|The Grand mosque bathed in blue light|
It was my first visit to UAE in February 2016. During the two weeks duration I got in touch with my friends (a couple) staying in Abu Dhabi. The lovely couple with their little baby girl decided to drive down to Dubai just to meet us. We headed to Saravana Bhavan to have lunch and soon it was time to part. Both of our families felt that we could have spent more time together and that's when they said "come with us to Abu Dhabi". We got a little perplexed as we weren't prepared for a trip. After a 5 minute discussion we decided to go ahead with the spontaneous plan. I always love such last minute plans as they always becomes adventurous than the routine planned trips.
The roads enroute were too good so we reached Abu Dhabi in 2 hours. After a round of tea from my friend's place we all got ready to visit the Sheikh Zayed mosque. Until I reached the place, I didn't have any faint idea how huge it is and what a major landmark it is. Oh yes! this is the third largest mosque in the world. The distant view of the mosque was a massive white structure bathed in brilliant blue light in the dark night's backdrop. Excitedly, I kept exclaiming 'Wow' many times. The car was parked as we inquired about the dress code for women. A guard guided us to the place where we get burqa (refer: Burqa) on rent. Women must either wear full covered clothes with a shawl covering their heads or wear a burqa. Either ways women must make sure that their heads are covered. This rule is so strict that once while taking a photo my head was exposed due to the wind flowing in, seeing this a guard made us delete that particular photo.
|white marble pillars designed like Date palms|
|The unique Chandelier|
|Another huge Chandelier|
Slowly we moved to the interiors of the mosque where floors were decorated with elegant carpets and exquisite hanging chandeliers which adorned the roofs. The carpet in the main prayer hall is considered to be the world's largest carpet made by Iran's Carpet company and designed by Iranian artist Ali Khaliqi.
I couldn't take my eyes off the two gigantic chandeliers that I kept on looking at them for a long time. Later when I researched about this, I learnt that these chandeliers are designed by a German lighting company and is studded with Swarovski crystals and galvanized gold. In total the mosque has 7 imported chandeliers from company Fasutig in Munich. The largest chandelier is the third largest one in the world. Also, the unique lighting of the mosque has been designed by the same UK company which designed the lighting of the famous Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
|Intricate floral designs on walls|
The Grand Mosque features 82 domes of Moroccan design all decorated with white marble. It has approximately 1000 columns in its outer areas with more than 20,000 marble panels inlaid with semi-precious stones. I can keep on praising about this spellbound architectural monument forever. I know its hard to believe if I mention that I was stunned to see the design of the rest room cum ablution areas located on the under ground floor. There are separate facilities for men and women. First sight was that of the ablution area which looked more like an out of the world space filled with ultimate peace. The only voices were that of the flowing water. It was the first time I'm seeing these purification rituals (refer: Ablution, Wudu). The design on the walls and wash basins were like that we see in great palaces. I regret that I didn't carry my camera here but for this reason the place will remain in my memory forever. As I stepped out to meet my family and friends who were waiting outside, I was fortunate to see another brilliant sight. The almost Full moon that day was seen beaming over the mosque in the dark sky which looked like straight out of a wallpaper. The unique lighting system of the mosque is designed to reflect the phases of the moon so that means each day the view is different from that of previous day. I couldn't share that moment with anybody-else who came with me and so the moment was Mine. Again this view wasn't captured in a photograph which makes it more unique for me. I was indeed over the moon at the Grand mosque.
|Pool outside the mosque|
The Grand mosque is open for travelers of all nationalities except on Fridays.