Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
Darya Ganj is home to four prominent mosques, three of these are Sunehri Masjids, named so due to the fact that the top wooden dome was initially coated with gilt and copper which shone like gold in sun while the fourth one is Zeenat Ul Masajid.
Zeenat Ul Masajid
Built around 1700 by Shahjahan’s daughter Zeenat-un-Nissa, Zeenat Ul Masajid is a typical Mughal era mosque with minars, three domes, each striped, an upturned lotus, a string of kalashes and a lily at the top. Even today, people pray here.
Zeenat-Un-Nissa was the spiritually-minded daughter of Shahjahan, influenced greatly by her aunt Jahan Ara. She patronised various art forms and artists and also gave pensions to pious people. Calligraphy interested her a lot. After Zeenat’s death, a small tomb was built here in her memory but after the 1857 War of Independence by India, the British confiscated this mosque and demolished the tomb. The mosque then served as a bakery for the British Army. But 20 years later, in 1877, the mosque was restored to the people of Delhi. This mosque is also called Ghata Masjid because its south door, the main entrance to the mosque, faced the Ghat (gate) of the Walled
The masjid built by Zeenat-un-Nissa
One of the three Sunheri Masjids was built by Qudsia Begum while the other two were constructed by Roshan-ud-Daula Zafar Khan. Of these three, the one located next to Gurudwara Sisganj is without doubt the most prominent one.
Qudsia Begum was one of the consorts of Mughal ruler Muhammad Shah while Roshan-ud-Daula hailed from the Khwaza Naqksbandiya family which had migrated to India during the reign of Shah Jahan. His real name was Khwaza Muzaffar.
The first Sunheri Masjid is located near the Delhi Gate of the Red Fort. A Persian inscription here says the mosque was built in 1751 by Javed Khan on the orders of Qudsia Begum. When Muhammad Shah died, the throne was passed on to his son from Qudsia Begum, Ahmad Shah, but since he was too young, the city was ruled by his mother Qudsia Begum. Javed Khan happened to be the eunuch-in-charge of the harem at that time and considered very powerful owing to his proximity with Qudsia Begum.
Sometime in 1852, the then ruler Bahadur Shah Zafar renovated the mosque and re-made the dome in sandstone. Like other structures in the area, this mosque too was confiscated by the British in 1857 and was restored to people only in 20th century. It is functional till date.
Sunheri Masjid near Delhi Gate
The second Sunheri Masjid is located behind a row of shops on Netaji Subhash Road, on the left when you are driving or walking down from Delhi Gate side to Red Fort. The golden dome is missing. It was built by Roshan-ud-Daula Zafar Khan in 1720. The story of missing dome goes like this: When the Sunheri Masjid next to Sisganj Gurudwara was damaged and needed repair, Roshan-ud-Daula Zafar Khan got the dome of this mosque removed and replaced it there as more people frequented it than the one here. This one has had no dome ever since. Nevertheless it is a functional mosque too.
Sunheri Masjid on Netaji Subhash Marg
The third Sunheri Masjid is located near Gurudwara Sis Ganj in Chandni Chowk, once an imperial boulevard leading to the Red Fort. Some historians date this mosque to 1721 while others say it was built around 1744-45.
At a height of 2.1-metre from the ground level, the mosque is decorated with green floral patterns.
History tells us that the Persian invader Nadir Shah spent several hours on the top of this mosque on March 11, 1739 watching the massacre that he had ordered, which resulted in the death of 30,000 people. The mosque’s original appearance has been altered as extensions have been made to accommodate a large number of people who visit this place to pray.
Sunheri Masjid in Chandni Chowk