Sameer Khan for BeyondHeadlines
Every time I visit Delhi I try to visit Historical Monuments. Having a keen interest in Mughal Architecture, It’s been my hobby over the years to take pictures of old mosques and other historical sites. There are hundreds of monuments which I have seen over the years neglected and decay with apathy and utter disregard.
The Recent controversy over sudden interests in mosques in old Delhi has got many heads turning and Delhi Wakf board has suddenly arisen from its slumber like KumbKaran. The question is what was Delhi Wakf Board doing all these years? How many such living structures has Delhi Wakf Board allowed to fade with its apathy and lack of historical knowledge and understanding?
The recent Akbarabadi Mosque, controversy has got some people vocal and they have been highlighting the incident but where were these people for all these years when they allowed the present standing historical structures to decay?
The best example of that comes to me mind is of Sunheri Masjid or Golden Masjid at Chandni chowk just next to Gurudwara and not to be confused with Sunheri Masjid outside Red fort. This historical Mosque stands in the heart of Chandni Chowk among the cluster of shops and hustle bustle of people. I have been watching Sunheri Masjid rot in last many years. Many people even don’t know the historical significance of this mosque which is now completely dwarfed by the splendid Gurudwara that stands next to it in Chandni Chowk.
Few people know that it was at this Mosque where the Persian Invader Nadir Shah stood and ordered the Massacre or Genocide of the Delhi Residents after his invasion of Delhi. He stood there drawing his Sword on the roof as the Victorious Iranian Soldiers went on a killing spree. The beleaguered Mughal King of that time Muhammad Shah also known as Rangeela fell at Nadir Shah’s feet and begged for mercy its only then that Nadir Shah withdrew his sword and stopped the Massacre.
When I visited this mosque I found hardly a handful of Namazi’s present in the Mosque. I went towards the balcony facing the Chandni Chowk probably the same place where Nadir Shah once stood. The Imam of the mosque came towards me a bit vexed by my actions. It’s only when I explained that I was a Muslim and a tourist that he settled down. I asked him if he was aware of the significance of the place that I was standing. To my utter disbelief he drew blank. He had no clue of the historical significance of the mosque that he was preaching and nor did the few Namazis that were present there had any knowledge about it. They were amazed when I shared information about the mosque.
The domes of Sunheri Masjid or Golden Mosque according to legends used to have Golden Coat on them but today they stand in complete lack luster. I asked the imam why hasn’t the Mosque been painted for years and what about it’s Golden Dome? Imam told me that the Wakf Board has not bothered to spend a penny for the upkeep of the Mosque in many years so shining Golden Domes was a distant dream. He also went to explain the lack of attendance at this mosque, He told that most of the Muslims of this area had moved at the time of Partition and today there are hardly any Muslims in this area. The very few Muslims that come to Pray are the Migrant workers though interestingly this mosque is in Old Delhi and not too far away from Jama Masjid.
It’s not just this Sunheri Masjid there are countless other such monuments and mosques that are under the authority of Delhi Wakf Board yet they stand in a poor condition. There is also a site which, according to claims of some Delhi residents is mazar of Razia sultan. Although this claim is disputed by others. There are also many Mazar’s and other Holy sites not just in Old Delhi but also in Mehrauli that are fast fading and losing their reverence.
I was also horrified to see the worsening situation of Jama Masjid. Much of its red stones are littered with Graffiti and there is no proper authority to guide the non Muslim Tourists who come here to see the splendid mosque.
The question is what was Delhi Wakf Board doing for all these years? And what has it done for the monuments, mosques and holy sites that at present are fighting a losing battle? It would be sagacious of Delhi Wakf Board to take care of these living monuments first before shedding crocodile tears for others.
(Sameer Khan is a Freelance Writer based in Pune. He has keen interested in Arts and Culture.)