For ages, it wallowed in obscurity. Now, an obscure mosque at the butterfly park in Lodhi Garden has thrown up a surprise for conservators, sprucing it up ahead of the Commonwealth Games.
A rare colour finish in fresco style has been found in the mosque that doesn’t even have a name.
A fresco is a mural — a form of artwork — painted on walls or ceilings.
Grime and dust were the mosque’s only friends as it lay hidden under bamboo shrubs covered by branches of a tree.
The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is now taking steps to conserve what is turning out to be one of a kind mosque.
“Once we began cleaning the surface, we realised the mosque’s exterior was painted in red, resembling the fresco style. It is very rare for a late-Mughal period monument,” said Ajay Kumar, senior project manager of the Delhi Chapter of INTACH.
INTACH is sprucing up several monuments that have been recently notified by the Delhi State Archaeology Department. “The exterior has been done up in geru (natural reddish-brown dye) and also has ornamental plasterwork,” Kumar said adding that no other monument in Delhi has an exterior resembling this mosque’s exterior.
“The texture of the surface is different from the others inside the Garden too. The plaster on the walls also has a reddish tinge which indicates that the paint was done on wet plaster,” he said.
The monument has been listed as part of the Lodhi era in the INTACH’s The Built Heritage: A Listing published in 2000. But, looking at the architecture, INTACH conservationists feel it is a late Mughal-era structure.
A senior Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) official, who wished anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the media, said, “There are many monuments inside the garden and not all of them belong to the same period. The work done on the exterior is not very common. We are trying to ascertain the exact period to which the mosque belongs.”
The restoration work for the monument is expected to be completed by June.