City Monument – Masjid Rukn ud Daula, Chawri Bazaar
A dream in the market.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Everything beautiful in this secretive city seems to be concealed ‘up a flight of steep dark stairs’.
This Mughal-era mosque, too, is such a revelation. Lost in the clutter of Old Delhi’s Chawri Bazaar, it lies atop small shops selling aluminum and copper rods.
Masjid Rukn ud Daula’s outer walls are a thing of beauty. They are spectacularly covered with stone carvings of flowers and leaves that you can gaze upon for hours. The dimly-lit prayer hall, lined with a series of green doors, remains immersed in quietness. The priest’s pulpit is of white marble. The Mecca-facing wall is adorned with floral patterns. This is a perfect escape from the city—an ideal place to surrender to a demanding novel. The mosque has a tattered copy of Quran—it looks like an object from beyond the moon.
Named after a Mughal-era noble of faraway Hyderabad, the mosque belongs to 18th century Delhi, though parts of it consist of modern-day structures. These late intrusions do not dishearten the eyes. The brick wall on the terrace, for instance, is like a dream. Its blue is of a breathtakingly beautiful shade, and the wall’s opacity is poetically interrupted by a small window, which looks like an abandoned boat at sea (see photo 9 below).
The other end of the terrace faces the street. The stone railing is broken in places.
Masjid Rukn ud Daula’s elderly caretaker makes his living as a rafu master, a tailor of torn clothes.
The beauty of the old times
It’s gorgeous carvings are a sight for sore eyes. Whenever I go down the tortuous path from Chawri Bazar Metro station to Urdu Bazaar, I stop for a few moments before Ruknuddaula’s Masjid to catch my breath and gaze upon this ‘mashriqee tamaddun kaa aakhri namoonah’. It looms above the chaos, filth and grime of the Bazaar. Thankfully the facade has been spared the anti-aesthetic ministrations ( in the form of liberally applied coats of green and white paint) of religious-minded preservationists.
*Its gorgeous carvings
This is gorgeous. Great post.
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