Seventeenth-century French traveler, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, was in Hyderabad when the magnificent Mecca Masjid was undergoing construction. Awestruck by the magnificence of the architecture, he had noted in his travelogue that “it is about 50 years since they began to build a splendid pagoda in the town which will be the grandest in all India when it is completed.” The mosque was finally constructed in 1694. Centuries later, on May 18, 2007, the same mosque was the site of a pipe bomb explosion that killed 8 and injured 58 others.
An investigation carried out by the CBI had come to the conclusion that the blast was carried out by members of a Hindu right-wing organisation, Abhinav Bharat. On Monday, a special NIA court in Hyderabad acquitted five accused associated with the case citing lack of evidence. As we once again dwell upon the horrific incident at Mecca Masjid, here is a short history of one of the oldest mosques of Hyderabad.
In the beginning of the sixteenth century, Sultan Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk migrated to Delhi from Iran with his kin. A few years later he and his people moved into Deccan India where he was employed by the then Sultan of the Bahamani kingdom. When the Bahamani kingdom fell apart, Sultan Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk declared independence and laid the foundation stone of the Qutub Shahi dynasty of Golconda in 1518.
The fifth Sultan of the Qutub Shahi dynasty, Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah was a great patron of art and culture. In 1591, he established the city of Hyderabad close to the Musi river. At his invitation, some of the greatest architects from around the world laid out the plan of the city. Known to be one of the ablest administrators of the Qutub Shahi dynasty, he was the man behind some of the best architectural delights in Hyderabad including the Char Minar.
It was Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah who commissioned the construction of the Mecca Masjid. It is believed that Qutb Shah asked for soil to be brought from the Islamic holy site, Mecca, which was used to make bricks that then formed the central arch of the mosque, thereby giving the structure its name. Qutb Shah is known to have personally laid the foundation stone of the mosque, while a group of 8,000 workers was employed in its construction. The mosque later formed the center piece around which the architecture of Hyderabad was planned.