The Al-Aqsa Mosque which is located in Kudus, Central Java, was founded in 1549 by Sunan Kudus, one of the Wali Songo who spread Islam in Java. This mosque is well known as the Mosque of Menara Kudus. The mosque has a unique design, which is a combination between Hindu and Islamic cultures. The mosque, but has a tower with a temple-shaped and has some various Hindu style ornaments.
The mosque of Menara Kudus had been renovated several times until it was changed. There are some real evidences of the assimilation of Hindu and Muslim. The most interesting is the 18-meters high tower made of red bricks. The placement of “bedug” (a kind of traditional drum) and “kentongan” (percussion instrument made of wood or bamboo) at the head of the tower is rarely found in traditional Javanese mosque, but similar to the tower of kul-kul in Bali, where the people are Hindus. But, at the top of the tower there is a kind of “Mustoko” as exists in Javanese mosques. Also the existence of the corridor called “Pradaksinapatta” at the foot of the tower that is often found in Hindu temples.
There is an ancient shallow pool next to the mosque. In the middle of the pool, there is an ancient ablution place made of red brick. The unique, there are eight showers head cow-shaped ancient statues. Cows are glorified animals by Hindus. It is said, as a form of tolerance, Sunan Kudus prohibited the slaughtering of cows, and it applies today.
Another interesting thing is the decoration of ceramic plates on the wall of tower and gates. That said, two of the few ceramic decoration in the mosque tower are made in Vietnam around the 15th century. As we know, the Vietnamese in general are Hindu and Buddhist. It is become interesting because the Vietnamese ceramic plate production at that time was mounted on the wall of a worship place of Muslims.
In the back of the mosque there is the tomb of Sunan Kudus that always visited by pilgrims. Sadly, I did not have an opportunity to go inside there.
The uniqueness of the architecture of this mosque is fascinating. It illustrates the relationship of tolerance and harmony among religions at that time.
**I took some pictures on 13 November 2011 using Nikon D3000, and the others on 8 June 2012 using Canon EOS 600D.