Hyderabad: Past deadline, Mecca Masjid restoration works incomplete

Hyderabad: Restoration works of the centuries old Mecca Masjid Hyderabad has passed its deadline and is nowhere near completion.

The final phase of the work – the electrification – was not yet started because the Department of Heritage and Department of Roads & Buildings have no expertise in taking up restoration works at heritage structures. Hence, works at the historic Mecca Masjid are still pending.

The Telangana government sanctioned in 2017 a budget of Rs 8.5 crore for works. Five years on it is nowhere near completion. The Department of Heritage took up restoration works with the help of private firms. Conservation works on the mosque, is being done with special lime plaster, is still incomplete. One dome of the Mecca Masjid and other areas in the main hall are to be completed and hopefully it will be done by the end of the year.

The main problem is electrification, which is the most delicate part, said government officials. The Department of Heritage and Road and Buildings Department so far have not taken up any electrification assignment anywhere at heritage monuments. “It requires expertise and only construction firms which are previously experienced can take it up,” said an official of the Department of Heritage when asked about the status of works at Mecca Masjid.

Dept of Heritage severely under staffed

Ironically, the Department itself is struggling to manage different tasks as only two officials are handling various works there. Hence works at sites like the Mecca Masjid are getting delayed. The office located at Gunfoundry has many class IV employees, but not many senior officials. Astonishingly, it does not even have a full time Director to take care of different works executed by the department.

The Minority Welfare Department has now suggested to the Department of Heritage to approach the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), which has expertise in restoration and conservation of heritage monuments. If it goes through, then the Mecca Masjid might get restored on the lines of the Qutb Shahi tombs.

The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation undertook constructions of new toilets and ‘wudu khana’ (ablution space) at the Mecca Masjid. After completion the beautification works will be done by planting some flowering plants.

Before starting works at the Mecca Masjid, the Department of Heritage, along with the firm engaged for conservation of the mosque, studied the monument for around a year. A plan was formed keeping in mind the monument’s reaction to various climates before preparing a plan.

History of Mecca Masjid

Construction of the Mecca Masjid began around 1616. It was done during the reign of Sultan Mohd Qutb Shah, the fifth Shia Muslim ruler of the Golconda or Qutb Shahi dynasty, which founded Hyderabad (1591). It is said that the king put some soil(or a brick) from the holy Kaaba in Mecca. Mohd Qutb Shah himself is said to have laid the mosque’s foundation.

However, the Mecca Masjid was not completed in the Golconda period. The Mughals under emperor Aurangzeb destroyed Hyderabad in 1687 and conquered the city. The mosque was completed in the mid 1690s by the Mughal king after his conquest.