City Monument – Moth Ki Masjid, Near Uday Park
Our neighbourhood ruin.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
As a mosque, it is dead. Prayers are not offered here. As a monument, Moth ki Masjid is full of life.
The stone mosque takes its name from moth (beans), which is said to have produced a harvest big enough to finance its construction. Commissioned by Miyan Bhoiya, a minister in the court of Sikandar Lodi (1488-1517), the masjid has domes, turrets, and staircases. The gateway is carved with Quranic inscriptions and ornamental outlines. The domed chattris still possess a couple of original blue tiles. The courtyard is shaded with leafy trees.
The masjid shares architectural characteristics with prominent historical mosques in Delhi such as Quila-e-Kohna in Purana Quila and Jamali-Kamali in Mehrauli. However, its most defining feature is firmly fixed to the present–the ruin has absorbed the life of its neighbourhood, a village called… well, Masjid Moth.
Boys play cricket in the mosque’s courtyard. Girls walk on the terrace. Arched openings look to parks and power cables. The surrounding houses appear to be a composition of water tanks and dish antennas. Hindi film songs stream out of their grilled windows. You might spot an elderly man staring at you from one door, and a woman from another. Cars and carts are parked on one side of the masjid. Parts of the mosque are reflected into the glass panels of an adjacent building.
As the evening sky darkens, the young cricketers leave the courtyard, and the mosque dies. The morning after, it returns to life.
A lively monument