Situated in the heart of Hyderabad’s old city, Makkah Masjid is one of India’s oldest and biggest mosques. Masood took me there during my first visit to the city in 2008. It was late in the afternoon on a week day; people were returning home from work, women were out shopping (most of them in large groups of 5 or 6 women plus children), hawkers occupied half of the extremely busy road, horns blared incessantly, and then there were confused tourists, like myself. And all this in the middle of Hyderabad’s not-s0-friendly summer, when it gets really hot and humid. And though the grand structure of the masjid impressed me, I didn’t have the energy left in me to take pictures, or retain pleasant memories of that first visit.
This year, Masood and I revisited the famous masjid in the morning. We left home sometime after Fajr prayers and reached the masjid before the people of Hyderabad left their homes to go about their daily business. I have never seen the old city in such peace and quiet! I fell in love with the place right then and there, and almost begged Masood to buy a home next to the masjid (I changed my mind that afternoon).
Credit goes t0 Muhammed Quli Qutub Shah, who had commissioned bricks to be made from earth brought from Makkah and used them into the construction of the central arch of the masjid, hence the name. The masjid’s main hall is 75 feet high and can accommodate ten thousand worshipers at a time! There are also extremely huge and intricately-designed chandeliers in the main hall that remains covered in cloth (for protection, I suppose), and are uncovered during Ramadan or Eid.
There was a ‘No Photography Inside the Masjid’ sign at the gate, so even though I was only shooting the exteriors – and that too with a point and shoot camera – I felt shy to take a thousand pictures (the way I normally would). I felt the security guys at the gate looking at us every now and then. So I gave the camera to Masood, and he clicked away confidently like a tourist would. It was good in a way, for I came out from behind the lens and enjoyed the beauty of this masjid that was build in 1694. And except for the occasional fluttering of the pigeons’ wings, there was silence and tranquility.