Skip to main content

Featured Post

2023 - The Year That Was

Places impact you for a variety of reasons. And the same place impacts different people in different ways. This is especially true when it comes to spiritual experiences, where every single person’s experience is unique. And personally, every spiritual experience is unique, the same person can have different deeply spiritual experiences at different places, at different times. This thought has emerged because of my own experiences over the years, but especially so this year, with different and unique experiences at various places I have visited recently. I began this year with a visit to Baroda (Vadodara) with friends. It was meant to be a relaxed trip, a touristy trip, with our sons. We enjoyed ourselves to the hilt, but the highlight of that trip was a visit to the Lakulisha temple at Pavagadh. It was the iconography of the temple that I connected with, and I spent a few hours simply lost in the details of the figures carved around the temple. There was an indefinable connect with

Cheraman Juma Masjid - The First Mosque built in India

Eid Mubarak!!

On the occasion of Eid, I take a break from my Fort Kochi posts to bring you something special, just for this occasion – an account of my visit to the first ever mosque to be built in India!

We frequently associate Islam in India with the advent of the Mughals. While this may be true of the northern parts of the country, Islam came much earlier to South India, as early as the seventh century, during the life of Prophet Muhammad!

The story goes back in time, to the days when present day Kodungallur in Kerala was part of Muziris – the most well-known port in India. Though the history of Muziris goes way back, to 400 BC, this story begins during the reign of Cheraman Perumal, somewhere around 600AD. (Digressing slightly, the Perumals are believed to be governors or rulers under the Cheras, and thus Cheraman Perumal was a common title for many of the rulers, and thus the same name appears for various such succeeding governors).

This particular Cheraman Perumal had a dream, in which he saw the moon being split into two halves at the horizon. As was usual then, he consulted his court astrologers, but they weren’t able to offer him a satisfactory explanation. Around that time, an Arab ship docked at the port, and the traders came to the court to offer their respects to the King, who mentioned his dream to them. The Arab traders told the king about Prophet Muhammad’s miracle of the Splitting of the Moon, and the king was convinced that this was a divine message. He decided to set off at once for Mecca, handing over the reign to his children and other chieftains.

It is said that the king sailed to Mecca, met the Prophet, and converted to Islam, becoming the first Indian to do so. Besides, he decided to spread the word back in his homeland, and started on his return journey. However, he was not to set foot on his native land again. He fell ill during the journey and died near present day Oman, but left behind detailed instructions for his descendants, in the form of letters, which were brought back to Muziris by his companions.

Following his instructions, the first Mosque was built at Kodungallur in AD 629. Today, it appears to be a typical mosque, with a domed ceiling and pillars, but the original structure was quite different. It is believed that the land handed over for the mosque originally contained a defunct Buddhist Vihara, and the mosque was built over it in typical Kerala style, with tiled roofs and corridors like a temple. It was only later, as the mosque underwent multiple renovations that it began to resemble the mosque it is today. Interestingly, the core part of the mosque seems to have been maintained well over the centuries, and it is said that this sanctum still remains the same, even after a thousand and five hundred years!! Take a look at the Masjid website gallery for some beautiful photographs of the interiors. 

When we visited Cherai in May this year, we had the mosque on our list of interesting places. However, our hopes weren’t too high, since entry to many mosques is restricted. We learnt later that this mosque is open to all (only men, though), and is quite secular in nature, with many Hindus offering regular prayers here. We were unfortunately, not blessed enough to get a glimpse of the inside, since we turned up on a Friday, just in time for prayers, and therefore couldn’t enter it. However, we could circumambulate it (along with many women, both Hindu and Muslim), and most interestingly, visit the Museum, which holds some artifacts from the original mosque.

Like most temples here, the masjid too has a pond behind! 

The museum is surely the best thing about this mosque, since we know so little about it. The old photograph of the mosque that I have posted is from here. Besides, the mosque also has a model of the original structure, as well as some door frames and laterite bricks which once formed a part of it.

There are also a few interesting stone structures, like this one…

We wondered what it was, till a caretaker informed us this was part of the ancient drainage system!!

The Museum is just being set up, though it is already open to the public. There are more artifacts being restored, and more information being gathered to improve it, and I look forward to visiting again, someday. Hopefully then, Shankar and Samhith can go see what the inside of a mosque looks like!

  • Location: The Cheraman Juma Masjid is located at Kodungallur, just 2 Km from the famous Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple. Interestingly, barely 5 Km away is the site where St. Thomas the Apostle landed, making this region an important one, for Hindus, Muslims and Christians alike!!
  • Kodungallur is located 29 Km from Kochi and 38 Km from Thrissur.

  • Men of all religions are allowed to enter the mosque while women can only circumambulate it and pray from the outside. If you want to enter the mosque make sure you avoid prayer times and busy days.
  • The museum is a must see. Ask the caretaker to take you around and explain, since there are no boards or labels for most of the artifacts. We were told that the museum was planning to have audio guides installed once the museum was complete, so try your luck the next time you are near Kochi!


  1. Awesome post, Anuradha. I have passed by this mosque numerous times but never visited it. I should definitely visit next time I pass by. Kodungallur is definitely a very important place for all the three religions.

  2. Thank you, Niranjan. I wanted to do a post with all the three places of worship, but the temple was closed, so didnt feel like writing that post. Maybe you can do that!

  3. It's so beautiful place and also thanks for sharing it.

  4. Mr. Niranjan is right ...ther's also the kodungallur Bhagavathi temple AND A Church also ...dont remember the name

    1. I have mentioned both in my post, Mr. Kamath, adn I visited the church too.. though i shall write about it in a different post soon.

  5. I never knew of this mosque. Kodungallur is definitely a very important place to visit.

    Thanks for sharing. I haven't traveled in south India much. This should be the start. :)

    1. Nisha, you have travelled so much more than me, I am sure you will soon go see the southern parts of India too, very soon!!! but yes, you should def visit this part of the country. it has so many interesting things to see and do...

  6. I never heard about this mosque before. Thanks for this post, very interesting and informative,

  7. Very beautifully explained! Really enjoyed reading your travel to the mosque. Great to know that it is the first mosque in India. Thanks for sharing it with us


Post a Comment

Thanks so much for stopping by. Please leave a comment for me so that I will know you have been here....

Popular posts from this blog

Gokarna Part II – The Five Lingams

We continued our Gokarna trip by visiting four other Shiva temples in the vicinity, all connected to the same story of Gokarna. The story of Gokarna mentions the Mahabaleshwara Lingam as the one brought from Kailas by Ravana, and kept at this place on the ground by Ganesha. (See my earlier post- Gokarna – Pilgrimage and Pleasure). However, the story does not end here. It is believed that, in his anger, Ravana flung aside the materials which covered the lingam- the casket, its lid, the string around the lingam, and the cloth covering it. All these items became lingams as soon as they touched the ground. These four lingams, along with the main Mahabaleshwara lingam are collectively called the ‘ Panchalingams’ . These are: Mahabaleshwara – the main lingam Sajjeshwar – the casket carrying the lingam. This temple is about 35 Kms from Karwar, and is a 2 hour drive from Gokarna. Dhareshwar – the string covering the lingam. This temple is on NH17, about 45 Kms south of Gokarna. Gunavanteshw

Rama Temple, Gokarna

To my right , the waves rush to the shore, eager to merge with the sand. To my left, the same waves crash against the rocks, their spray diverting my reverie as I ponder over the beauty of nature, and wonder what first brought people here. Was it this beauty that encouraged them to build a temple here, or was it the fresh, sweet spring water flowing from the hill here that made this place special? No matter what the reason, I am glad my auto driver brought me here. We are at the Rama temple in Gokarna, just a few minutes away from the Mahabaleshwara Temple, yet offering so different a perspective.

Review of Executive Lounges at New Delhi Railway Station (NDLS)

During my recent trip to Uttarakhand , I was faced with a problem I had never encountered before. We were passing through Delhi, but we had hardly any time in the city. On earlier visits when I have had to change trains/flights at Delhi, I have always arrived in the morning and left again at night, visiting relatives in between. This time, I was arriving in the city at night, and leaving again early in the morning. There was hardly any time to visit people. I would only have a couple of hours with them before I’d have to leave again. For the first time, we considered booking a hotel, but there again, we were hesitant about the actual hotels, the costs involved, and the logistics of getting from the airport to the railway station and then back again from the station to the airport.  That’s when we remembered reading something about a corporate-managed lounge at Delhi station. We soon figured out that we could book online and pay by the hour. Besides, we also learnt that there wasn’t ju