Sunday, 16 October 2011

Fatehpuri Masjid

Fatehpuri is one of Old Delhi’s many hidden gems. In 1650, Shahjehan decided to let his wife, Fatehpuri Begum (known so because she was from Fatehpur) build a mosque at the far end of Chandni Chowk, a straight shot down Red Fort’s once great canal. Standing at the gate of Fatehpuri Masjid you could see the Red Fort clearly. Today, that view is obscured by Delhi’s ever present haze, haphazard construction, and tangles of electric wires.
Fatehpuri Masjid at sunset
The mosque, a poorer cousin of the grand Jama Masjid is still in operation and actually quite big itself. As you enter from the main gate, on your left you can see recently constructed apartments encroaching onto what used to be the madrasa on the first floor. A yellow wall here, a few red bricks there, some taking up all the space and some just teetering into the mosque. Its as if a web of the surroundings is starting to engulf the mosque, very slowly. Even if new construction takes the originality of the building away, it makes the old mosque a true part of the bustling surroundings. The courtyard has a homey feel. People stroll through the courtyard with nonchalance, as if they were walking in the courtyard of their own homes. Maybe that is what they are actually doing.
The surroundings becoming one.

I visited three times, spending quite a bit of time on each trip. The hospitality of the people in the courtyard struck me every time. Someone offered to take me around, someone else volunteered information about the mosque, and yet another person inquired if I was having a good time and liked the place. Whatever the mosque lacks in size and grandeur compared to Jama Masjid, it more than makes up for in its welcoming atmosphere and hospitality.
Walking to pray

1 comment:

  1. lovely post! I went there recently again, and if you walk back towards the khari baoli/spice market area, and enter a big gate on the left called the Gadodia market, and then go up 4 flights of steps to the top, you end up at the roof of a spice godown, looking directly down at the Fatehpuri masjid. The Red Fort and Jama Masjid can be seen faintly due to the Delhi haze you mentioned... the view of Old Delhi is simply majestic!