The Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid  or the Grand Mosque in Cotabato City is one of the most beautiful structure I have seen in the Philippines. 
 

It has been in my bucket list for some time but I just never had the opportunity to visit it until I joined the Go Social Project of the Iligan Bloggers Society as a mentor.

 Travelling to the Grand Mosque is quiet easy.  It’s just a few minutes ride from the Cotabato  City proper on a van or habal-habal. Along the way,  you will pass by villages on the edge of a vast wetland.  The trip will give you a glimpse of how people lived in this area. I saw villagers having coffee at the roadside, little children with happy faces carrying their school bag walking together, and several men riding their “bancas”. As we sped towards the mosque at 8:00 in the morning,  a herd of goats lying idly in the middle of the road is a common sight.

The first thing that came to my mind when I  saw the Grand Mosque was Arabian Nights.  The structure  was like a magnificent palace that jumped out from the tales of Scheherazade and for a second I thought there’s  a flying carpet carrying Alladin hovering above the minarets. 

 

   

As I roamed its empty corridors, the symmetry of the design  gave me a sense of perfect balance and serenity.  It is truly a place for prayer and meditation.

 

I wanted to take a look at the worship area of the Grand Mosque but unfortunately it was closed. 

 

grand_mosque

Our guide told us that during sunset, the Grand  Mosque takes on a golden sheen as the rays of the setting sun hit the structure. I can just imagine the entire place bathed in golden light. It’s probably magical. 

Years of fighting in Central Mindanao gave Cotabato City an image that tends to put doubt on people’s  perception of its peace and order situation. Although the place is generally peaceful in recent times, this continued to hound the city and hampers its potential for tourism.  I hope with this Grand Mosque rising in the wetlands of Cotabato City, this will serve as a signal  from all stakeholders their commitment to peace and  reassure people that it is a safe place to visit.

 

Location:  Tamontaka Bubong Road, Cotabato City, Maguindanao

How to get there: Take  a jeep heading towards Awang and make sure you get off at the Husky Bus Terminal.  You can then take a scenic 2-3 km tricycle ride to the mosque. 

 
Dress Code for Women:
Don’t wear revealing clothes or shorts. They don’t allow women to enter the place wearing clothes that reveal too much skin. They also require a scarf to be worn covering the head.