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Centuries-old mosque crumbles after Rs120m preservation work

April 22, 2019

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NEW look of the mosque’s facade after preservation work. (Right) Crumbling vaults with many tiles missing inside the mosque.—Dawn
NEW look of the mosque’s facade after preservation work. (Right) Crumbling vaults with many tiles missing inside the mosque.—Dawn

DADU: Cracks have appeared in the walls of 320-year-old Khudaabad mosque despite the fact that Rs120 million have been spent on its preservation over the past five years, raising fears the historic structure may fall apart any moment.

The mosque located in Khudaabad town, 11 kilometres from here along Indus Highway, which remained capital of Sindh during Kalhoro rein from 1701 to 1751 AD, is on the brink of collapse thanks to negligence of the provincial antiquity, culture and tourism department. Tiles have also started falling off the walls, eclipsing its beauty, according to experts and visitors.

Abid Ali Babar, an archaeologist, said the mosque which was built by Kalhoro ruler Mian Yar Mohammad from 1700 to 1718 was in urgent need of repairs and preservation. Recent rains had also done irreparable harm to the structure, he said.

Historian Ihsan Ali Abro said that work on the preservation of the mosque had been going on intermittently since 2009. It was undertaken by the works and services department which kept working on it for six years without seeking expert advice. Millions of rupees were embezzled in the name of the mosque’s preservation, he said.

Afterwards, he said, the provincial antiquity, culture and tourism department took the work in hand and spent Rs120 million in five years without bringing any major improvement to the structure.

NEW look of the mosque’s facade after preservation work. (Right) Crumbling vaults with many tiles missing inside the mosque.—Dawn
NEW look of the mosque’s facade after preservation work. (Right) Crumbling vaults with many tiles missing inside the mosque.—Dawn

He said that established procedure for the conservation was not adopted, substandard material was used instead of cheeroly, a construction material used in historic monuments in past, and Irani tiles were used in place of Sindhi tiles which completely changed the structure’s look. Since material of inferior quality was used tiles had started falling off the walls, he said.

Historian-cum-journalist Wali Chandio feared the mosque could crumble any moment due to the dangerous cracks. Sindh and federal governments should take steps on a war footing for the preservation of the historic mosque, he demanded.

Institute of Art and Design of the University of Sindh’s director Prof Saeed Ahmed Mangi said that the authorities concerned should hire professionals and experts for the preservation of the mosque, which had suffered official neglect for several years.

Manzoor Ali Kanasro, director general of the antiquity, tourism and culture department, said that work on the scheme for the conservation and restoration of Khudaabad mosque started in 2009 under Annual Development Programme.

He said that the work being carried out by works and services department was stopped over objections raised by experts and archeologists and was then handed over to the antiquity department, which hired professionals and experts from Sadiqabad for the work of fresco.

He said that chaff had been used in the construction material of the mosque’s roof, which was completely removed and the roof was reconstructed with cheeroly. Since the work was being done in a professional manner it was taking time, he said, adding it would complete by June 2020.

He said that if the funding was delayed, the completion period could prolong. Still 50 per cent work on the conservation and restoration of the mosque had been done and all cracks within and without the structure would be repaired, he said.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2019