Invoking the Grandeur of the Heritage - Thazhathangadi Juma Masjid
Three kilometres away from Kottayam city in Kerala on the Kottayam-Kumarakam route, the old Juma Masjid stands at Thazhathangadi, the major commercial hub of the old Kottayam town, which is blessed with many heritage structures. Standing tall on the banks of the Meenachil river, this architecturally beautiful building is a proud pillar of the Muslim heritage of Thazhanthangadi.
According to legend, the King of Thekkumkur erected this magnificent mosque for the benefit of the local believers in Thazhanthangadi. It is also said that Malik Bin Habib, Malik Bin Dinar's nephew, who travelled to Thazhanthangadi to propagate Islam, was responsible for its construction.
According to local historian Pallikkonam Rajeev, the Juma Masjid in Thazhanthangadi and the Shiva temple in Tali were both erected at about the same time. Also, the mosque was erected by ‘ Vishwakarmajars ' who were taken from Kodungallur and lived there when Vemboli was a part of the kingdom.
Historians and architectural experts suggest that the mosque is more than a thousand years old.
Red stone, clay and timber, which were used for construction in ancient Kerala architecture, have been mainly used for the construction of the Thazhathangadi Juma Masjid.
The mosque is built as a two-storied mansion with a height of 35 feet. The area of the mosque is 4,200 square feet on two floors, with a length of 50 feet and a width of 42 feet.
Beautiful teak timber carvings embellish the Masjid's interior, which includes the windows and the ceiling with a pitched sloping roof.
The interior of the mosque is divided into two sections ‘ Akampalli ‘ and ‘ Purampalli ‘ Akampalli is mainly used only during Namaz and then it is customary to close it .
The architectural style of the inner mosque is remarkable. The construction in such a way that air circulation is easy and the south-west wind coming through the windows act as a cooling system inside the mosque.
Excellent examples of sculpture may be seen on the wall of the mosque's eastern verandah, which is located in front of the main prayer chamber, where Quranic verses have been carved in timber. Impressive floral designs can be seen throughout the masjid, and they are evocative of Daru sculpture. The pulpit used by the Imam (mimbar) inside the mosque is also a marvel of carvings.
A historical sword gifted to the mosque by the King of Thekkumkur, who was ruling as the center of Thazhathangadi in the 15th century, is also used for prayer.
The carvings on the inside of the masjid’s top ceiling endeavour for deep visual detail. The timber staircase, which leads to the upper floor, has a variety of architectural characteristics. Exceptional craftsmanship can be seen in the carvings, windows, and roof.
Those who visited the mosque for prayer in the past mostly used the pond seen on the north side of the building's exterior to cleanse themselves. The pond is now unusable and now people coming for the prayers depend on the piping system for sanitation.
Although the mosque faces east and is oriented east-west, the present entrance is on the north side. The north facades where the entrance is and east elevation are spectacular with distinctive carvings. Spectacular visual experience is provided by the carvings and ornamentation on the "Mugappu," which are painted in vibrant shades.
At the front of the mosque is a massive stone tank that is breathtaking. It is precisely cut out of a single stone. Through a separate pathway, water from the well next to the mosque enters this storage tank. Only after washing hands and feet with this water is one permitted to enter the mosque.
The shadow clock seen at the north end of the mosque was used to understand the order of the sun's rays in the past and thus the time of prayer was determined. The stone lamp that was used to lit the entrance of the mosque at night can still be seen by those who visits the place.
At a time when many ancient mosques and traditional buildings in Kerala are turning into concrete structures, losing their traditional uniqueness, the Thazhanthangadi Juma Masjid stands tall in the glory of tradition and the majesty of Kerala Vastu Vidya.
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