A Jewel in the Central Delhi

Mosque on Raj Path

Opposite India gate, in its lush verdant lawns of the main central avenue Raj Path, is an 18th-century mosque Shahi Masjid Zabta Ganj, giving firepower to the popular cliche that in India, the old and the new cohabit.

The mosque runs a madrasa as well. Madrasas are schools of Islamic learning. Here, you shall spot young students wearing skull caps immersed in their educational pursuits.

The mosque has trees bearing mulberry, grapes and neem.

That the British built their new imperial city around this mosque speaks volumes about their accommodating nature towards all religions.

Nawab Zabita Khan built the mosque. The Nawab’s raison d’être was to seduce the ladies of Mughal court, a Casanova.

One of his conquests was the sister of the then Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II, who was offended and signed a deal with the Marathas to kill the Nawab.

The Nawab turned the tables on the Emperor by doing a counter treaty deal with the Marathas. This pact enabled him to defeat the Emperor’s army and reclaim his land.

As a punishment, the Nawab’s son Ghulam Qadir gouged out the Emperor’s eyes.

The British took special care to plan and build the new city by integrating the location of historical buildings. Archaeologist Maulvi Zafar Hasan from the Archaeological Survey of India had instructions to prepare a list of historical buildings in this area for incorporation in the new city design. Even though the mosque was an oddity in the new symmetrical design, it made it to the list. Even today, the list is referred to by the ASI.

Post-partition trauma saw locks on the doors of the mosque, which opened in 1962 at the intervention of the then President of India, Zakir Hussain.

This mosque is about 15-20 minutes drive from our bed and breakfast.

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