23 September 2015

Madhi Masjid, Mehrauli, Delhi


“Delhi: delirious city, city of the tense present, future imperfect. Yes, it’s easy to criticize. It is sprawling, aggressive, authoritarian, water-starved, paranoid, and has had so many facelifts that you can get lost on your own street.. It’s frequently tasteless, materialistic, immensely inegalitarian, environmentally destructive, and full of faintly lecherous men. Its weather is diabolical, it can be ludicrously expensive, and often it smells. Oh, and its monkeys occasionally carry out savage and unprovoked attacks, just to liven things up.”
– Elizabeth Chatterjee, “Delhi: Mostly Harmless” (2013)

Out of sight, out of mind, so the saying goes. Located in the very shadow of the immensely renowned World Heritage Site of Qutb complex (refer Pixelated Memories - Qutb Complex) and then too immediately opposite the perennially crowded Qutb Minar metro station adjacent the arterial, heavily traffic-clogged Mehrauli-Gurgaon highway, one of Delhi’s most ornately ornamented and enigmatic medieval edifices is miserably relegated to a forgotten existence in the forlorn realm of dejectedly stunted wilderness, governmental hypocrisy and cultural indifference.


Madhi Masjid - Delhi's forgotten monument


Gracefully seated upon its immensely high plinth in far-flung urban village of Mehrauli and chronologically dated to the architecturally outstanding short-lived reign of the Lodi Dynasty (ruled AD 1451-1526), little is known about the commissioning and construction of the beautiful Madhi Masjid which seamlessly and singularly fuses the characteristics of both a wall mosque (“qibla”) and a covered mosque (“mihrab”) through the employment of a short span of beautifully decorated wall mosque flanked symmetrically on either side by two identical stretches of low rectangular buildings functioning in the capacity of miniature covered mosques. The entire bewitching facade is profusely adorned with tiny ornamental alcoves, a strip of vivid blue glazed tiles that till date retain their spellbinding brilliance, small serrated star-shaped depressions, slender elegant minarets, exquisite plasterwork medallions inscribed with Quranic calligraphy and geometric patterns, finely-described “kangura” patterns (battlement-like leaf motif ornamentation) and a line of slightly slanting eaves (“chajja”) supported upon seemingly heavy stone brackets. Each rectangular chamber is pierced by three arched entrances and their roofs, though externally perfectly flat, are marked corresponding each squat entrance by three concave domes along their interiors which are supported on rudimentarily simplistic honeycomb brackets. Towards the rear, the corners are fortified with immensely thick conical towers.


Simplicity!


The entire structure and the enormous open-to-sky congregation space adjoining it (peppered by two immense rectangular protrusions, possibly grave markers) stand on a massive platform accessible via an impressive perfectly-proportioned cubical gateway adorned with an identical smattering of detailed embellishments – traces of vivid blue glazed tile patterns, exquisite plasterwork medallions inscribed with calligraphy, finely-described “kangura” patterns and overhanging windows (“jharokha”) surmounted by melon-like fluted domes. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has done a remarkably commendable job in conserving the monument, restoring its numerous ornamental features and maintaining the tiny grass-covered space abutting its gateway, though sadly, in the absence of any visitors, the entire plot wears an appearance of heartbreaking desolation and deafening seclusion interrupted only by the occasional sojourns of the devout locals who sprinkle the courtyard with large lumps of sugar and jaggery for the resident swarms of insects and terrifyingly large hornets to consume – possible owing to some belief originating from superstitions regarding the mosque’s benevolence in return for offerings for its thousands of tiny inhabitants.


Sophistication!


Sadly though, nobody ever leaves fruits and sweets for the menacing local monkey who has in vengeful reciprocation begun to resort to ferociously mauling the visitors. Thankfully, the ASI guard with his (seemingly useless!) bamboo stick does look over the occasional visitor enthusiastic about climbing the mosque’s roof and observing the panorama of the vast green forest extending all around this tiny oasis of permanent rubble, forgotten religious consecration and new found superstitions.


Eeeks!


Open: All days, sunrise to sunset
Location: In the narrow lane immediately opposite Qutb Minar metro station across Anuvrat Marg (Mehrauli-Gurgaon highway) (Coordinates: 28°30'53.8"N 77°11'06.7"E)
Nearest Metro station: Qutb Minar
Nearest bus stop: Qutb Minar metro station
How to reach: The mosque is located immediately across Qutb Minar metro station. One can also walk from Lado Serai crossing if coming by bus from Badarpur side.
Entrance fees: Nil
Photography/Video charges: Nil
Time required for sightseeing: 30 min
Relevant Links -
Other monuments/landmarks located in the immediate vicinity -
  1. Pixelated Memories - Ahinsa Sthal
  2. Pixelated Memories - Azim Khan's Tomb
  3. Pixelated Memories - Balban's Tomb
  4. Pixelated Memories - Chaumukh Darwaza
  5. Pixelated Memories - Dargah Dhaula Peer
  6. Pixelated Memories - Jamali Kamali Complex
  7. Pixelated Memories - Khan Shahid's Tomb
  8. Pixelated Memories - Mehrauli Archaeological Park
  9. Pixelated Memories - Metcalfe's Chattri
  10. Pixelated Memories - Qila Rai Pithora
  11. Pixelated Memories - Qutb Complex
  12. Pixelated Memories - Settlement ruins

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