Kashmir Diary – Jamia Masjid, Srinagar
The unhappy land.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Mossy brick paths, grey pigeons, yellow poppies and smooth pillars made from the wood of Deodar.
The Delhi Walla is at Jamia Masjid, the grand Friday mosque in Nowhatta, a neighbourhood in the heart of Old Srinagar.
Built in 1400 and destroyed thrice by fire, the mosque has four wooden towers at four corners. The principal entrance looks to a bazaar that seems to have seceded from India, at least emotionally. One chai shop is decorated with a framed portrait of Ayub Khan, a former Pakistani president. One wall is depicted with this crudely-drawn calligraphy:
The pillared hall in the mosque shies away from making any political statement. It is dark and quiet. Burqa-clad women ask for alms, while devotees perform namaz or read the Quran.
The center of the mosque is dedicated to a garden. Women sit under chinar trees, little boys jump across brightly-colored flower-beds, veiled college girls talk in low voices and crows make regular dips in the cool water of the wazoo pool.
There is a clear view of the faraway hill-top fort of Hari Parbat. Taken over by the Indian Army, it is barred to Kashmiris.
But sitting in the Jamia Masjid garden, it is easy to forget that we are in an occupied territory.
1. Closer to Allah
2. What’s the gossip?
3. Bunking classes?
4. As the crows fly
5. In her own company
6. Sea of poppies
7. What’s your wish?
8. Reading for salvation
9. Chinar days
10. Occupied Hari Parbat
11. House of Allah
12. The bazaar view
nice pics! To some extent, Kashmiri architecture was influenced by Buddhist architecture. For a comparison, see pictures of Himachali temples. A discerning observer would notice scores of similarities.
Although I love Indo-Islamic/Indo-Persian architecture, I find it a bit tedious at times. The complete lack of human and animal figures makes it quite monotonous and even arid at times.European architecture (especially Medieval European) assimilated the BEST features of Greek and Roman styles. The fact that they were Christians did not pose an impediment to their artistic pursuits- however ‘heathen’ such themes may have been in their character.
Aldous Huxley had the following to say after his trip to Kashmir
” The architecture of the pleasure houses which they contain is petty and almost rustic. The decorative details, such of them, at any rate, as remain-for the ornamentation was mostly of a rather gimcrack and temporary character-are without much originality. How greatly the Mogul architects were handicapped by the profession of a religion which forbade the introduction of the human form into their decorative schemes is manifested especially in their fountains. A fountain in one of these gardens is just a nozzle sticking out of the ground, the end of a hose-pipe turned vertically upwards. Miserable object, and unworthy of the name of fountain! I shut my eyes and think of those Bolognese mermaids with their spouting breasts; those boys and tortoises at Rome, all black and shining with wetness; those naiads and river-gods and gesticulating allegories among the rainbows and the falling crystals of the Piazza Navons; those Tritons at the Villa Lanti with their prancing sea-horses-all the fantastic world of tutelary deities that stand guard over Italian springs. The Moguls were good Mohammedans and content with unadorned nozzles. “
nice. sloped terraces shouldn’t have surprised me..it’s in hills after all!!
I think I see now, why you ended the last Delhi Proustians meeting without announcing the next venue…
Road trip! Yay!
@””MAS: But sitting in the Jamia Masjid garden, it is easy to forget that we are in an occupied territory.””
???? occupied territory? by whom. Indians occupying India… what about Kashmiri Pandits (original inhabitants of Kashmir who were there centuries before Muslims) and Hinduism expelled from Kashmir valley.
Don’t forget Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Shia’s of valley dont support independence or merger with Pakistan. This leaves only a section of Sunni’s of valley demanding a solution away from India. And valley is only 1/3 of J&K state, remaining 2/3 is overwhelming pro-India. Dont pay heed to some Pakistan-sponsored or Saudi-sponsored Whabi Sunni’s noises about separation. A small minority (a section noisy Wahabi Sunni’s of valley) cant hold the wast majority of J&K’s population.
If it is really so, and majority of people in JK are with India, then why is India shying away from holding a referendum, a pelbicite? Why people of JK are denied a chance of self determination, if Indians are so confident that majority of the inhabitants of Kashmir are wiling to be Indians by choice. The fact is that India is holding Kashmir at gun point, by the help of intrigues and some collaborators. If she withdraws her 10 lakh soldiers from Kashmir,it can not hold it for one day.
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