Spanish Mosque that shows a bit from the SP road, creates curiosity. We planned to visit & reached and were told that we cannot enter the mosque. Later obliged by being told that we can go to a line that was drawn on the floor, good 20 feet away from the door of the mosque. When we asked why the answer had thankfully to do with our gender than our faith.
Disappointment probably showed loud and clear on our faces. One of the guys sitting there teased us that if we want to click pictures and see the mosque we should take permission from Nawab Sahib. I and my photographer friend Lakshmi shared a quick glance and asked him where the Nawab Sahib lived and can we reach him on the phone. The boy pointed out that his house was only a stone’s throw away and we kind of convinced him to take us there. He promptly came with us but got cold feet when he saw that we were actually meant to meet him. He reluctantly gave us his number.
Spanish Mosque, Begumpet
When we spoke to Nawab Sahib, he graciously invited us home. And said he would arrange for someone to show us around the mosque. The descendant of the Paigah dynasty lives in an erstwhile palace with an enviable collection of antiques on display. And as a gracious and patient host. He spoke to us for an hour or so. Gave us lots of insights into the history of Hyderabad and is incidentally working on a book on the same subject. Post this unexpectedly pleasant rendezvous, we were off to the mosque, which was now open to us.
As you zoom around on SP road, you may notice some golden spirals peeping out of the trees against the blue sky. The first impression that you get is that of a church but this is the Begumpet mosque. More popularly known as Spanish Mosque owing to the distinct Spanish architecture that it has. The Paigah noble Sir Vikhar-ul-Umra Iqbal-Ud-Dowla built it in 1906 after a similar mosque in Spain inspired him. This is one of the many gems that he left for the city of Hyderabad. Though he is best known for building Falaknuma. Mosque was a part of the Paigah estate at Begumpet and had several Palaces around it. Some of which are now occupied by various offices like the US embassy and Chiran fort club.
The architecture of this mosque is Moorish to be precise which has its origins in North Africa and the characteristic is its horseshoe arches. Typical domes and minarets are conspicuously missing in this mosque. What you see instead are the spirals emerging on top of the roof. Spirals have an interesting play of golden and light yellow colors with Jaalidar or latticed panels in between.
Inside the mosque, there is the main hall, which is surrounded on three sides by rooms that are now used for storage or other functional utilities. The hall carries a very European feel with its arches and pillars. The calligraphy on the walls is in Turkish instead of the usual Arabic. The pedestal for the priest looks like it belongs to a church more than a mosque and so does a simple bookshelf. The carpet is typically Islamic and the only giveaway.
Clocks to indicate Prayer Times
On one side of the mosque lie the graves of the members of the Paigah family. Graves are simply but elegantly places next to each other. The wuzu tank that was added later can definitely be renovated to merge with the main architectural style. But the absence of the usual ablution tank in the original plan is surprising. And makes you think if it was made for the purpose of being a mosque.
It is a simple and small structure that has been relatively well maintained owing to the fact that it is a private mosque managed by the Paigah family. You get a good top view of the mosque from the flyover on the SP road. And that is the only place where you can see all the spirals.
I think this piece of architecture that may be one of the many imports into the city is a must-visit.
Recommend you read the following travel blog on places to visit in Hyderabad.