Aali Masjid for local Kashmiris is more than a mosque. For them it is a symbol of Kashmir’s identity and pride …. writes Zubair Qureshi. Aali Masjid is a jewel in the crown of downtown Srinagar and the present dispensation of Lt. Gov Manoj Sinha gave it a facelift and opened it for tourists and visitors.
In the heart of the old city of Srinagar, the famous Aali Masjid is a masterpiece in the history of Kashmir architecture.
Built by Sultan Ali Shah in 1395 AD, who was the elder brother of Sultan Zain ul Abbideen Budshah. The mosque’s tumultuous history is deeply interwoven with the region’s cultural, spiritual, and political heritage.
Zareef Ahmad Zareef, a local poet and satirist terms Aali Masjid a testament of the artistic brilliance, skill and vision of its builders.
“The mosque is a unique example of the hypostyle architecture that emerged in Iraq and spread throughout the Islamic world. The 156 towering deodar columns that support the hall is a feat of engineering excellence which is truly amazing,” Zareef claims.
The mosque’s front side is made of two deodar columns with stone-carved bases which lead to the main hall.
“As you enter the mosque, you are greeted by an array of stepped pulpits made of devri stone (Devri stone is an impure limestone extracted from the earth at various parts of Kashmir). The wooden pinjra kari work adds to the graceful atmosphere inside the prayer hall,” said an eminent writer.
The hall measures 200x 67 m, consisting of 12 x 12 units forming a grid-like pattern.
Aali Masjid for local Kashmiris is more than a mosque. For them, it is a symbol of Kashmir’s identity and pride.
“The mosque has seen many ups and Downs as odd periods in history left it in shambles. It was worked upon and renovated many times and once by Mughal Governor and architect Ali Mardan Khan. During the Afghan period, the mosque was completely gutted in a devastating fire. It was rebuilt in 1801 by the famous Afghan Governor Sardar Gul Mohammad Khan. The traditional birch bark roof of the mosque was changed to a three-tier CGI roof under the supervision of Mirwaiz Kashmir, Moulana Yousuf Shah sahab, ” added Zareef.
During Dogra’s rule in the early part of the 20th Century, the mosque served as a prominent platform for several political activities.
However, there are some dubious beliefs regarding the mosque being the hub of ghosts and Jinn. During the 1980s and 90s, many believed that the mosque was haunted.
Even today, some locals are scared to offer prayers there. Despite the gossips, mosque remains a loved place for many Kashmiris.
Aali Masjid is a unique jewel in the heart of Kashmir and represents rich history and faith. It is a source of pride and inspiration for us all, said one local Akhtar Abbas.
Aali Masjid is a jewel in the crown of downtown Srinagar and the present dispensation of Lt. Gov Manoj Sinha gave it a facelift and opened it for tourists and visitors.