The Moti Masjids of Delhi
When we say Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque), the first image that comes to our mind is the small box-shaped mosque inside the Red Fort, which we never get to see from inside. But fact is that the last Mughal Emperors built another Moti Masjid in Mehrauli. These mosques were built as the private chapel of the emperor and his family. You will find Moti Masjids in almost all Mughal Palaces This article is about these two beautiful marble pieces of history from Delhi.
Moti Masjid of Qila-i-Mubarak (Red Fort)
The Moti Masjid of Red Fort was built by Aurangzeb. He did not miss his prayers and the Jama Masjid (merely 600 mts. from Badshahi Gate of Red Fort) was probably too far for him. So he commissioned his own private mosque and decorated it with nice white marble. Originally this mosque had golden domes but they were severely damaged during the mutiny of 1857. This mosque was built at a cost of 160,000 in 1659 AD. It is situated to the west of Hammam. The female of harem were also allowed to attend prayers in it. The main entrance on eastern side has a small door with decorated copper plates nailed to it. There was originally a door in the northern wall for women, but during the repairs after 1857, it was closed. Archaeologists at that time were not able to restore the original domes with their Copper plates, but did good work restoring the Pietra Dura (embossed artwork on walls). It also has a small ablution pond (wuzu-khana) in the centre of courtyard.
Moti Masjid of Zafar Mahal, Mehrauli
The Moti Masjid of Zafar Mahal in Mehrauli is not as beautiful or as big as the mosque of Red Fort. But it serves the same purpose of offering a place to offer prayers to the royal family. It has similar three dome structure and have marble patterns on Mussallas(Praying Mat) on floor. There is hardly any embossed artwork (Except for flowers near the keystone of arch and some floral patterns near ground). The only beautiful thing about this mosque is that it is to the immediate west of the Dargah of Hazrat Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki (ra). A small wall separates the courtyard of Mosque and the Dargah. This mosque was built around 1707 by one of the last Mughal Emperors. Only one minaret of this mosque survives in shattered state, and which is now supported by external scaffoldings to avoid its collapse.
The dome with stairs in this picture is of the Dargah Sharif and the triple marble domes are of the Moti Masjid. This pic shows the distance between the Mosque and the Dargah. On the lower right corner of picture, we can see the sardgah, the enclosure containing graves of Emperor Akbar Shah II and the empty slot, where Bahadur Shah Zafar wanted to be buried. One door of the mosque opens inside the Dargah complex, and is usually kept locked. This palace (Zafar Mahal) was built adjoining Dargah of Hazrat Kaki, when Akbar Shah II started the famous Sair-e-Gulfarosha’N (Phoolwalo’N ki sair) festival of Delhi. Royal family along with other nobles from Red Fort used to stay in this palace during the 7 days of festivities.
Today, these mosques lie ignored and silent.