THRISSUR: The Cheraman Juma Masjid, the oldest mosque in the country, is all set to welcome visitors as part of the Muziris Heritage Tourism circuit. The renovation work to reclaim its architectural heritage is in the final stages.
The renovated masjid, which will be open for tourists from across the world, will be inaugurated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The project was included in the LDF government’s 100-day programme. Studies have shown that the mosque — located in Methala, near Kodungallur — was built in 629CE by Malik Deenar. But it was destroyed when the Portuguese attacked the port of Kodungallur.
The mosque remains unique for its Kerala style of architecture. In 1984, to organise prayers at the mosque, concrete structures — mainly corridor and hall — were built. Those extensions had completely concealed the old structure. In an effort to bring back the heritage structure, the Muziris Heritage Project took up the task of renovating the Cheraman Juma Masjid.
Governor Arif Mohammed Khan had inaugurated the renovation work in 2019. The project cost around Rs 1.81 crore. “The earlier concrete structures were demolished, and the heritage architecture has been restored using teak wood,” said an official. Clay tiles have been used to restore the roofing in the traditional Kerala style.
As the mosque would lose the existing space for offering prayers, the Mahallu committee decided to construct an underground prayer hall. “Once the old style is restored, the upper portion of the masjid will be used for the tourism project. The underground hall will be used exclusively for prayer,” said Faisal E B, administrator of the Cheraman Juma Masjid. The hall will have space for 5,000 people to pray at a time.