Co-ordinates - N28 32.350 E77 12.367
Closest Metro Station - Hauz Khas (Yellow Line)
Landmark - Close to Bijaymandal in Begumpur Village
I first saw it from Bijaymandal. From the top of the Octagonal structure atop Bijaymandal, I could see a series of domes arranged along the sides of a square. It was hazy around but that could not hide the size of the place. I was both intrigued and amazed. Immediately, I got down from my vantage point, got to the road and started walking in the direction of the building. A few hundred metres south, the mosque stood on the side of a narrow residential street. There was the quintessential blue ASI board with white text, somewhat rusting. A flight of wide steps led into the mosque. An imposing gate, partly blackened by the weather loomed above the steps. A partly ajar gate made of iron bars led inside. Before I had even walked up the steps, I was sure no one came here. It just had that eerie look which buildings unoccupied for years tend to accumulate.
|The entry gate from the West. Photo Courtesy: Rachel Leven|
|From the iron bar gate. Photo Courtesy: Rachel Leven|
|The West and North sides with the 'ditch' in the foreground.|
The first thing I did inside was to walk all around the courtyard and feel its size. Later, when I walked in along the galleries formed by the domes, the arches under each dome seemed to enhance the dimensions and the depth.
|Arches on the South side.|
|The domes on the West and South. Photo Courtesy: Rachel Leven|
|7 domes form half of each side. Photo Courtesy: Rachel Leven|
|Collapsed domes and domes of the unexplained hall.|
|The plain mihrab on the west wall.|
|The east wall from atop the main dome.|
I was so enamoured by the place that when a couple of days later, a few friends wanted to come see this place (after hearing from me), I gladly gave them company. Despite having heard of its size, they were surprised. In the middle of the congested villaged of Begumpur, in the heart of Delhi, where space is at a premium, there is historical real estate lying vacant, unattended and grand. As we walked out of the mosque on my second visit towards Begumpur Village, we were wondering about why Bijaymandal, a few hundred metres away is so littered and shitted on while the mosque is not. While the mosque is not used for prayer, perhaps its erstwhile status discourages people from littering in. Just a score of metres away however, the story is different. Below is what we saw. Present Delhi is as much about trash, filth and smelliness as it is about historical structures and legends. More on this in one of the future posts.
|A man walks past some trash as another cleans.|