Sunehri Masjid, Red Fort: Then and Now


Shelfmark: Add.Or.5475 British Library [From ‘Reminiscences of Imperial Delhi’, an album consisting of 89 folios containing approximately 130 paintings of views of the Mughal and pre-Mughal monuments of Delhi commissioned by Metcalfe]
This beautiful mosque was built by Javed Khan Khwaja Sara in 1747AD. Khwaja Sara was the title given to eunuchs who were an integral part of medieval  India. They guarded the harems and were also confidants  of the Emperors  and women of the harem.
Javed Khan was a favourite  of Nawab Qudsia  Begum, wife of Emperor Mohammad Shah and mother of Emperor  Ahmed Shah. He was in charge of the harem and given title of Nawab Bahadur. Qudsia Begum, also known as Udham Bai, was very powerful in the initial years of Mohammad Shah’s reign. When her son, Ahmand Shah, succeeded to the throne in 1748 Qudsia Begum and Javed Khan became centres of power.
There is a beautiful gate which leads upto the courtyard and the mosque.
It was the time of Zohar prayers when we went there and the faithful were gathered there.
The uniqueness of this mosque is tat it’s made of sang e basee a light salmon coloured stone which is not usually used in mosques.
The mosque is surmounted by three domes, which were originally gilt with copper from which it derives its name.
The faithful gathered for prayers, leave their footwear outside as is prescribed for holy places.
The mosque has a main prayer hall and two minarets. These minarets were also gilded but were damaged and replaced by sang e basee by Bahadur Shah.
The central arch of the mosque bears an inscription about the builder of the mosque and date of its construction.
In 1852, Bahadur Shah II had the mosque repaired and replaced the copper plates of the domes with sandstone facing.
Asif Khan Dehlvi waits patiently for me as I am busy clicking pictures.
Thomas Metcalfe in his Imperial Delhi writes
” The natives of India though willing to erect expensive edifices in order to perpetuate their own names, are not equally liberal in repairing the public works of their predecessors.
The Nawab Ahmud Bukhsh Khan, father of the wretched Nawab of Ferozepoor, was an exception to this rule, for he repaired the Mosque in question with a view to the benefit of the neighborhood. Soon after when passing by with his second and favorite son, he was attacked by an infuriated elephant, who killed one of the horses and dashed the vehicle to pieces.
The Nawab and his son were only saved from destruction by the proximity of this mosque in which they were able to take refuge.
This incident has added not a little to the interest of the building.”

Shelfmark: WD179
Pencil and wash drawing of a mosque at Delhi by Thomas (1749-1840) and William (1769-1837) Daniell, dated 23 February 1789.
If you see carefully you will see that this sketch from 1789 is very different from today. A lot of the buildings were destroyed by The British post 1857.
The entrance has a small area which has now been given to the birds which flock most old monuments
The Green grass near it attract weary people and provide a place to rest

Comment List

  • SYED HASAN ABDULRAZZAK 12 / 03 / 2015 Reply


    • Rana Safvi 12 / 03 / 2015 Reply

      Shukriya. Please keep reading my blogs and supporting

  • Asadullah Khan 17 / 03 / 2015 Reply

    Why didn’t you capture the interior? I really wanted to see the interior and the interior of Sonehri Masjid Lahore is mind blowing.

    • Rana Safvi 17 / 03 / 2015 Reply

      There were prayers going on and I didn’t want to disturb. Maybe done other time

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