Wordtravels

Wordtravels

Juma Masjid Mosque

Islam's basic creed written on a plaque © Paul Louis
Islam's basic creed written on a plaque © Paul Louis

Construction of the Juma Masjid Mosque began in 1881, with renovations continuing until 1943. It is KwaZulu-Natal's first mosque, as well as one of the oldest and largest mosques in the Southern Hemisphere. Travellers will note that its golden-domed minarets dominate the central Indian district of downtown Durban, and that its muezzin can be heard from many parts of the city as it calls the faithful to prayer. Its architecture is a mix of classic Mughal Indian and colonial South African features, and there is space inside for up to 5,000 worshippers. Visitors are welcome on weekdays and Saturdays but the mosque is closed on Sundays. The building's flat roof is used as a prayer site during festivals but doubles as a playground for girls from the neighbouring school during the day. A bustling neighbourhood surrounds the mosque. Travellers should stop at one of the area's takeaway curry restaurants, where they should try 'bunny chow'. The dish features a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with curry, and it is widely associated with Durban.

The busy and exotic Victoria Street Market is another worthwhile diversion, as are the many small shops that sell fabric, saris, jewellery and more. The area is easily accessible by bus or taxi, but visitors should be wary of pickpockets and travel in groups.

Address: Grey Street