Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Lentil Mosque

Drive past the high end boutiques of Delhi’s South Extension (South Ex, to Delhites) and behind the posh villas and bungalows into the dusty lanes of village ‘ Masjid  Moth ’ you could, with much difficulty and more luck be able to locate the eponymous 16th century mosque. 

Several stories are in circulation regarding the name 'Moth ki Masjid' or 'Lentil mosque' , built by Miyan Bhoiya, a Prime Minister under Sultan Sikhander Lodhi (1489- 1517). It is believed that the Sultan presented his Minister  a lentil called Moth ka dal which he sowed and later reaped a bountiful harvest. The proceeds from this bounty were used to build this mosque. Hence the name, Moth ki Masjid. 

As legends go, this is not the only version justifying the name. 

Ignore the stench of garbage – just as most of the local residents here ignore the architectural heritage of this mosque itself- and walk around the structure to enter through the arched gate. 

The courtyard with a very laid back attitude, couple of trees , lot of pigeons, a large  elevated ablution tank in the (approximate) center of the courtyard, a chathri (dome ) in a corner, five bays of prayer halls (which gave the mosque another name: Panchmukhi Masjid) with three domes atop. This is Moth Ki Masjid. 

The main entrance is the gate with a corbel styled archicture prevalent at the time preceding the advent of Persian / Islamic style of architecture in mainland India. Stone slabs of gradually increasing sizes placed one  above other atop pictorially embellished columns to form a serrated arch. 

Details including shapes vaguely resembling elephant heads suggest local artisans who have been sculpting human and animal forms did the arches with specific instructions from the Islamic rulers to avoid anything that resembles living beings. 

Ornamentation inside the mosque has several restrained  variations of Hindu / Budhist & Jain symbols. 


  1. beautiful pics & write-up...especially the one with the kids coming out & the kids sitting on the corner. (also the one with the dhoti-man ;))