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