Delhi 101: #19 Fatehpuri Masjid – An Oasis of Silence

The Fatehpuri Masjid (Mosque) stands at the western end of Chandni Chowk, and is the most important mosque of old Delhi after the Jama Masjid. It is also very different from every other mosque.

Delhi 101: Cover image of book by Ajay JainThis post has been taken from Delhi 101, a book written by Ajay Jain. It is about 101 surprising ways to discover Delhi, one of the most amazing cities in the world for travelers. To know more about the book and to order one, click here.

Built in 1650 by Fatehpuri Begum, one of Emperor Shahjahan’s wives, it is simple and different in design – in stark contrast to opulence associated with buildings commissioned by royalty. There is no central dome – an open courtyard enclosed by walls, rooms, towers and small domes make up the mosque. It may not impress many, but then people miss the essence of the place.

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Perhaps this is the way Allah wanted it. An oasis of peace, where prayers are free to flow to the skies above. Grand structures means maintenance, a jostle for political and religious power, money for the upkeep, rituals to keep the charades going – why can’t one be left alone to practice their faith as they deem fit? And to study! You can often spot young boys being given lessons by their teachers sitting across low stools. It is a madrasa or Muslim school of sorts.

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This is just the place you want to take a break at while exploring the city.

The sanctity of the mosque was disturbed during the Great Revolt of 1857. The British sold it to Rai Lala Chunna Mal, a Hindu businessman, for about Rs. 30,000 (some versions put the figure lower). Better sense prevailed eventually, and it was restored to its original status after 20 years – but not before Chunna Mal got four villages in exchange valued at three times his original investment.

Metro: Chandni Chowk

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