SRINAGAR: Caretakers at Jamia Masjid in old Srinagar are battling roof leakages, aggravated by bird droppings that have resulted in rapid decay of galvanised iron sheets in several portions of this historic mosque.
With almost forty leakages plugged recently by the caretakers , Anjuman Auquf, that looks after this grand mosque is contemplating to entirely change the worn-out sheets on four of its minarets as work on the eastern minaret is in progress.
According to the executive officer Auqaf, Zaffar Ahmad Khan, the pigeon droppings have always remained a challenge for them. “They always aggravate the decay in any worn-out portions of GI sheets,” he said.
The wearing of roofing, Zaffar said, mostly ends up in major leakages. “At times these reach the main complex on the ground and we have to replace the sheets. That is what we have been doing,” he said.
The vast expanse of the mosque, according to the caretakers, invites pigeons form surrounding and drooping gets piled up in several portions of the mosque that need frequent clearing.
“Most of the time purlins get chocked and we need to clean them to drain the water properly,” said one of the caretakers.
Khan said that it is quite difficult to keep pigeons at bay. “Thus we take more care of cleaning the areas where droppings accumulate,” he said.
The GI roofing, according to mosque documentation was first installed during the regime of Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad in 1953 and this too has shown signs of withering in many portions.
Prior to GI roofing, the mosque had a birch bark and shingle roofing on various portions.
The document reveals that income from a Migrant Muslim Kashmiri property was used to undertake this replacement in 1953 that then had cost Rs 81 thousand.
Khan said that GI sheets also need a replacement as many portions have shown lot of decay.
“This time Auquf will be replacing the GI sheets on all the four minarets and first we have taken the eastern minaret towards the main road on Gojwara,” he added.
The workers at the site say that they will have to install scaffolding all around the minaret to carry this renovation more than 120 feet above ground.
Muhamamd Yousuf, one of the workers at the site said, “It is quite risky here and we will have to install every sheet carefully. We are happy to be part of this work, but it is quite windy at the top.”
A major renovation of this mosque, according to documents, was carried out from 1917 onwards during the reign of Maharaja Pratap Singh, who according to a decree ordered to levy a sum of half anna on each rupee got as revenue from Muslim Zamindars here to be used for restoration of this mosque.
The work was undertaken by Engineer Khan Bhadur Sayed Jaffer Hassen, who along with Thud Every spent Rs 13 lakh on its restoration.
Prior to this in 1885 some restoration work was carried out by an amount sent by Nawab Abdul Gani, whose ancestors were from Kashmir.
Jamia Masjid of Srinagar was built by Sultan Skinder Sahmiri in 1394 and was destroyed thrice by fires raging in its vicinity. The present expanse of the mosque spans 14000 square feet of area that comprises a built up area and central courtyard.