Thursday, October 29, 2009

City Landmark – Fatehpuri Masjid, Walled City

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City Landmark – Fatehpuri Masjid, Walled City

Its simplicity is magical

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

This could be the poor man’s Jama Masjid, that gigantic Old Delhi landmark. Fatehpuri mosque, the Walled City’s third largest, circa 1650, is made of red sandstone but it has no huge domes, no tall minarets. The central dome looks as if it’s made of marble, but it’s lime mortar, actually. No wonder, guidebooks don’t go gaga over the place. Lucy Peck’s Delhi – A Thousand Years of Building dismisses it in 11 lines.

Tucked into one end of Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi’s signature street, Fatehpuri Masjid lacks the flamboyance of its counterpart at the other end – Lal Qila. Instead of being glorious, its history is bloated with drama queen pathos – damaged by the British following the 1857 rebellion, sold to a Hindu banker, returned to Muslims only 20 years later.

The mosque was commissioned by a wife of Shah Jahan, the emperor who built the Taj Mahal over the tomb of his favourite queen, Mumtaz Mahal. It was Nawab Fatehpuri Begum, who had this mosque built and the shrine takes its name from her. But if Fatehpuri Masjid were a woman, it would have said, “Nobody loves me, nobody cares.”

Its corridors, walls and three gateways do not inspire awe. No flight of stone steps leads to the courtyard, which in turn cannot offer any spectacular Old Delhi scenes.

Then why should you care?

Because the mosque’s seeming weakness is its strength. In a city where most monuments are too loud, too ‘great’, its simplicity offers a refreshing contrast. It is a touristy getaway with hardly any tourists and no touts.

Come during the twilight hours. Then the sky over the courtyard is pale blue, the moon newborn. The Mecca-facing prayer hall begins to look unearthly against the blue-pink-orange of the last sunrays. Very soon, it would be just a silhouette.

Before the approaching night swallows the shade of the courtyard’s giant gular tree, the muezzin’s call starts echoing from all sides. Devotees stream in from the mosque’s in-house madrassa and from the shops outside. All head first to the vazukhana, the little fish-filled water tank, for the ritual ablution. Then, to the prayer hall.

As the men pray – kneeling, bowing, standing up, kneeling again – the courtyard becomes as quiet as its 21 tombs clustered next to the vazukhana. Calmness descends. Existential banalities are stripped away. Delhi disappears. Removed from the world, you feel closer to your self. Of course, the illusion vanishes the moment you step out into bustling Chandni Chowk. But no worries. There is always the next evening.

Nearest Metro Station Chandni Chowk Best Time Evening

Doorway to quietness

City Landmark – Fatehpuri Masjid, Walled City

Getting ready for prayers

City Landmark – Fatehpuri Masjid, Walled City

Calm and limpid

City Landmark – Fatehpuri Masjid, Walled City

Do you, too, feel Fatehpuri's beauty?

City Landmark – Fatehpuri Masjid, Walled City

Pray for me, too

City Landmark – Fatehpuri Masjid, Walled City

Be pure

City Landmark – Fatehpuri Masjid, Walled City

The moon is rising

City Landmark – Fatehpuri Masjid, Walled City

It's God's sky

City Landmark – Fatehpuri Masjid, Walled City

Come again

City Landmark – Fatehpuri Masjid, Walled City


Mohd. Raghib said...

Very Nice .. what after that .. had you prayed namaz...

Mohd. Raghib said...

I don't know what type of man you are.. Kabhi bhi kahi bhi ... your name should be "sameer" hawa ka jhonka kabhi bhi kahi bhi ...

Anonymous said...

There is a small mosque near Indra Lok, just before the railway overbridge, with a painted exterior. Equally charming, though not as serene because of the nearby trunks and wool market.

heena said...

soothing to the eyes.

Rajiv said...

ab to jaanaa pade gaaaaaaa bhaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiii

Ehsan Ali Jahan said...

Wonderful portraits of a wonderful relic. MashaAllah!

Abdusalaam al-Hindi said...

I was not even aware of the place. Nice post.

kumar v said...

Are the fish really there in the wazukhana ?

One more thing what are the things to be careful about if the visitor is a hindu ? Are the hindus really welcome and tolerated there ?

I would really love to go to Jama Masjid and Fatehpuri Masjid.

Anonymous said...

@ Kumar V
Yes, there are usually fishes in the 'Hauz'(Tank).

Before answering what you asked for, I'd like to ask you Mr. Kumar - Have you ever been to any Masjid?(Mosque)> Have you ever been stopped from entering the Masjid?

Now, the answer to your queries - People from any religion, caste, creed, color etc.etc. are always welcome to enter in the Masjid's all over the world.

Islam is the most tolerating religion in the world, but thats a different story. If you ever wish to visit Jam Masjid or Fatehpuri Masjid, just post here and I'll be more than willing & Happy to take you there.

Thanks Mr. Soofi. God Bless.

kumar v said...

No, I haven't visited any mosque but I would love to.

Thanks for your offer!

Anonymous said...

The offer is open and will remain open. As I said earlier if you ever wish to visit - just let me know.