Firoz Shah Tughlaq was well known as a prolific patron of architectural projects, but it seems like his wazir (prime minister) Khan Jahan Junan Shah was the same, credited with commissioning seven major mosques in various parts of Delhi in the second half of the 14th c. According to Lucy Peck in her book “Delhi: A Thousand Years of Building”, four of these mosques are known and extant, and there is speculation about the other three.
The four known mosques are (along with their year of construction and locations when they were built):
Khirki Masjid (late-14th cAD, within the walls of Jahanpanah, the second Tughlaq city after Tughlaqabad)
Kali or Kalan Masjid (1370 AD, Kotla Nizamuddin)
Kalan Masjid (1387 AD, near the grave site of Shah Turkman, which later came within the walls of the Mughal city of Shahjahanabad/Old Delhi)
Kalu Sarai Mosque (late-14th c, Jahanpanah)
Peck lists out three other mosques that are speculated to be built by Khan Jahan Junan Shah, but there are various levels of uncertainty about the veracity of their inclusion in the list of seven. At Kalan Masjid in the Turkman Gate area of Old Delhi, there is a signboard that also lists seven mosques. Apart from the four mentioned above, the list differs from Peck’s by one name, and so the list of “possible” mosques below which includes both Peck and the signboard’s candidates consists of four names:
Chausath Khamba (1370s, within or near Firozabad, the “city” built by Firoz Shah Tughlaq near his Kotla)
Begampur Masjid (mid-14th c AD, Jahanpanah)
Mosque in Firoz Shah Kotla (1354 AD, Firoz Shah Kotla)
Mosque on Qutb Road (late-14th c/15th c, east of Qadam Sharif)
Signboard at Kalan Masjid, Turkman Gate with its list of seven mosques (at the bottom of the board)
To add my two cents to the speculation, I think that if Junan Shah had built mosques near the dargahs of Nizamuddin Auliya and Shah Turkman, it is possible that he had also built one in Mehrauli near the dargah of Bakhtiyar Kaki and one near Chirag Dilli’s dargah, but that these don’t survive anymore. In any case, I recently completed my visits to the mosques on the lists above (the last of the visits was to Kalan Masjid in the Turkman Gate area of Old Delhi), so thought I’d put photos of them all together in one post.
Map indicating the locations of the mosques in the list (click on the map to go the Google Map)
These are the mosques that were probably or confirmedly built by Junan Shah.
This mosque built sometime in late-14th c AD within the walls of Jahanpanah, now in the village of Khirki, has a lot of similarities with two of the other probable/confirmed mosques on the list, the Kali Masjid in Nizmauddin and Kalan Masjid in the Turkman Gate area of Old Delhi. These similarities include the entrance gateway, the rounded bastions on the outer corners of the mosque, the shape of the interior arches and pillars, and the shape and arrangement of the numerous small domes that roof the covered portions of the mosque. Like the Kali Masjid at Nizamuddin, the inside of this mosque has covered passageways that divide the inside space into four smaller courtyards, instead of the usual single large courtyard and main prayer hall.
Inner courtyard and arches
Outer wall, fenestration and corner bastion
Kali (or Kalan) Masjid, Nizamuddin
This mosque built in 1370 AD is very similar to the Khirki Masjid above, though it has been altered to a large extent, and is in use currently.
Inner courtyards and arches
Entrance from the inside
Outer walls, corner bastion and current adjacent buildings
Kalan Masjid, Turkman Gate, Old Delhi
This mosque built in 1387 AD was probably located to be in proximity to the grave of Shah Turkman. It is now within the walls of the 17th c Mughal city of Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi), and in the 14th c was to the north-west of Firozabad and Firoz Shah Kotla. Unlike the two mosques above, it consists of a single large courtyard. It is also in current use and has been heavily altered.
Interior courtyard, arches and arcades
Main prayer hall arcade
Outer wall, corner bastion and current adjacent buildings
Bastion and current adjacent buildings
Kalu Sarai Mosque
This late-14th c AD mosque, also within the walls of Jahanpanah, is in a state of disrepair, with half of the mosque having broken down. The similar domes, arches and eaves brackets are noticeable.
These are the four mosques that either have less of a likelihood to have been built or probably weren’t built by Junan Shah, but are on the lists.
This mosque built in the 1370s AD near or within Firozabad could have been built by Junan Shah since it shares some similarities with the mosques above, including the brackets and the overall shape of arches and pillars.
Mosque on Qutb Road
This mosque near Qadam Sharif and to the west of Shahjahanabad, is different in style to the others above. To me, the layout of the mosque and the nearby tomb/gateway resembles much more the later mosque/tomb complexes of Shah Alam and Makhdum Sahib.
Begumpur Masjid was probably the main mosque of Jahanpanah, and built a little before the other mosques, in the mid-14th c AD. It shares some similarities with the other Junan Shah mosques, such as the domes, arches and pillars, arcades and brackets, but the overall feel of the mosque is different, and stylistic differences include the entrance gateways, the iwan around the main arch of the prayer hall facade and inner facade of the east entrance, and the triple arch arrangement within these two main arches. This could have been a precursor to the Junan Shah mosques. For me, Begumpur Masjid is the hidden gem of Delhi’s historical sites, mostly unknown, but beautiful and serene in it’s austerity.
Iwan around main arch of prayer hall
Inner facade of east entrance
Arcade of the main prayer hall
Outer walls and domes
Mosque at Firoz Shah Kotla
Not much remains of the main mosque inside Firoz Shah Tughlaq’s palace complex, but it was built in 1354 AD, a little before the other Junan Shah mosques, and could have been similar to the Begumpur mosque in Jahanapanah.
Entrance gateway and courtyard
As an aside, Khan Jahan Junan Shah was the son of Khan Jahan Tilangani, the first wazir of Firoz Shah Tughlaq. Tilangani’s tomb is also located in Kotla Nizamuddin, and is the first of six octagonal tombs built in Delhi.