fridays.

Getting there:

If you are staying in Abu Dhabi take a taxi and within 20 min you will be at your destination. If you are traveling from Dubai, although there is a direct bus service from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, the preferred option is a taxi. The taxi will cost you around AED 250-275 per side and will only take about 90 min.

Important Tips:

When traveling to the Grand Mosque, do plan to visit a couple of other attractions in Abu Dhabi, that way you can make the most of your trip. Try to have meals before you come to the mosque, as you will not find many options in proximity.

Another view from inside

Please dress modestly as it is a Muslim religious site. The ladies will be provided with free ‘abayas’ to cover themselves fully. Remove shoes and socks before entering the main site.

Any time is a good time to visit the Grand Mosque but during summers try to visit in the morning or early evening. It is perfect for photography then. Don’t forget to carry a pair of sunglasses, as the glare might not make it comfortable for you.

It has a seductive captivating vibe, which makes you sit in silence and just observe and soak in the opulence. Irrespective of the faith you follow – you must visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque for its spectacular architecture.

For all those who love the Taj Mahal,

For all those who like architecture,

Pool reflecting the amazing columns

For all those who like visiting religious sites,

And

For all those who are amazed by The Grand Mosque…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 24th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with the letter ‘Y’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

11

R – Ram Temple | #AtoZChallenge

R – Ram Temple | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Any political discussion is incomplete in Indian politics without discussing the Ram Temple issue. Elections after elections, government after governments and manifesto after manifesto…the matter or the dispute more or less remains where it existed. I didn’t find any substantial evidence but I am sure the British would have got a great clue to divide the country along political lines when the first riots broke around 1850 regarding the same issue.

The ideological parent of the current ruling party brought the subject into the mainstream, which became the flag bearer of all the issues for the party since the 1980s. They grew from a dismal 2 seats in the Lok Sabha to a resounding 282 seats on the back of the Ram Temple dispute.

I was around seven years old when the issue reached its tipping point in 1992 following a ‘Rath Yatra’ from one of the founding members of the party. The horrifying blood bath that followed is still fresh in my memory. I just need to close my eyes and I can still see those open skulls, burning screaming souls and charred bodies.

Nearly three decades later, the ones who were in their twenties during the riots are now in their fifties and the ones carrying out the yatra are breathing their last…but the issue is as alive as ever with no resolution in sight.

That sowed the seed of hate forever in so many Indians against each other. We are killing each other for a treacherous act of an invader. For a heinous act committed five centuries ago, what sanity it is, to keep burning humans so that you can justify your agenda.

Let me tell you, no soul ever finds solace by killing another.

I wonder if anyway Lord Ram could see all this – Don’t forget he gave up that throne and land for keeping the words of his mother, I am sure If he would have been alive, he would have given up now too. How can one slash the womb of a lady, take out an unborn and chop it into pieces in front of her and that too on the name of Ram? No lord would want so much hatred and kill on his name.

The irony is that the so-called followers of Ram, do not follow the ideologies of him. To be honest these Ram-Bhakts have started to betray him and become the Bhakt of some other hate spewing supreme commander.

This was the perfect opportunity for BJP to at least start the construction of the Temple rather than just use it as a gimmick once again to trivialize the sentiments of the followers of Ram. With them being in power at the center as well as state, this opportunity might never return for them. Forget about making the country a Hindu rashtra, they can’t even make a temple.

The fallacy in the logic of, that the Jews have their Jerusalem, the Muslims have Mecca, what have Hindus got. As per the Hindu religious texts, there are so many Gods and so many sacred places linked to each one of them. How will you decide which one is the most superior of all? We already have the dhams, the jyotirlings and the shaktipeeths, what would one less or one more temple to do the religion. It’s all in the mind but for that it requires sanity.

The people who have been to the birthplace of Lord Krishna, they would recall that there is a mosque just adjacent to the temple; in fact they share a common wall. Since the beginning of mankind and their arrival in this land, everybody lived in harmony because there was acceptance of everyone.

The people are too blind to see how mercilessly they are being used for their political gains. They claim that there was a temple long before Babar demolished it and constructed a Mosque, a place of worship. It was an unpardonable sin – but wasn’t he a barbaric invader, what else can we expect of him. That in no way justifies you again destroying a place of worship claiming to be the protectant of a religion, which is considered to the most peaceful.

I sometimes think, Did Ram take birth in a temple? Ideally, it should have been a palace given the fact that his father was a king. If that were the exact location of birth then somebody would have destroyed the palace too, to make a temple.

If the court decides on logic and merit some people are ready to burn it…if they simply discuss it as a ‘matter of faith’, they lose their credibility forever. The court itself is caught in a tussle to maintain peace and harmony and somehow give a verdict that pleases every party.

I am banking on the current and future generations that they would evolve above all this and won’t let themselves get divided on religious lines. But sadly a process has been created where people are kept uneducated and jobless so that they are always ready to pick up arms so that they can fight for the religion, whether it is any religion.

It is like the Kashmir conflict; the moment it gets resolved you would not have another issue to invoke your nationalism card on. Similarly the day the temple gets built, the privilege to use of the religious card would also get neutralized.

The best solution lies in creating a facility on the land that serves everyone irrespective of any religion – construct a hospital or school or anything but not a religious structure. The land has seen enough violence and blood and it shouldn’t take another five centuries to resolve the issue. Make sure when you vote, you vote for the future of your child.

For all those who believe the conflict will never be resolved,

For all those who want peace,

For all those who feel all this would have aggrieved Ram,

And

For all those who believe in the ideologies of Lord Ram…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 18th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Politics Category is ‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’, where I would be covering some relevant issues with the General Elections 2019 through the course of 26 posts.

Read the previous post here: IPL – Indian Parliamentary League

Please do visit on monday for the next post with letter ‘S’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘Dubai – City of Gold‘. If you love travel head over to the Travel Theme and share your feedback.