The Kerala Mosques That Have Been Restored To Their Past Glory
The remaining structures are a testament to the rich cultural and historical heritage of a society. They include architectural styles, crafts, and artistic elements that represent a particular era or cultural influence. Preserving historical remains helps maintain a tangible connection with the past and helps future generations understand their cultural heritage.
Many of the heritage mosques in Kerala exhibit exceptional architectural and artistic features, showcasing the skills of artisans of yesteryear. These structures often reflect a blend of indigenous and foreign architectural influences.
Changes in construction are taking place according to the living conditions of people, social changes, and the characteristics of construction materials. Concrete, which was invented in the middle of the 18th century, began to be actively used in the middle of the 19th century. As it is a material that bends to the shape intended by humans, there are constructions that satisfy the human imagination. In the late 20th century, concrete structures emerged around many old mosques that were very beautifully built, destroying the traditional uniqueness of the mosques that were sleeping in history. Concrete buildings have changed the architecture of the masjid beyond the architectural considerations and traditions of Kerala.
History is heritage. For those who don't know its value, how many times have we seen priceless historical monuments being mutilated and carelessly handled? There are many examples of historical monuments being neglected or destroyed due to wear and tear while expanding historical monuments.
Centuries-old, priceless remnants were carelessly washed away. The restoration work of Cheraman Juma Masjid, Saukar Masjid, Maqam Masjid, and Mizri Masjid gives a definite answer to the question of whether it is possible to facilitate without leaving a scratch on the tradition.
Cheraman Juma Masjid
Built by Malik Dinar at the behest of Cheraman Perumal, this masjid is a remarkable landmark in the history of India. Cheraman Masjid, built in Kerala Vastu style, is located at Kodungallur in Thrissur district. Cheraman Masjid, the first masjid in India, was renovated as part of the Muziris Heritage Project. In order to revive the historical and cultural outlook of the ancient port of Muziris, many monuments and places of historical importance have been preserved under the Muziris Heritage Project, which was set up by the Government of Kerala under the Department of Tourism and the conservation consultancy was done by Benny Kuriakose & Associates.
This building, which stood tall in Kodungallur for many years and was the pride of Kerala architecture, was reconstructed in 1974 and 1994, which damaged the unique style of the masjid. These unpleasant additions were later removed during the conservation, and the other inner part of the mosque, similar to the temple architecture, was preserved. Earlier, the churches, mosques, and temples shared a similar architecture and vastu style. Conservation works were carried out by maintaining the small church and the dars, or religious study center, on the second floor. The parts of the roof with the old timber and other parts had already started to decay, and they were repaired and the fully damaged parts were replaced by teak wood and were rebuilt in the old way. The original parts of the existing mosque have also been preserved.
Alappuzha is a town of beautiful visual charm bordered by the sea, backwaters, and bays. The Vada canal was built for the smooth running of water traffic.On the banks of the canal, commercial canal, link canal, etc., we can see many structures that evoke the glory of the past.
Saukar Masjid, located on the banks of the commercial canal, is one of the landmarks of Islamic heritage in Alappuzha. It is a place of worship for the Halai Memon community, which came from Porbandar. Historical records testify that it was built by the Diwan Raja Keshavadas, who is considered as the architect of Alappuzha Town. Among the remaining heritage structures in Alappuzha, this precious mosque has also been damaged due to age. It was at this stage that the conservation work on the mosque was undertaken as part of the Alappuzha Heritage Project under the Tourism Department of the Kerala Government.
The Alappuzha Heritage Project is a project that was created with the aim of restoring the golden age of Alappuzha. The renovation works of the masjid were under the leadership of its conservation consultant, Dr. Benny Kuriakose, and have been completed. The renovation of the mosque without losing its identity is exemplary by maintaining the old structure and doing justice to the history and culture. The architecture of the mosque with its chimney minarets is impressive, and Saukar Masjid bears resemblance to the ancient mosques of Turkey and Eastern Europe.
Maqam Masjid is the oldest mosque in Alappuzha, built in Kerala's unique Vaastu style and located near the Civil Station.
Built in the middle of the 19th century, the Maqam Masjid is known for its beautiful architecture, with one part of the L shaped building having two floors. Here we can see a fusion of traditional Kerala style and Islamic influences. The masjid is characterized by intricate timber work, unique patterns and a spacious prayer hall. The wooden beams and roof used for the construction were damaged and dilapidated, and restoration work was carried out as part of the Alappuzha Heritage Project and turned into a protected place of worship.
As an ancient port city, Ponnani has had trade relations with Arabs and Persians since ancient times. This set the stage for cultural exchange, through which Arabian, Persian, and North Indian cultures reached Ponnani. The remains of cultural integration can still be seen in Ponnani. One such example is Misri Masjid. Historians say that to help Kunjali Marakar, the head of the Samuthiri, fight the Portugese in Ponnani, an army came from Egypt, and for them it was constructed.
The 500-year-old mosque had fallen into disrepair due to age, and the facade was demolished for renovation. This was done without a proper master plan. But when the demand to keep the historical heritage mosque intact, the government intervened in the matter. Misri Mosque is a symbol of freedom struggle and cultural integration as well as a center of worship. It has been renovated to suit the unique style of the mosque and is included in the Muziris Heritage Project.
The mosques of yesteryear were not just places of religious worship but also repositories of rich cultural and historical heritage. By ensuring its survival, it creates an opportunity for future generations to see and learn about it. They also convey a message of respect for diverse religious traditions and become places where people from different backgrounds can come. The restoration of the above-mentioned mosques is, in a sense, an apology to history.