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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Delhi: In disrepair, Begumpur mosque awaits some help

On Monday, William Dalrymple, author and historian, tweeted a photo of the mosque saying: “The roof of the Begumpur Masjid just collapsed in the rain due to ASI neglect. With better management, this vast medieval wonder could still be a major revenue-earning tourist site. Instead, it's being allowed to collapse and disappear.”

Written by Ashna Butani | New Delhi |
Updated: September 15, 2021 5:39:45 pm
A team from the Delhi circle office visited the site Tuesday and said there had been no collapse this season. (Express Photo by Ashna Butani)

With a missing dome, plants growing from the structure, and grass and mud on the courtyard, the forgotten Begumpur masjid is in a state of disrepair, though officials of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) said conservation work is taking place.

On Monday, William Dalrymple, author and historian, tweeted a photo of the mosque saying: “The roof of the Begumpur Masjid just collapsed in the rain due to ASI neglect. With better management, this vast medieval wonder could still be a major revenue-earning tourist site. Instead, it’s being allowed to collapse and disappear.”

An ASI official, however, clarified, “A small portion had fallen in 2019 and ASI gave support to the remaining structure by erecting pillars.”

“The remains of the structure had fallen into the nearby drain .. which got cleared a few days back by the circle office. Those remains from the drain cleared by the ASI are now being seen as the fallen structure,” added the official.

A team from the Delhi circle office visited the site Tuesday and confirmed that there had been no such collapse this season. Teams have been working on the site for some time now, with drains being cleared and conservation work being done, said the official.

A few stones lay strewn across the ground below the missing dome. On Tuesday afternoon, labourers worked on the drain below the dome. They said that it appears the stones have fallen recently because of the work going on near the drain.

At dusk on Tuesday, the forgotten mosque remained completely devoid of visitors, but for a group of elderly locals who sat on a bedsheet and played cards on its steps. The allure of the place lies in its simple rubble masonry, large courtyard, and pylon minarets.

However, the courtyard is grassy and muddy, while thick vegetation prevents visitors from going in further, and the sky can be seen through the parts of the dome that fell.

The mosque, located in Begumpur, Malviya Nagar, has 64 domes with one central dome. According to the ASI, the mosque is believed to have been built by Khan-e-Jahan Juna Shah.

According to Rana Safvi, author and Delhi chronicler, the mosque measures 307 ft by 295 ft in size. She said that the 14th-century mosque is the first Indian type of ‘Brahtmukhi’ or pylon mosque type.

The courtyard is frequented by green parakeets, pigeons, and local cricketers who use it as a playing field. Since there is no system of ticketing, there is no way to stop people from entering the mosque from a rear entrance, after dark.

With inputs from Divya A

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