New Delhi: Restoration work at Jama Masjid begins

New Delhi: Finally, the wait is over and iconic 362-year-old Jama Masjid is all set to get repaired with the traditional lime mortar that was used in construction from 16 century to 19 century.

The Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) team has started repairing the central dome of the iconic structure yesterday. The team has made pits for lime slacking at the site, where the lime will remain soaked for at least two weeks and the repair work is scheduled to start in Februaries third week, the officials reported.

The ASI department’s action comes days after a report was published in HT regarding Jama Masjid’s deteriorating condition on 14 December 2017.

Speaking about the repairs, Union Minister of Culture and tourism Mahesh Sharma said, “Though the mosque is not protected by ASI, the agency will do the required job,” after the original custodian of the Masjid, Delhi Wakf Board (DWB) expressed their inability to repair the Masjid since they lack in funds and expertise.

Earlier, HT had reported about the damage in the mosque where portions of the eaves of all the four dome-shaped chattris had started falling off with several marble pinnacle’s on smaller domes on the northern and southern gates which fell off along with the largest pinnacle on the Central dome was reported as tilted.

Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the Shahi Imam of the Masjid says he had written to the PM’s office as well as ASI in 2016 seeking help with the repair.

It was only after HT published the report on damage, teams from the ASI, the DWB, the divisional commissioner’s office, and the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) had visited the site to inspect the damage.

The restoration work of the mosque would speed up after the Republic Day said a senior official involved with the restoration.

“More raw materials will be sent to the site after January 26. Construction workers will first put scaffolding around the central dome, which has major fracture signs. Hopefully, the masonry work will commence within a month,” said the official, who wants to stay anonymous.

Another offical added that to maintain the original look of the mosque along with strengthening the building, the mortar ingredients will include surkhi (ground red brick), bel giri (wood apple), gud (jaggery), gaund (gum), urad dal (white lentil), and batasha (sugar candy).a

The central dome of the Principal Prayer Hall of the Mosque is reported to be in the worst condition according to Jama Masjid Advisory Council’s (JMAC) general secretary Tariq Bukhari.

The council manages Mosque’s daily affairs and stated white seepage marks are clearly visible on the central dome.

The constant water leakage has developed cracks in the main bulb-shaped structure along with the seepages that have peeled layers of sandstone and plaster from some of the walls and also loosened some of the intricate parapet carvings.

The ASI had last worked on the Mosque in 2007 under a special arrangement since 1956.

The Masjid which is visited by an average 5,000 tourists and nearly 1,000 worshippers who offer namaz at the Mosque was originally named as ‘Masjid-i Jahan Numa’ which was the centerpiece of Shahjahanabad, costed nearly Rs 10 Lakh and took 6 six years to complete the masterpiece which was started in 1648 reported HT.