Kalan Masjid, Turkman Gate , Delhi


Image from British Library
Robert & Harriet Tytler: Photo 53/(26) no. 5326 http://t.co/bHT1WOjczX

According to legend one of Sultan Firoz Shah’s courtiers was a devotee of Shah Turkman Bayabani. This Sufi Saint had his khanqah and then tomb in the wilderness near the River Yamuna which flowed past modern Turkman Gate where the saint is buried. The bayabani sect lives outside city precincts. Of course today it is the heart of the old city!
Anyway to cut a long story short he requested Firoz Shah to extend the boundaries of the new city of Firozabad which he was building all the way to This area to include the saints dargah and thus ensure his blessings for the Empire. As per land records of Firozabad the village near it was bought. This included Bulbulikhana which housed Sultan Raziya’s tomb who was also the saints devotee.
The Kalan Masjid is located in Mohalla Qabristan near Turkman Gate is entered from Turkman gate .

The facade of the projecting entrance is very distinctly Tughlaq style, with it’s characteristic sloping towers and high plinth. Its high stairway resembles the Khidki, Begumpur and Kotla Jami Masjid built by Telingani. Though this is now painted green, the mosques of the Tughlaq era were solid monuments shorn of ornamentation of any kind including calligraphy.
From British Library Shelfmark: Add.Or.4817
Item number: 4817
Lady Hastings is holding a party in the foreground.
“Watercolour of Kalan Masjid from ‘Views by Seeta Ram from Delhi to Tughlikabad Vol. VII’ produced for Lord Moira, afterwards the Marquess of Hastings, by Sita Ram between 1814-15. Marquess of Hastings, the Governor-General of Bengal and the Commander-in-Chief (r.1813-23), was accompanied by artist Sita Ram (flourished c.1810-22) to illustrate his journey from Calcutta to Delhi between 1814-15.
Idealised view of the entrance courtyard and east facade to the Kalan Masjid with its vertiginous flight of steps to the entrance gateway. A group of elephants, soldiers and retainers in the foreground. The Kalan Masjid, located in Delhi, was built in 1387 by the son of Khan-i-Jahan Junan Shah, Prime Minster of Feroz Shah Tughlaq (r.1351-88). The mosque was built in Ferozabad, a section of Delhi, the city built by Feroz Shah Tughlaq but was later included in Shahjahan’s new city Shahjahanabad. Inscribed below: ‘Another view of the same to the West,’ with an illegible pencil inscription along the bottom unused edge of the drawing paper.” (BL site)

This mosque is one of the seven built by Khan e Jahan Telingani and his son Juna Khan in Delhi.
The 7mosques are
1. Khidki ki Masjid
2. Begumpuri Masjid (mosque).
3. A small of mosque in Kalu Sarai
4. A mosque near Hazrat Nizammuddin Aulia Dargah which has a date of 17 years after Delhi’s Kalan Masjid
5. The Jami Masjid in Feroze Shah Kotla
6. A mosque between Lahori & Ajmeri Gates which is mingled with town’s wall
7. Kalan Masjid near Turkman Darwaza in Mohalla Bulbuli Khana.

The word Kalan means big though today it has been corrupted by some to mean Kali or black. It is one of the few functioning medieval mosques in Delhi. The one in Firoz Shah Kotla is also functioning though that is in ruins.
This mosque is under the Delhi Waqf Board who have painted it a bright green and are doing. Good job of maintaining it well
As we enter the steps we see a beautiful hauz /tank for ablutions


The mosque is covered and the aisles are painted white and green and kept scrupulously clean. As in other mosques of Firoz Shah Tughlaq era this too has small domes all along the top.



In case you forget to bring a topi you can get that there too!
There is provision for old fashioned lotas
Or if you are modern for running water

One feature i have noticed in all Delhi dargahs, mosques and monuments is water and feed kept for birds and animals

Till the 50s this area was relatively uncrowded but today it is surrounded by high rise and as you can see from the first photograph taken in 1858 by Major Christpher Tytler and his wife Harriet it has shrunk in size too!


It is a must visit mosque
Add.Or.5475, f.53
Mazhar ‘Ali Khan (fl.1840s), and studio; The Kalan Masjid. From the ‘Metcalfe Album.’
opaque watercolour 1842 British Library

Location: On Kalan Road, near Turkman Gate. Its on the left after Teliyon ka Phatak.

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