This place of prayer is a testament to good architecture and is also open to people of all faiths.
My first stop on a recent trip to Bahrain was the beautiful Al Fateh Grand Mosque Juffair near the Al Fateh Highway. The exterior facade of the mosque is massive and done in cream hues. The domes, intricate jali work, carved windows along the exteriors and the minarets make for a compelling sight even from the outside.
This is the largest mosque in the country and was built in 1984 on reclaimed land and can hold upto 7000 worshippers at one time. We first pass through a massive wood and that has a floral metal pattern to reach the reception where our English speaking guide greets us. Since we were an all women group we are asked to wear the Abayah and are then lead inside. After leaving our footwear we walk through beige coloured corridors that are symmetric to the point of being perfect and soon find ourselves in the central hall. Our guide tells us that the mosque was built using the best materials from across the world. So the marble flooring is from Italy, the teak on the doors is from India and the chandeliers are from Austria. The huge dome built on top of the mosque is completely made of fibreglass and weighs over 60 tonnes and is the world’s largest fibreglass dome. All over the walls are calligraphy writings in a very old type of style called Kufic.
The central hall is massive and in the middle is a massive 3.5 ton Swarovski crystal chandelier that is surrounded by 952 hand-blown glass lamps from France. All around the dome are stained glass windows from Iran and the bright pink, blue, orange and green shades add a dash of colour to the stark hued interiors here. Our guide also tells us how the locals pray here and even as we speak a man comes out to announce the prayer time. The mosque has many Qurans lined up against the walls for devotees who want to pray. The National Library here is a treasure trove with over 7000 books and many are over a century old. The reception also has several books that are available for guests to take home free of cost. If you have any question, the guides are happy to answer. In all this was a great way to start my tour of Bahrain – a land with many secrets waiting to be discovered. Much like its tagline: ‘Ours. Yours.’
- Visiting hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. except on Fridays and public holidays.
- Mosque Tours are not conducted during prayer times and visitors need to wait in the reception.
- Being a place of worship you will need to be dressed modestly covering your shoulders, legs and arms fully.
- Women must wear the Abayah and cover their head with a scarf or stole that is provided at the reception.
- While photography is allowed, you are not allowed to photograph people who are praying.
- Visitors must be accompanied by guides at all times.
- Advance notice is required for guides in other languages.
This story was first published in Speaking Tree here: