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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.

“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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Delhi

AAP MLAs seeking appointment with LG 'ousted' by police: Somnath Bharti

AAP MLAs Somnath Bharti, S K Bagga were forced out of Anil Baijal’s house after they refused to leave following a meeting.

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Delhi

AAP MLAs forced out of L-G's house

AAP MLAs Somnath Bharti, S K Bagga were forced out of Anil Baijal’s house after they refused to leave following a meeting.

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Delhi

Peek raises $23M and inks partnership with Google in push to digitize travel activities

Peek, a U.S. startup aiming to digitize the travel activities industry, has pulled a $23 million Series B round of financing and uncorked a partnership with Google that will help increase its visibility.

Founded in 2012 by Ruzwana Bashir (CEO) and Oskar Bruening (CTO), the startup describes itself as “OpenTable for the activities market” in that it aims to make booking activities as seamless and straightforward as a restaurant or even a flight.

Peek raised $10 million two years ago, and this new round is led by Cathay Innovation with participation from existing backers that include ex-Yelp COO Geoff Donaker, Kayak founder Paul English, 2BF and Manta Ray. Peek has plenty of well-known angel backers, including Pete Flint — founder of Trulia and NFX — former Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. This new round takes it to $40 million from investors to date.

In addition to the money, the startup has announced a tie-up with Google that will see its inventory added to Google Search, Google Maps and Google Trips. That’s sure to help visibility and spike bookings, and it adds to other partnerships that Peek has struck with platforms that include Yelp.

Peek is taking aim at the global activities market which Bashir estimates is worth some $150 billion, with the U.S. being the most lucrative market on the planet.

“It hasn’t gone through the analog-to-digital transition like other industries,” she told TechCrunch in an interview. “So we’re building the infrastructure and software that emerged in other industries ten years ago.”

Peek’s business model is similar to two well-backed Asian companies, Klook — which has raised over $90 million from the likes of Sequoia China and Goldman Sachs — and KKDay, which was recently backed by Japanese travel giant H.I.S.. Despite that, Bashir said that the problem of digitizing the space isn’t just limited to Asia or emerging markets.

“When you look at businesses in the U.S., over 70% don’t have real-time online booking, you still have to call the business or email them,” she explained.

That’s an important point, and it underlines the approach that Peek has taken. Unlike its Asia-based rivals, the company has a dual approach which starts by offering booking software that allows travel companies to actually take bookings and sales online. It also allows them to run their businesses from mobile, which is increasingly important.

That’s the hook that gets them into Peek, and from there the company offers more services under its ‘Pro’ offering and also the consumer-facing platform that travelers (or, rather, action-seekers) can use to book activities. That distinction about ‘travelers’ is important since Bashir said that around one-third of Peek bookings come from people doing things in their own town, so not everyone is traveling.

Peek founders Oskar Bruening and Ruzwana Bashir.

Peek claims to offer 10,000 experiences in the U.S. and Mexico, while it has 500,000 reviews and ratings which are verified since users can only leave them if they have booked, paid-for and done their activity.

Bashir said, in addition, that the company’s software has scaled to handle “hundreds of millions of dollars” in booking volume. She declined to give specific financial details, including revenue and profit/loss, but did say that the company’s unit economics are “highly profitable” but it is seeking growth right now.

“Part of this round is allowing ourselves to go out and reach more businesses,” she added.

For now, Peek is keeping its focus on the U.S. but it has also expanded into Mexico since that is a well-trodden destination for U.S.-based travelers. That focus will continue following this round, with Bashir adamant that with an estimated two percent of activity spend taking place online, there’s plenty of potential growth to be had at home before tackling international markets.

She did, however, say that the decision to work with Cathay Innovation — which raised its inaugural $320 million fund last year — was partly borne out of an awareness that when it is time to overseas, the firm has experience and networks that will be helpful.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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