Tughlaqi-era mosque now a settlement as govt turns a blind eye

Just 500m from the Vijay Mandal Enclave in Kalu Sarai, in the narrow bylanes of the area, lies a historical jewel that time has forgotten. It is difficult to believe that once, the Masjid Kalu Sarai was a sight to behold. Today, the government apathy has left the structure in a state of extreme disrepair.

The bigger problem, however, is the people who have settled in the mosque premises. Families from different regions, including Rajasthan and Punjab, have been living here for decades. They have done irreversible damage to the structure by breaking down walls and expanding into the it. Further, they do not allow anyone to enter the premises to conduct a survey. Sources said the residents have kept dogs as pets specifically for the purpose of terrorising the visitors.

In fact, when a DNA team visited the complex, a woman told them to leave while signalling her dog, who immediately started barking.

Two years ago, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, as part of its programme to reopen the closed mosques in Delhi, had visited the Kalu Sarai mosque. Their team was attacked by dogs as well. They were then told that a former MP had made the mosque’s courtyard his home and had brought in many other people. The delegation had come across a man who claimed that he was operating a furniture business from inside, but refused to let the team members in.

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“Many families came here after Partition. My grandfather, who was already living here, gave some space to a Muslim family. That is the only Muslim family living here. Over the years, the others converted the mosque into a residential complex,” Mohammad Aslam, a local, said. “There were many Keekar trees around the mosque. People cleared them to make this settlement,” he added.

Built in a typical Tughlaqi architectural style, the mosque was the brainchild of Khan-i-Jahan Junan Shah, Prime Minister of Firoz Shah Tughlaq. The mosque was built along with a few other structures in Mohammed-bin-Tughlaq’s new city, named ‘Jahanpanah’ , between 1326 and 1327. The beautiful stone and rubble structure has seven arched openings in the front, crowned by a sequence of low domes.

It is one of the seven similar mosques said to have been built by Junan Shah in the city.

HISTORICAL

  • The mosque was built along with a few other structures in Mohammed-bin-Tughlaq’s new city, named ‘Jahanpanah’ , between 1326 and 1327.
  • The beautiful stone and rubble structure has seven arched openings in the front, crowned by a sequence of low domes.
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