Early morning on Sunday, one of the domes of ‘Randi Ki Masjid’ aka ‘Rundi Ki Masjid’, the 19th century mosque of Mubarak Begum came crashing down. Mohammed Zahid, the muezzin heard a loud noise at around 6:45 AM when he came out to see that the central dome of the mosque had fallen down.
Zahid believes the dome came crashing because of lightning after heavy rains lashed the national capital early on the intervening night of 18th and 19th July, 2020. However, despite the damage, the prayers took place on Sunday as people turned up in large number to see the destruction.
Randi Ki Masjid
The mosque, Randi Ki Masjid, was built in Delhi’s Hauz Qazi Chowk and is often referred to as ‘courtesan’s mosque’. The mosque was built by a woman, Mubarak Begum, who was believed to be one of the wives of Sir David Ochterlony, the first British resident of Delhi.
According to Condé Nest Traveller, in the lane of Chawri Bazaar in old delhi, the ‘tawaifs’ (courtesans) would entertain the army soldiers. The ‘Randis’ (yes, the same derogatory word) would rank the highest tawaif. As per the report, the ‘Randis’ were like ‘divas’ who would sing, dance and recite poetries and the nawabs would come to them to learn the art of conversation.
Eventually under the British India, the rich and powerful would visit the ‘Randis’ who had their ears on the ground. “Randis chose and refused admirers as they liked. They weren’t looked down upon, but flaunted by men who entered long-term relationships with them.” writes CNTraveller.
Sir David Ochterlony built the mosque in her honour. Since for the first time, a nautch girl, and not a Mughal queen, had commissioned a mosque, it came to be known as ‘Randi Ki Masjid’.