Ganting Grand Masjid: Padang, Indonesia

The Ganting Grand Masjid, also known as Masjid Raya Gantiang, is one of the oldest masjids in Indonesia and the oldest in the city of Padang. The masjid was built in the early 18th century at the bank of a river in Padang, but was soon relocated to its current location because the Dutch—who exerted control over Indonesia at the time—desired to build a road to a port through the previous location of the masjid. After multiple constructions, a sturdy building was erected in 1805. This building was very modest: it was small, had wood and dirt walls, and stone flooring.

Construction of the masjid was very much a community effort, like the maintenance of the Great Masjid of Djenné. This project was funded by local businesses and built on land donated by local people. Prominent local leaders also directed the construction. This particular building was completed in 1810. Since then, the Ganting Grand Masjid is used as a gathering place to advise people embarking on Hajj on how to perform the pilgrimage properly. The pilgrims also used the masjid as a departure point.

Renovations to the building began in 1900 when the Dutch arranged to install tiled floors and to expand the front chamber and façade. At the same time, Chinese Indonesians started to construct an octagonal dome on the roof of the masjid. As for the interior, certain areas were given Chinese-style carvings. The masjid also had 25 columns on the inside, which were decorated with ceramic tiles in 1960. Each column is dedicated to one of the 25 prophets mentioned in the Qur’an and has that prophet’s name engraved on it. A few years afterwards, two minarets were built on either side of the octagonal dome of the masjid. The various renovations culminated in the Ganting Grand Masjid being a mix of various architectural styles. The masjid not only displays aspects of Islamic architecture, but also Chinese and European architecture.

Interior of Ganting Grand Masjid
Interior of Ganting Grand Masjid

In the early 1920s, the Ganting Grand Masjid partially functioned as a school and continued to serve in future significant events. During Japan’s short occupation of Indonesia in the early 1940s, the masjid was the military’s headquarters for that region. It was also where indigenous people received military training from the Japanese. After Indonesia gained independence, the masjid was frequently visited by many domestic and foreign officials, including dignitaries from Malaysia, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Today, the Ganting Grand Masjid is a popular tourist attraction and functions as a school and of course, as a masjid.

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