Throughout history and even in the present times, it falls to the prosperous few of a particular community to collectively or individually build places of worship. Historically, one sees and remembers what was built by princes and kings, but there are many relics of the past that have been built by their subordinates.
Delhi is very rich as far as historical monuments are concerned and nowhere more so than the Walled City. Remnants of a glorious past rise out of the squabble of houses or stay concealed in the twisting by-lanes but they exist, and a visit here never fails to induce wonder. Scroll on!
During the reign of Feroz Shah Tughlaq, the last powerful king of his dynasty who ruled from 1351 to 1388, Delhi saw a frenzy of building activity as the Sultan worked on creating a legacy of his own, building the city of Ferozabad to mark his name as one of the great rulers of his time.
His Prime Minister, Khan-e-Jahan Juna Shah Maqbool Telangani took up some construction of his own, though with a completely different objective. Juna Shah was building mosques to please Allah and secure a place for himself in paradise and is believed to have built as many as seven mosques. The most famous of these mosques is the Kalan Masjid or the Kali Masjid near the Turkman Gate in Old Delhi.
In the Mohalla Qabristan near Turkman Gate at the end of a long walk, in narrow lanes past electronic repair shops, into the locality that got its name from the houses built over an old graveyard after the Partition of India lies this mosque. The Kalan Masjid rises out from amid the rabble of close-packed homes, also called the Kali Masjid or Black Mosque because the ravages of time turned its original coat of lime black with mildew.
The mosque can be entered after climbing a flight of over two dozen slightly steep stairs, which take you into the mosque standing at a height of 20 feet above ground. The minarets are shorter than what Mughal mosques have led us to expect, but are magnificent nonetheless, as are the thick walls that lend the mosque its solidity.
Apart from the main praying area, the mosque also houses apartments that probably played host to the Imam (chief cleric) in the past, though present times have seen them turned into residential quarters for the people of the locality. While quartzite was used to build the mosque, there was ornamental latticework in red sandstone originally, though the panels have been bricked over at some point after vandalism took a toll on the monument.
Come on by to see this curious historical marvel that’s been turned black by the ravages of time!
Location | Kalan Masjid - Muhammad Deen Ilachi Marg, Phatak Teliyan, Ahata Mir Bukhari, Old Delhi