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A stone masonry deck and old artifacts unearthed during excavation for the Subhash Park Metro station have led to speculation among locals that these could be the remains of Akbarabadi Masjid that was razed by the British after the 1857 uprising. While the Archaeological Survey of India is still to inspect these findings, the area’s Muslim residents seem excited about the discovery and have already started revering the site. On Thursday, Matia Mahal MLA Shoaib Iqbal said, “When I was a child, elders used to ask us not to wear shoes and play at this place. They believed the Akbarabadi mosque lay somewhere here. But we never saw any remains. After three weeks of digging, we finally have evidence.” Chandni Mahal resident Md Yasin said, “I think... Read more...
we have found the Akbarabadi mosque because all the marble engravings seem to be very old”. The mosque, built in 1650 AD by one of Shahjahan’s wives, Akbarabadi Begum, was razed almost 160 years ago. People’s sudden interest in it, therefore, may be inspired by childhood tales. A skeptical Inamuddin, who sells shoes outside the Metro site, said: “How can we say this is the same mosque, though we have heard there used to be a very old mosque here?” Iqbal and some other locals said parts of a stone wall and the mosque structure, some stone utensils, pieces of pillars, finials and engravings had been found at the site. When the first artifacts were unearthed, Delhi Metro had denied the possibility of their being remnants of Akbarabadi Masjid. The chief minister, after a meeting with senior Metro officers, chief secretary PK Tripathi and Iqbal, had later said ASI’s opinion would be sought before resuming the Metro work. ASI officials told TOI they had not received any request to inspect the site but would do so all the same. “There are references in several books about the mosque standing at the site in question. But we cannot comment till the area is explored and excavated properly. A detailed study is needed,’’ said a senior ASI official. Superintending archaeologist Dr DN Dimri said he would visit the site soon. “I will see the findings. Other departments in ASI can be involved to authenticate them, and we will handle things accordingly,’’ he said. ASI’s excavation branch and institute of archaeology are likely to be involved. Other conservationists said discovery of the remains was not surprising as the mosque had stood in the area. “It is well known that in the aftermath of 1857 the British cleared hundreds of structures between Jama Masjid and Red Fort, including the Shahjahan-era Akbarabadi Masjid. The mosque would have rivaled Fatehpuri Masjid and Zeenat ul Masjid in scale, and its foundations would be of significant interest,’’ said conservationist Ratish Nanda.