City Monument – Zeenat ul Masaajid, Near Ansari Road
A Jama Masjid miniature.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Seven-arched facade of red sandstone. Three domes in stripes of white and black marble. Two minarets. Zeenat ul Masaajid, ‘the ornament of the mosque’, lies close to the Ring Road.
Made in the likeness of Jama Masjid, it is one of the less grand mosques of Shahjahanabad. The short flight of steps leading up to the courtyard is entered through a dark corridor. The courtyard looks down to the playground of Crescent English Medium School. The ablution pool at the center of the courtyard is dry and partially covered with grass. The sightings of tourists are rare.
Commissioned by Emperor Aurangzeb’s daughter Zeenat un Nissa Begum in 1707, it was one of the first buildings – apart from Red Fort, of course – that a traveller approaching the city from Yamuna would see. Princess Zeenat was buried within the mosque.
Built close to the city wall, which survives only at few places, the mosque is also known as Ghata Masjid. Perhaps it got this name because of its proximity to some ghat that no longer exists. Those steps on the river bank have disappeared with time, along with the river that has shifted its course further east.
The interiors of the mosque are bare except for the outlines of arched patterns impressed on a few columns. The ceiling at the center has a carved circular pattern. There are electric fans.
After bringing down the Mughals in 1857, the British confiscated the mosque, destroyed the tomb of Zeenat Begum and turned her masjid into a bakery. For some years the grounds were used as a stable for tongas.
Today, cycle rickshaws are parked against the mosque’s southern wall. And pigeons sit on its domes. Despite the various sounds coming from the school and the Ring Road, the mosque’s courtyard remains peaceful.
Where Near Ansari Road, Close to Crescent School Nearest Metro Station Chawri Bazaar/Chandni Chowk Time Morning to Evening
Looks like Jama