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Are mosques living spaces?

Nili Masjid and Qudsia Mosque are ‘scarred’ with electronic equipment, mats and water tanks. Nivedita Khandekar reports.

delhi Updated: Sep 21, 2009 23:34 IST
Nivedita Khandekar

Qudsia Mosque is like an island of peace amidst the cacophony of buses and heavy vehicles plying on the Ring Road.

The 18th century mosque is surrounded by a garden, called Qudsia Garden, and is located opposite Inter-State Bus Terminal at Kashmere Gate.

A heritage monument protected by the Archeological Survey, the mosque is one of the 12 monuments that have repeatedly featured in the ASI’s list of encroached upon monuments. Here’s why.

The monument has been used for prayers for many years now, but of late, the encroachment has increased manifold. When HT visited the place, there were many signs showing people lived there.

On the western side of mosque, a family had stored many things of personal use. On the eastern side, a clothesline was in place with washed clothes drying on them. Inside, there were many things like mats used for prayers. A car was parked a few feet away from the monument.

Sanjay Bhargava, member of Society for Culture and Heritage, said: “The reason for encroachment at heritage monuments is simple. They come up in connivance of ASI officials, police and politicians.”

Nili Masjid in Hauz Khas in has a similar story to tell.

The 16th century structure has been encroached upon for several years now. There were water tanks, fans (and even coolers), clothes drying in the courtyard and mats on the floor.

Inside the mosque were racks to keep stuff apart from lights and other electrical equipment.

The structure is intact but the blue tiles — which gave it the name of Nili (blue) Masjid — have come off at most places.
Plaster is peeling at places and the façade has been painted with white and green lime plaster.

Sohail Hashmi of Sahmat (the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust) said: “Once a mosque or a temple is declared a protected site under the ASI Act, it ceases to be a place of worship. It should be treated as a heritage monument.”