Dara Shikoh’s mosque in Srinagar awaits ASI attention

Dara Shikoh’s mosque in Srinagar awaits ASI attention
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Fahim Matoo/Sadaf Shabir

Srinagar: Yet another example of Kashmir’s fine heritage falling into ruin is the centuries-old Masjid Sultan Dara Shikoh, popularly known as Masjid Akhoon Mullah Shah.
Situated on the foothills of Koh-e-Maran near the shrine of Makhdoom Sahib (RA) in old Srinagar, this Mughal structure was built by Dara Shikoh, son of Emperor Shah Jahan, for his tutor Akhoon Mullah Shah (RA). It was built in 1639 AD, of grey limestone. The stone lotus finial over the pulpit is the only example of its kind, but now the lotus is in ruined state while its petals lie fallen inside the mosque.
The stairs leading to the upper portion of the mosque are in dilapidated state. The doors and windows are broken, and the walls a picture of ruin.
“We talked with government officials about this matter but they didn’t pay any attention,” said Zareef Ahmad Zareef, Kashmiri poet and historian, who lives nearby.
Mohammad Shafi Zahid, director of the museums and archaeology department in Srinagar, said that if the mosque is damaged, “it is the duty of the people to come forward and renovate it.”
“This mosque is under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), so contact them. We can’t do anything regarding this,” Zahid said.
Vasant Kumar Swanker, Superintending Archaeologist at ASI, told Kashmir Reader: “We have talked with higher authorities regarding the mosque and soon we are going to start conservation work. The work to save this precious monument will take many years because we want to conserve the monument as it is.”
Farooq Ahmad Bhat, caretaker of the monument, said the government is not serious about conserving the mosque. “No step has been taken till now to conserve this precious heritage of the Valley. We can only keep this place clean. It is the duty of the government to renovate it,” Bhat said.