Begumpuri Masjid Jahanpanah, so lovingly planned and so
carelessly given up by Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq (1325-1351), is survived
by painfully little today. Remaining buildings speak of grandiose and
much planning; the idea was to encompass all the Delhis before it in
one all-embracing fortress. However like most ideas of
Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq (see history) it defied all practical
steps taken to make it a reality and Jahanpanah was left as it was
when about halfway through.
¤ The Colossal Fort Walls
Whatever left of it has been swallowed up by grasping tentacles of
the ever-expanding south Delhi. The walls of Jahanpanah are
surprisingly huge; some even have rooms built into them to store
provisions and war equipment. You can spot some sections of the wall
at Satpula, near Khirkee Village.
¤ Begumpuri Masjid
The Begumpuri Masjid, which occupied the place of pride in the
sultan's capital being bang in its centre, is so formal looking that
you almost expect it to have a stiff upper lip. It was obviously built
for majesty, what with its towering stature and striking profile. It
was obviously meant to be, and was, much more than just a mosque. It
was a social and communal hub it housed a madrasa and a
treasury. People met here for business and other transactions and the
city's grain markets were often held just outside the mosque's
The masjid itself is built in the typically Spartan Tughlaq style. It
frowns down on everyone from an elevated platform, which makes for an
immense courtyard surrounded by arcaded cloisters. Its cool and breezy
interiors were probably as quiet and serene then as they are now. One
can imagine pious devotees spending time here in silent meditation,
reflecting on Allah and His decrees.
¤ Attractive Canopy
As one climbs up to the masjid, its massive pointed dome suddenly
pops out of the towering doorways that it had been hiding behind.
There were originally forty-fur smaller domes too, however some of
these have either fallen or are crumbling. These used to be atop the
riwaq (cloister), strewn across the courtyard above the
An interesting façade of twenty four arched openings greets
the visitor to this mosque. On either side of the mosque you will see
tapering minarets which are characteristic Tughlaq material.
Architecture freaks don't miss the core of the courtyard, which is
akin to the Jaunpur Mosques and the only example of its kind in Delhi.
One wonders why this mosque was ever abandoned, considering that
India is teeming with medieval mosques that still in worship. There
are steps which can take you right to the top of mosque; you can get
an excellent view of the Bijai Mandal next door.
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