Delhi Monuments : The Khair-ul-Manazil Mosque


In 1450 the Mughals began their reign starting with Babur, the Mughal empire flourished and reached its pinnacle during Akbar’s reign. He was an ideal king and is considered one of the best rulers among all the Mughals.

Emperor Akbar is usually associated with Fatehpur Sikri, the capital is founded in Agra but I wanted to explore the bits of his story that lives through the ruins in Delhi. I went to the two places in Mehrauli, the tombs of Muhammad Quli Khan and Adam Khan, sons of Maham Anga and Akbar’s foster brothers. I think her remains too are buried along with Adam Khan here but I am not sure. Maham Anga was Akbar’s chief wet curse and held an important place as an adviser to the teenage Emperor. Shrewd and ambitious she was in-charge of the empire and acted as the de-facto regent of the Mughal Empire from 1560 to 1562. The worse kind of petticoat government that ever was.

Khair ul Minazil was commissioned by her during Akbar’s reign and the complex has a mosque and a madarsa (Islamic seminary). The name means ‘ the most auspicious of houses’.  This is an important structure because there aren’t many instances of  surviving  architecture which have the patronage of a woman.  It was perhaps the first Mughal Mosque in Delhi.

This serene mosque is located on Mathura Road, opposite the Old Fort  or Purana Qila. Driving down the busy road in the front of the mosque I had always wanted to stop by and spend some time there. This time I especially made a plan to do so. One can see hundreds of pigeons flying around the structure and for once I didn’t despise the sight.

It all blended in so well. Perhaps in olden times this complex was part of the Old Fort complex. Not many people actually venture into this beautiful structure and that is a pity for one can sense the grandeur of the place by just standing inside the complex. History tells that an assassination attempt was made on Akbar’s life from the first floor of this mosque in 1564.

The double storied gateway of the mosque is made of quartzite and red stone but the mosque and the madarsa are made of rubble. If you look from inside the magnificent gate has medallions and intricate stucco patterns etched on it.

On both the sides of the mosque stands the two storied madarsa in dilapidated state. The larger rooms are on the ground floor and a narrow passage leads to the smaller ones on the first floor. Most of the walls are crumbling and no doors or windows are left if there were any.

The vast rectangular courtyard has a waju hauz which is not working hence not in use. The old well, on the other hand, is working and people draw the water for waju (ablution).

One can see water pitchers near the hauz that are filled everyday for the residing pigeons.

 

The mosque is better preserved than the madarsa. Earlier there were five arched bays leading to the mosque but now only three are visible. There is a dome at the central bay of the prayer hall while the other bays have been roofed with vaults. The mehrabs, curves and Qur’an scripts are on the verge of decay due to the neglect of the structure.

 

The Persian inscription  set above the central entrance that tells us that this was built by Maham Anga with the assistance of shihabuddin Ahmed Khan. We also see two more names apart from Akbar that of Niyaz Baqsh who constructed Khairul Manazil and Darvesh Hussain who supervised the construction. The name ‘Khair-ul-Manazil’, when written in Persian, yields the number 969 Hijri (AD 1561-62), the year of its construction, and thus is a Chronogram. A very interesting and unique feature of this structure.

The inside floor of the mosque is still in a fairly good condition because people offer Namaz but the outer floor is in very bad state.

One can see copies of Quran sharif kept in one of the brackets in the wall.

The Mecca facing western mehrab still has some remnants of the exquisitely vibrant blue, red, violet green and yellow enamel tile work, a testimonial to its glorious past.

Most of the awe inspiring artwork is now lost to the years of neglect and the gorgeous facade bears a blackened appearance and yet it stands tall as a witness to the beauty and grace this place has managed to keep even now leaving behind the rectangular protruding projections. One can imagine how grand this mosque would have looked in its prime days. Maham Anga was resourceful, rich and very confident woman and left no stone upturned to make this a work of art. No tow tiles of the facade are of the same design. The geometrical and floral patterns are different in each tile. There are some verses from the Holy Quran inscribed on the walls.

On the outer wall of the mosque one can see the brackets that once supported the chajjas or the wide eaves that were meant to keep the sun away.

It is hard to believe that the mosque is erected without any foundation.

The iron gate and the boundaries restrict the movements if you wish to photograph the complex from various angles.

0802

I wanted to take some pictures from the expansive lawns of Sher Shah Gate or Lal Darwaza complex but it is under restoration and public is not allowed at the moment.

I hope more people visit this stunningly beautiful mosque but I also feel that the lack of interest in this has also preserved it from the onslaught of those ‘tourists’ who harm the monuments by engraving their names or drawing cupid hearts etc on the walls.

I also hope Archaeological Survey Of India considers some restoration work here before we completely lose whatever artwork is remaining now. Do visit this place whenever you are on Old Fort side.

 

 

Advertisements

New Poem – Home


This poem was first published in Peacock Journal   edited by W.F. Lantry and his team. Do browse the journal for some excellent work.

Home

the shadow of the Oak trees
lies heavy on the grass below
no life stirs in the green expanse
that stretches until it meets the sky
with its cargo of clouds

along the distant ridge of hills
dust rises from a winding road
that looks lazily down upon
the slowly moving river
that crosses the land

along that road is our house
the house we loved and shared
until the day we drifted apart
now that lonely house waits
hoping again to become a home

Poetry News


Two of my Poems were published in the prestigious Tuck Magazine in August. Tuck is a political lit, music and arts  journal with a difference run by Michael and Valda Organ.

I don’t know how I forgot to share this news on my blog. I do remember posting the original link to my poems on all social channels. I am really enjoying these small memories from my travel in the Himalayas. Something I miss so much. A lot has been put on hold due to lack of funds, a lot is at stake too due to a sudden financial jolt but I have a belief that the hand that taketh also giveth. 🙂

Here is an excerpt from the poem the poem ‘Waiting

“a missed turn can lead you to the most unexpected places

and here I was beneath a canopy of dripping leaves,

in the backyard of nowhere, watching a dream unfold…..”

Read the TWO POEMS by clicking here. Also read the other splendid work on the website.

Thank you editors for giving me this wonderful platform.

Meanwhile good things continue to happen. Rebecca Behar, a poet friend from France read one of the poems, written impromptu by me and my mentor friend James Goddard, at a poetry event. Do listen to it by clicking the link below.

VOWELS

Thank you Dear Rebecca for giving your voice to our poem..

 

 

Travel Poem – Memory – 1


This poem is from a set of two travel memory poems first published in Cafe Dissensus Everyday.

 

 

 A window opens through time
scented by Deodars and Pines,
as I lie on the wooden balcony of our cottage
my eyes linger on the shadow stencils
of the Dhauladhars rising beyond the valley,
the leaves murmur as the breeze tugs at them,
the sun, forgetting to set,
filters through the swaying branches
and meanders along forgotten paths,
a twist of smoke rises to meet the sky,
I breathe deeply, eyes closed,
inhale the aromas that we once shared,
the crackling warmth of wood stove,
the tang of our salt-laced bodies
with their steam rising into the stillness
like the echo of dreams haunting this house,
outside my window time advances slowly

New Poems


September is a bitter-sweet month. It is the birth month of my younger son who completes twenty-one years on this 25th and that makes it very special but on the other hand it has a lot of heartbreak attached to it. Somehow, with each passing year a lot of good things have begun to happen in September.  I will focus on the good especially on the writing front. We lose some we win some. Onward we go.

I have been experimenting with writing poems based on travel memories and readers have encouraged and appreciated my work.

TEKSTO   is  people’s magazine, the elitism of journals is something they are working against. They need work from all you writers out there especially the young upcoming ones. Do check out the magazine’s other content as you read my Two Poems  here. These are memory poems not travel related but close to my heart.

 

Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine and has fabulous content. I have been associated with the magazine since some time and absolutely love sending my work here. Do read some very fine articles, fiction and poetry among other things once you read my travel memory poems which recently got published. Two Memories 

 

Recently I attended book launch organised by AuthorsPress which is the brainchild of Mr. Sudarshan Kecherry. I was delighted to see that they encourage Hindi Literature along with English and the launch had some fine poetry books to offer in both languages. I bought some and got them autographed too. It was a joy to listen to Dr. Ampat koshy, Dr. Santosh Bakaya, Geetika Kohli and others. The poetry reading was enjoyable. I met some old friends, made some new ones.

I also received very positive feedback from two very good authors on my debut poetry book Collection of chaos. I will share it soon.

Here is a pic from the launch. You can check out their FB page and list of publications.

 

I am working on a few new writing projects and hopefully share some news soon. Till them keep the love going and do leave your views about my writing.

Thank you to all my readers for being an important part of my creative journey.