City Monument – Unnamed Mosque, Agrasen ki Baoli
The beauty of an ignored ruin.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
So melancholic and beautiful, and nobody bothers about it.
The unnamed and unused mosque is tucked in a corner of the Agrasen ki Baoli, one of Delhi’s most celebrated destinations for lovers and tourists. The 14th century stepwell has appeared in many guidebooks and Hindi films. Most of the time, you’ll find it crowded with revelers, their backs royally turned towards the mosque. This general disdain gives the discerning person the illusion of ownership upon the mosque’s poignant beauty.
The time-worn building stands on clusters of columns gracefully sculpted with leaf-like designs. Little niches are built discretely in the wall. A massive Neem tree leans over the mosque, its branches settling over the stone edifice like a grieving person spreading her arms upon a loved one’s grave.
The mosque’s origins are unclear. The stone panel outside the complex that talks in great details about the baoli dismisses this other structure in a small paragraph. But the description does beautifully mention its “whale back roof”, whatever that means. In fact, part of the roof is missing. Perhaps it caved away at some point in time. The empty portion heightens the gloom of the mosque’s shattered visage, accentuating its decay and lonesomeness.
Come in the sunny afternoon when the adjacent iron grill makes beautiful shadows on the mosque’s floor.
A melancholic edifice