MOTH KI MASJID
Moth Ki Masjid is situated within the Masjid Moth Village and is surrounded in front by the urban, residential and commercial settlements of South Extension Part II in South Delhi and close to Uday Park. It is easily approachable from Dhaula Kuan or from Yusuf Sarai in South Delhi. The best landmark is the All India Institute of Medical Sciences Hospital that comes right before South extension if you travel from Dhaula Kuan or Yusuf Sarai and hence is accessible by local transport.
Moth Ki Masjid was constructed within the fourth ancient medieval city of Delhi that was under the reign of the Delhi Sultanate. It was built in 1505 by Wazir Miya Bhoiya who was a Prime Minister at the Royal Courts of Sultan Sikandar Lodi aka Nizam Khan who was the second ruler of the Afghan-Lodi dynasty. It was considered as one of the most beautiful mosques that depict a stunning ‘Gumbad’ or ‘Domed’ roof Structural design commonly seen in most of the structures during that era.
Moth Ki Masjid which means ‘Lentil Mosque’ has interesting versions of a tale attached to it. One Legend has that Sultan Sikandar Lodi once visited a Mosque that was earlier present next to where the Moth Masjid stands today, to offer his prayers. When he knelt down, his knees touched a small grain of moth or lentil which was earlier dropped by a bird and this entire incident was observed by Wazir Miya Bhoiya who was then, the Sultan’s loyal Prime Minister. Wazir felt the need to preserve this seed which was honoured by the touch of his majesty and decided to use it towards the service of God as the incident took place within a mosque.
Wazir planted this seed in his garden and the seed multiplied over the years under the great care and nurture of this Prime Minister. He then sold the crops that grew from these moth seeds and earned well. After seeking permission from the Sultan, Wazir used this money to construct this impressive mosque of which the foundation stone was laid by his Sultan Sikandar Lodi who was really impressed with the Minister’s inventive Skills and creative imagination. Upon completion, the mosque was named after the incident as ‘Moth Ki Masjid’ or the ‘Mosque of a Lentil seed’.
Another Legend has that when Sultan Sikandar Lodi visited the mosque for his prayers, he jokingly gave a grain of moth to his Prime Minister who took the gift seriously and planted the moth seed in his garden. After years of caring and tendering, the seed multiplied and produced a rich harvest due to which Wazir earned a rich source of income. He then decided to construct a mosque in dedication to the lentil grain which earned him wealth and upon completion, invited the Sultan to visit the mosque and narrated the entire story to him and since then, the mosque got its name as the ‘Moth Ki Masjid’.
Moth Ki Masjid was constructed on a raised platform made of stone which were embedded with columns and in the shape of a square. Its entrance lies towards the eastern side of the Moti Masjid Village Street and welcomes tourists through a flight of steps that leads them through a partially ruined gateway which is made of sandstone in black, blue, white and red colours which is hardly noticeable today. This entrance gate depicts exquisite Hindu and Islamic designs and patterns which have been neatly arranged especially the arch opening that reveals an arch designed in the Hindu style embossed within the main arch seen in the Muslim style of design.
The Gateway of this Moth Ki Masjid leads you further into the main courtyard of the Mosque measuring 126.6 feet wide that lies within a walled enclosure. The Mosque lies towards the western portion of this courtyard which reveals the porch of the main rectangular shaped Prayer Hall that depicts a front view of five arched openings that cascades through the hallway. Each corner of this Prayer Hall is dressed with a double storied Tower that opens towards its rear end through arch shaped openings surmounted with octagonal shaped chhatris or cenotaphs which is known to be the first of its kind that was ever built in Delhi and later was replicated by other rulers while the western portion of the wall depicts turrets that tapers along a stunning outline designed exquisitely.
The Prayer Hall is surmounted with three imposing domes with a central dome supported by small corbelled towers that forms the largest one amongst the other two and homes the main ‘Mihrab’ placed on its western qibla wall which is seen with small towers projecting out of it. This Mihrab reveal inscriptions of verses from the Holy Book ‘Quran’ engraved in the typical Iranian design of flora Nakashi. The mosque is inlaid with carved panels made of red sandstone, plaster, white marble and glazed tiles. Interestingly, the mosque reveals the absence of minarets or pillars, embellishments and calligraphic imprints which are typical features and designs seen in most of the Islamic Mosques despite the fact that this mosque was designed in the Indo-Islamic style of architecture. The main dome of the mosque is semi-circular in shape and the windows are dressed with screens that depict beautiful lattice work.
Moth Ki Masjid does not charge any entry fee due to its ancient and religious importance and is opened to all the public from early morning hours up till sunset. This mosque was known as a private masjid of Prime Minister, Wazir Miya Bhoiya, which became a significant part of his life without which, his name would have been lost within the pages of history and hence he definitely owes his recognition and fame to Moth Ki Masjid which has made him a prominent historical figure for eternity.