The Jummah Mosque in Mauritius was one of my highlight in Port Louis. I had the possibility to visit most of the accessible rooms including the rooftop which was quite spectacular. The building of the mosque started in the 1850s, with substantial additions built through the 1890s.
Jummah Mosque in Mauritius – history from 1852
One of the elderlies of the mosque approached me when I was inside and he guided me through the building explaining the history behind it.
The need of a principal mosque in Port-Louis was deeply felt and hence in October 1852 some Muslim merchants purchased some plots of land in the City Centre where they hold their businesses and immediately arrangements were made to start performing daily prayers.
One of the building was repaired, and converted into a House of Prayer, pending the construction of the Mosque
The need of a second Mosque was felt in Port-Louis as the small mosque in the Eastern Suburb, then known as Malabar Town, could not accommodate more than one hundred people and was about a few kilometres away from the centre of the town.
By 1853, a small mosque known under the name of “Mosquee des Arabes” erected on the new site was solemnly consecrated.
That small mosque was the original Juma’ Mosque and it symbolised the faith, zeal and selflessness of those early pioneers of Islam.
As years rolled by and the Muslim Community increased, the small mosque which could accommodate 200 persons only became inadequate to its large congregation.
The necessity of a larger building was keenly felt, but space could not be made available until 1859.
The Jummah Mosque grows
From 1859 to 1877 seven adjoining properties were purchased by a few Muslim merchants and handed over to the Directors of the Mosque.
Thanks to the generosity and devotion of those Muslim Merchants, the whole Mohamedan Congregation of the Juma’ Mosque became the owner of the quadrangle measuring a little over three quarters of an acre on which the Juma’ Mosque now stands.
The place of worship was not built wholly at the same time but is composed of the original Mosque extended and embellished when the adjoining properties were purchased.
The expansion work which was necessary to transform the “Mosque des Arabes” into the present Juma’ Mosque entailed considerable expenses.
A rate of 2 cents of a rupee was levied upon every bag of grain sold by the grain merchants to the general trade indistinctly. For many years all dealers in grain paid the rate ‘for the church‘ as it was called
From the year 1878 skilled Indian artisans worked daily at the new edifice, living within its precincts.
The local workmen of that time had not the skill and dexterity of Indian workmen for that special kind of work. So skilled hands had to be employed for the plastering, the moulding of the sculpture work, the finishing and the ornamentation.
At that time Indian labour could be transported here very cheaply as the members sitting on the Board of the Mosque were themselves owners of ships plying between India and Mauritius.
The work was often interrupted by outbreaks of disease, shortage of hands or materials, but, eventually, in 1895, the aggrandizement was completed.
I would personally not stay in Port Louis, unless if there for a business trip. I wrote a guide to the best places to stay in Mauritius which I suggest to read, it will allow you to enjoy your holiday so much better, based on the month you visit of course.
Travel and photography tips
- A zoom lens will help to capture the details of this spectacular building. If you have a fix lens you may miss them.
- Unfortunately, my zoom lens has a maximum aperture of f/4 so I had to push the ISO value up to 1000 (no flash in the mosque). I did expect some noticeable noise, however, I was surprised by the end result (as you see in the photos above). I used a Nikon D600 for all these photos
- If you are not that keen to use full manual mode, set your aperture and shutter speed and leave the Automatic ISO
- Do not worry about WB, set it to Automatic as well, you may recover the photos easily in post production if necessary
- The place is obviously very quiet and you may not be able to access it during the praying time, especially on Fridays
- Women will be provided with a full dress
- Donations are welcome