HYDERABAD: Illegal construction work taking place along the boundary of the five-century old Jama Masjid in Golconda — the oldest mosque in the city — has damaged a portion of its original structure. The mosque established in 1518 by Sultan Quli Qutb Shah and located in front of the Golconda Fort’s entrance is now enveloped by eateries and shops.
The construction work encroaches on the mosque’s land, including the small bylane just beyond Bala Hisar Gate that leads to the ancient structure. A large portion of the outer fringe of the mosque had been levelled and foundation pillars erected, when Express visited the spot on Wednesday. Those in-charge of construction work objected to photos being taken. S Arif, who introduced himself as a traffic policeman and one of the members of the mosque’s committee, urged that the photos taken by Express be deleted and claimed to have taken up `30-lakh “conservation work” inside the mosque.
The mosque comes under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) under the listing Golconda Fort and Ruins. “Though according to the second notification of the Ancient Monuments Act, the ruins include Jama Masjid and several ashoorkhanas in the vicinity, they were never handed over to us. Locals are averse to the idea and don’t allow ASI to work there,” an ASI official said.
According to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, no structure can be constructed within a 100-metre radius of ASI sites. In fact, as per law, any permanent structure in the demarcated area should be razed.
When apprised of the situation, Hyderabad ASI superintending archeologist Milan Kumar Chauley directed officials to file a report regarding the matter.
“We will issue a notice to officials concerned urging the construction work to be stopped at the earliest,” he said.
1927 book documenting historical sites says Jama Masjid needs protection
The mosque constructed during the Bahmani Sultanate era has a large hall divided into four aisles and five arches. Landmarks of The Deccan by Syed Ali Asgar Bilgrami, written in 1927, states, “In this mosque 25 years after its erection, Sultan Quli, the first king of Golconda, while he was in the act of prostration, was assassinated by Mir Mahmud Hamadani, Qiladar of Golconda at the instigation of the heir apparent Yar Quli Jamshid.” Bilgrami, who was the Director of Archaeology in the Nizam’s government said the monument should be protected.