Express News Service
NEW DELHI: Heavy rain and strong winds in the national capital on Friday evening damaged one of the iconic minarets of the 17th-century mosque — Jama Masjid — located in the heart of Shahjahanabad.
According to the mosque staff, a large red sandstone slab — approximately 2-metre long, 12-18 inches wide, and 3 inches thick — of the southern tower fell off in the evening as a downpour started. The broken piece of the stone pierced the floor but injured no one, said a staff member.
The minaret in question is a popular attraction for visitors as they are allowed to climb to its top gallery to view the panoramic surroundings of the Walled city area and Red Fort.
Following the incident, the Shahi Imam of the Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, said that he would write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealing for the repair of the structure as several stones are damaged.
“As a special case, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has been carrying out repairs at the mosque since 1956. The work to protect its three domes, which had developed cracks, was completed a few months ago. The structure needs an extensive mend job. I am writing to the PM again requesting him to initiate the inspection of all eroded stones and the two minarets to assess actual damage and facilitate its conservation,” said Bukhari.
The mosque originally built by Mughal emperor Shahjahan on a hillock is touted to be the largest in India. Its construction started in 1648 after the completion of his dream capital — Shahjahanabad.
It took six years and cost Rs 10 lakh at the time.
Nearly 5,000 tourists and 1,000 worshippers visit the mosque every day.
The Mughal period building is not an ASI-protected site and the responsibility of its management and the responsibility of maintenance lies with the Delhi Waqf Board (DWB). The Board has not commented on the issue.
Last year, around the same time in July, another ancient mosque in the vicinity of Jama Masjid suffered major damage during rain.
The central dome of the almost 200-year-old mosque — Mubarak Begum — near Chawri Bazaar metro station, which is merely a kilometre from Jama Masjid, collapsed.
The World Monuments Fund (WMF) has agreed to carry out its restoration but the work couldn’t begin due to the Covid-pandemic-induced lockdown.