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Heritage sites in Gurugram turn haven for monkeys

Left to deteriorate, heritage structures across Gurugram often end up becoming a haven for animals.

gurgaon Updated: Jun 27, 2019 08:18 IST
Sadia Akhtar
Sadia Akhtar
Hindustan Times, Gurugram
ASI,gurugram news,spcc
A view of Qutab Khan masjid, at Block Chungi 1, Saap ki Nangli village, near bus stand, at Sohna, in Gurugram . The premises of the mosque, however, has received approval from a host of monkeys that have started living inside it.(Parveen Kumar / Hindustan Times)

Two weeks ago, a colleague and I visited Sanp Ki Nangli, a village in Sohna, for a reporting assignment. The village is peppered with a number of historical structures and among them is Qutab Khan Ki Masjid, a 16th-century mosque, which stands tall in one corner of Chungi 1, Saini Colony.

The monument dates back to circa 1550 AD and was taken under protection by the state department of museum and archaeology in March this year. Tucked in a corner of the congested colony, it is largely bereft of human presence on most days. The premises of the mosque, however, has received approval from a host of monkeys that have started living inside it.

This isn’t the first time that I have seen heritage structures in the district being used as a shelter by animals. Left to deteriorate, heritage structures across Gurugram often end up becoming a haven for animals. However, during this particular visit, the host animals gave us a tough time and made reporting a challenge. Some 15 to 20 monkeys that now occupy the mosque were fiercely territorial and not particularly impressed by the presence of outsiders that sought to disturb their siesta. Any step forward in the direction of the mosque’s courtyard was met by angry glares and groans from the monkeys.

Determined to stay the course, we waited for an hour outside the mosque’s verandah in the hope that the primates would leave in a bit. Swinging from the branches of the neem trees that surround the mosque, the monkeys were unrelenting and in no mood of letting us in. Keen on getting inside, we sought help from some tenants living in the mosque’s vicinity. They suggested that we could possibly get the animals to vacate the premises for a few minutes by offering them bananas.

With a solution in hand, we went to the local market and bought two dozen bananas. These bananas were carefully laid out at varying distances from each other on a large open plot, following which we waited for the monkeys to descend on the ground for the feast. The monkeys were, however, still holed up inside. My photojournalist colleague then resolved to make a host of noises to direct their attention towards the fruit. In seconds, the monkeys were out on the field and grabbed a banana or two each. However, dashing our expectations,they ran back to the mosque with the food.

With evening fast approaching, we decided to make a last-ditch effort and requested the tenants to accompany us. Our strength had now increased from two to eight and together we tiptoed inside the mosque, all the while keeping an eye on the monkeys. However, this time, the monkeys yielded and ran to the terrace of the mosque while we tried to get our work done in a matter of minutes. By the end of it, we were both grateful to our wild friends for giving us a window of opportunity as well as the people who had accompanied us.

First Published: Jun 09, 2019 02:54 IST