August 31, 2011

Jama Masjid On Eid Eve In Mumbai

After an early dinner of Surti Thali for Rs. 80/- each at Hotel Surti located at the intersection of the Bhuleshwar Road and the Kalbadevi Road we crossed the crowded intersection and entered the Sheikh Memon Street in a blaze of lights streaming out of shops on either side of the street, the displays of jewellery in the Zaveri Bazaar enticing shoppers rivaling the bustle of the street on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr as we made for the Jama Masjid in Bhuleshwar, among the oldest mosques in Mumbai.

The Bhuleshwar Road terminates at Sheikh Memon Street while the Kalbadevi Road continues to Metro Cinema adjoining Dhobitalao and across the road from Jer Mahal near St. Xavier College.

As dusk fell, the lighted minarets of the Jama Masjid towered over assorted shops shining brightly, among them the diamond and gold merchants of Zaveri Bazaar on Sheikh Memon Street. Past Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri, among India’s best known and biggest jewelry retailers besides being a trusted name in the jewelry business in India, the minaret grew larger, its features now clearly visible in the lights illuminating it.

Mumbai’s Jama Masjid is contrary to what one might expect. From the street there’s no flight of steps leading to an open courtyard fronting the mosque and reached form three sides like it’s with the Jama Masjid in Delhi. Instead Mumbai’s Jama Masjid is a quadrangular building enclosed by buildings opening into the streets.

Hidden from view of the street, an ancient tank lies behind a gate on the eastern entrance of the mosque and is approached past a courtyard behind the arched entrance opening onto the street.

The Jama Masjid was completed in 1802 after a Konkani Muslim merchant consented to its construction on his land in about 1775 provided the ancient tank located in what was formerly a garden was preserved intact. From this ancient water tank rise arches that support the mosque.

The Jama Masjid is located opposite Mangaldas Market at the intersection of the Sheikh Memon Street with the Princess Street and the Janjikar Street. The Crawford located to the south-east of where the Sheikh Memon Street terminates.

Looking up from the street, with my back to street vendors jostling for customers thronging the shops on either side of the Sheikh Memon Street, the Jama Masjid arrays in a series of angled terraces and balconies distinguished by decorative features. Strategically placed lights highlighted the features in the glow of the bustling night market. The domes of the mosque merged with the night.

The Jama Masjid extended the luminescence of Mumbai’s night street to the skies above.

In another time and context the towering minarets of the 19th century masjid might’ve been an extension of the sparkling jewelry in shop windows but today the minarets pushed against overcast skies under the watchful eyes of the Mumbai Police manning the barricades to the congested lanes while camped by patrol vehicles off the entrance to the Jama Masjid.

These are no normal times.

As the month-long dawn to dusk fasting in the month of Ramzan (Ramadan) drew to a close, Mumbai’s Muslim community thronged the markets largely around Pydhonie, Bhuleshwar, and along the Mohammed Ali Road and Crawford Market for last minute shopping on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr before feasts and festivities kick off on Eid tomorrow. Clothes, bangles, and shoes, including false eye-lashes among other things flew off the shelves.


Lucy said...

I have an odd vision of flying false eyelashes! The building is certainly impressive lit up like that.

Connie said...

Beautiful photos and fascinating story as well. That is quite a sight to see. I can imagine hearing the crowd there at the shop at the end.

Lynn said...

The lights are quite lovely at night.

Riot Kitty said...

Lovely photos, I want to go!

Nona said...

Nice pictures

Indian Bazaars said...

I've walked this part many times but never seen it like this. Thanks for sharing these great pictures and what happens at Shaikh Memon street at Eid!

Anil P said...

Lucy: Thank you. False eyelashes flying toward the one they flutter would be fitting :-)

Daisy: Thank you. The bustling market, a thousand voices swirling about the place is like a vortex that pulls one into its heart, to churn and spit out before the next vortex draws one in.

Lynn: Yes, they are.

Riot Kitty: Thank you. Sure, it's worth a visit.

Nona: Thank you.

Indian Bazaars: Thank you. At night the place transforms into another being.