New Delhi: The ageing Fatehpuri mosque in Old Delhi is awaiting a much-needed facelift
that can extend by some 100 years the life of one of the grandest
Islamic monuments in India.
If and when the restoration work begins, it will take up to two
years to restore the original glory of the mosque that occupies a
pride of place in the Chandni Chowk area facing the mammoth Red
It was Mughal emperor Shah Jahan's wife Fatehpuri Begum who
ordered the mosque built in 1650. The nearby Jama Masjid, another
redstone marvel, was the brainchild of the emperor himself.
For 30 years or so, the Fatehpuri mosque has been begging for a
facelift, which is now in the pipeline thanks to intervention by
Communications Minister Kapil Sibal, who represents the area in
the Lok Sabha.
Mufti Mukarram, the Shahi Imam of the mosque, moaned to IANS: "The
condition of the mosque is poor. Floors are leaking, minarets are
falling down, and old stones (need attention)."
According to one historic account, Indian soldiers were posted in
the mosque during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. It is believed that
the British sold a part of the mosque to a Hindu merchant during
the mutiny but the shrine again came into Muslim hands in 1877.
On Sibal's request, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural
Heritage (INTACH) prepared a comprehensive conservation plan and
said that the project could cost Rs.6.5-7 crore.
Gautam Sengupta, director general of the Archaeological Survey of
India (ASI), told IANS that his institution supported plans for
restoration of the mosque.
Said Mukarram: "Such repair is needed to maintain the historical
image of the mosque and to increase its life to a minimum of 100
Ajay Kumar, a senior project manager of INTACH's Delhi chapter,
said: "Conservation is basically related to consolidation of the
structure, and restoration is getting the old historical fabric
based on the historical and archival records back in place."
"The restoration will enhance its grandeur and beauty," he added.
Mukarram, who has served in the mosque since 1971, said during the
first round of repairing, marble was used instead of red stone in
many places, affecting the facade.
The mosque was again repaired partially in 1980.
How much time will the latest round of restoration take? Kumar
said: "It's a living mosque, so it may take longer time than any
other heritage buildings. If all goes well, it may take 18-24
(Abu Zafar can be contacted at email@example.com)