Monday, January 04, 2010

City Secret - Begumpuri Masjid, Sarvapriya Vihar

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City Secret - Begumpuri Masjid, Sarvapriya Vihar

Simple and grand.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

You do not expect a short flight of stairs to lead into this vast arcaded courtyard. This mid-14th century mosque is grand, simple and rundown. The pillars are massive but hardly any design etched on the arches and columns. Raised on a plinth, the mosque’s chief entrance, on the eastern side, faces the unaesthetic skyline of the Begumpuri village that is easy to ignore once you enter.

The courtyard’s calm makes the congested world outside seem unreal. And the domes will completely take you in. There are 44 domed compartments on three sides. The Mecca-facing western side has a prayer chamber as well as the building’s central arch - flanked by sloping buttresses with in-built winding staircases. Feel free to climb. The view of the courtyard clashes with that of the village’s – clotheslines, water tanks and cow dung patties.

Believed to be built by a Tughlak-era minister called Khan Jahan Junan Shah, Begumpuri Masjid probably served as the principal Friday mosque during the reign of Mohammad Tughlak. Owing to the anarchic times of 18th century Delhi, vulnerable communities had moved inside the mosque and a village had sprung up, which was cleared off by the Archaeological Survey of India in the 1920s.

Today the mosque is dead. Prayers have been discontinued, the walls are broken, parts of the roof have collapsed and the stonework has blackened. Goats graze, chickens squeak, village boys play cricket and lovers scrawl I-love-you messages. Rarely visited by group tours, the absence of touts and souvenir sellers makes an excursion here more intense than in Delhi’s more popular ruins.

Where Begumpur Village, Sarvapriya Vihar, near Indian Institute of Technology, south Delhi

Make way, dearies

City Secret - Begumpuri Masjid, Sarvapriya Vihar

The doorway view

City Secret - Begumpuri Masjid, Sarvapriya Vihar

The vast courtyard

City Secret - Begumpuri Masjid, Sarvapriya Vihar

Rarely visited

City Secret - Begumpuri Masjid, Sarvapriya Vihar

A ripple of domes

City Secret - Begumpuri Masjid, Sarvapriya Vihar

Once there was a roof

City Secret - Begumpuri Masjid, Sarvapriya Vihar

Makeover with bricks?

City Secret - Begumpuri Masjid, Sarvapriya Vihar

Sparse view

City Secret - Begumpuri Masjid, Sarvapriya Vihar

Tunnel vision

City Secret - Begumpuri Masjid, Sarvapriya Vihar

Somebody's love life

City Secret - Begumpuri Masjid, Sarvapriya Vihar

Catch out

City Secret - Begumpuri Masjid, Sarvapriya Vihar

Stones don't speak

City Secret - Begumpuri Masjid, Sarvapriya Vihar

Back in the city

City Secret - Begumpuri Masjid, Sarvapriya Vihar

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ancient community center. Modern community center? Book launches, painting competitions, book fairs, cultural events?

Anonymous said...

Lovely organic flooring. Nice ambiance.

Anonymous said...

Have you converted?

Rangachari Anand said...

Great article. I think we get more authentic journalism from you in one blog post than in the entire Times of India.

kumar v said...

Can we have a thread on good books on Delhi please ?

Mohd. Raghib said...

These walls and stones are the true witnesses of a dynasty and of a culture that were blown away long back in a heavy storm of time. The concealed history and moments of that time can be heard by its stones and exhausted structure. There might be a shy girl Sakeena who might fell in love with a charming boy Gaffur. Or there might be a Laila who fell in love with a boy. No one knows what happened to those who were living a very relaxed life.

Manik said...

@ Kumar v You can try The City Of Djinns by William Dallyrample.

@ Author Don't think your work needs comments. Nice job boss! Love this city, I suggest fo9cussing a bit on night life. :)

Anonymous said...

It would be a good idea to demolish this mosque and create a hospital or some park that could be used by people. These ruins are of no use to people anymore.