Once a prayer hall for Mughal emperors during their visits to Kashmir in the summer, the 300-square feet, 16th century mosque in the Khanpur mughal sarai (inn) in Budgam is a picture of forlorn neglect.
The mosque of stone and lime mortar with a tiled roof, stands out despite the several new constructions coming up around it. It has the typical architectural grammar of the Mughal era, with small arched windows well placed to allow cross ventilation and the ‘Mehrab’, a semicircular niche in the wall to lead prayers.
But in an ominous sign, the ancient chinar tree which stood by the mosque was cut down last month by locals. The destruction of the tree, a constant at all religious places in Kashmir, came despite the ban on the felling of the species.
“The chinar was precariously positioned and may have damaged nearby houses,” said Rasheed Ahmad, a nearby shopkeeper, justifying the axing of the ancient tree.