Visiting the Cotabato Grand Mosque
It was our second day in Cotabato City, and to avoid unpleasant humidity inside our non-aircon room, we left our hotel early to explore the city. Our first stop? Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque or The Golden Mosque of Cotabato City.
Traveling to and from the Golden Mosque is a bit challenging. To reach the Mosque, we took an Awang bound jeepney from the City center to Sinsuat Avenue in Barangay Kalangan (near the Husky Terminal) then had a habal-habal ride to the Grand Mosque.
I’m still not used to riding habal-habal, but thanks to the paved road and scenic villages along the way, it helped me forget how scary the habal-habal ride was.
Habal-habal or motorcycle is the only way to get there. I paid Php. 70 roundtrip, and it’s worthwhile to ask your driver to stay until you’re finished with your visit and photoshoot. There’s not much else out there, and there are certainly no buses to take you back to the city.
Passing by several villages with houses usually built in wetlands, I noticed that whenever we pass by a group of people, its always followed by a smile, which made us feel welcome in their community.
Upon reaching the place, a friendly soldier who provides security to the area welcomed us and asked us to sign their logbook. The Ilocano soldier informed us that we can roam around the Mosque and take photos freely.
The entire complex is really amazing, and It made me feel I was in Brunei while exploring the Golden Mosque.
The Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid, Grand Mosque, or Golden Mosque of Cotabato City, is the largest mosque in the Philippines and is considered an Islamic architecture masterpiece.
The grand opening was held in December of 2011, and since then, it has become one of the most visited tourist attractions in Cotabato City.
This multi-million project, which was believed to cost more than Php200 million, was built in a land donated by the Dilangalen Clan. The construction of the mosque lasted for almost 3 years, and they are now finishing other details.
Anyone who flies in and out of Cotabato City is sure to see the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque from the air; its golden yellow domes and white structures stand out among the green surroundings.
Once you arrive in Cotabato City, your options are limited. Luckily, the one option you have is inexpensive. It’s about seven and a half kilometers out to the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid, out near Moro Gulf and alongside the Tamontaka River.
Even though this is a very modern Masjid, the design is tasteful and balanced. If you are interested in seeing significant Muslim worship places, you should not miss the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque. The vast buildings and courtyard open up to greet you and allow for contemplation as well as stunning photography.
The golden domes against the blue Philippine sky are dramatic and eye-catching. 800 male and 400 female worshippers can be accommodated, and the minarets are 141 feet tall.
Travel to Cotabato City itself is considered off the beaten track for people visiting the Philippines, but the trip is well worth it. Sometimes, travel advisories are just meant to be ignored. Honestly, I feel much safer each time I visit some of my favorite places in Mindanao.
You can only understand the grandeur of such a place by visiting it yourself. As the popularity of the Golden Mosque has increased, tourist influx to and from Cotabato City has grown despite negative publicity and travel advisories.
This is off the beaten path for now, but expect to see this region rise in popularity in the coming years. There is so much to see in Mindanao – The land of Promise.
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