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Shahjahanabad (Const 1648 CE)- The Legacy of Delhi Series (Vol 8)

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Guru Dongmar Lake, one of the highest in the world

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Begumpuri Masjid, New Delhi (14th Cent CE)

A close up of the facade in front of the main dome

Located off Sri Aurobindo Marg, in Begumpuri Village; this heavily encroached upon Mosque is a class apart, architecture wise. Constructed on the orders of Jauna Khan Telangani (prime minister of Feroz Shah Tughluq and son of Khan i Jahan Maqbul Telangani) , Begumpuri Masjid (Mosque) of Delhi was one in the series of seven mosques constructed by him with the others being - Jama Masjid (Ferozabad), Khirki Masjid (in Khirki Village, opposite Select Citywalk Mall), Kalu Sarai Masjid, Kalan Masjid (Turkman Gate of Old Delhi), Kalan Masjid (Nizamuddin) and Wakya Masjid (Lahori Gate).

View, upon entering the mosque
The moment you climb up the moderately steep stairs of this mosque, you would find yourselves in a lofty domed gateway which would lead you to the expansive courtyard (surrounded by a 3 aisled corridor whch is interrupted by gateway entrances and the mihrab) where, during its heydays, this ruinous mosque would be full of life and would have grand carpets spread upon its, now stony, floors and great shamiana's (tents) spread overhead so that the faithful could pray at ease.

.The large courtyard, where at one time large tents and carpets would be present to offer the prayers

 Worn out Mihrab on the Qibla (west facing) Wall
If we look at what remains of this architecturally distinct mosque, it is the manner it has been constructed. Jauna Khan Telangani took personal interest in the designing of the seven mosques he had commissioned and tried to incorporate a unique feature in each of them.

 View of the concealed dome
In this mosque the main dome over the Mihrab is screened by a large wall thus giving an initial impression (from a frontal viewpoint) that the dome does not exist. There are narrow (and dark) stairs which can take you to the top of this wall and the giant dome behind it !! The wall also has a slight slant to it , something reminiscent of the Tughluq style of architecture; and has false minars at both its ends, to beautify as well as to strengthen the structure.

Begumpuri Masjid is a 2 aisled mosque

Shot of an aisle
The roof of the aisles, which surround the courtyard have 2 rows of domes which are running parallel to each other. The walls of the mosque have arched gaps at periodic intervals, thus providing a view of the outside.

 Interior of the Main Dome
The Begumpuri Mosque, now over 600 years old, is also a classic example of how neglect, by the concerned authorities, resulted in the mosque being encroached upon by all sides by residential houses and squatters creating permanent residences 'inside' the mosque. It was only after a prolonged legal battle between ASI and those squatters the courts ordered all the squatters to be shunted out, one by one. But, that said even today the mosque can see the presence of anti social elements by seeing broken bottles and litter.

 Another shot of the courtyard, this time facing the entrance
It is recommended to visit the mosque during day time and preferably with someone. If alone take the help of the guard posted at the gate or 'just keep your eyes open'.