A bubble of serenity.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Its name means ‘The good destination’ in Arabic. The tranquil Khair ul Manzil masjid was built in 1561 by Maham Anga, the wet nurse and foster mother of Mughal emperor Akbar.
The gateway of the mosque is of red sandstone, and the rest of the structure is of rubble.
The center of the courtyard is ornamented with a wazoo pool for ablution. There is also a stone well. Two water pitchers are kept beside the pool for thirsty pigeons. The birds usually keep to the mosque’s dome. They have made their home in the double-storeyed cells, which line both sides of the courtyard.
Five arched openings lead to the prayer hall. The Persian inscription on the central arch applauds Maham Anga as the ‘protector of chastity’. A cap stand is placed immediately inside. Copies of the Quran lie in the arched niches, but one had empty bottles of Coca Cola and Thums Up.
Bits and pieces of blue, green and yellow tiles cling to the Mecca-facing mihrab. In some places, you see the impressions left by tiles that fell off years ago. (Those discolored spaces look like dead people’s memories.)
During the mandatory prayer hours, Muslims from the vicinity congregate to perform the namaz. In the winter, some pray in the courtyard, under the warm sun. Among the faithful, you may occasionally come across lawyers from the adjacent Delhi High Court. They could be identified by their white shirt and black trousers.
Outside, on Mathura Road, the traffic moves sluggishly, oblivious of the stillness here.
Where Opposite Delhi Zoo, Mathura Road Time Sunrise to Sunset Nearest Metro Station Pragiti Maidan
A good destination