Ratnagiri's Taj Mahal
Ever since it was inaugurated on June 22, the Shafaee Jama Masjid in Kondivare, a small village in Ratnagiri is creating a stir for its stunning architecture and design; MiD DAY's Zafar Sawant travelled to the site for a report from ground zero
Back in January 2009, an almost 40-year-old mosque in Kondivare village, in Ratnagiri’s Sangameshwar taluka, had begun to develop cracks. That’s when it was decided that the existing structure should be demolished to make way for a new mosque.
One look at this newly built mosque, and the effort and the inspiration that went into building this magnificent structure becomes clear. One notices familiar slants of Islamic architecture on its outer façade and interiors including the chandeliers, minarets, mihrab (a semicircle niche in the mosque that indicates the direction of Mecca). A local architect, Amol Patankar from Renukalp Creations, designed this mosque that is spread over 5,000 sq ft. There are special arrangements for women to pray the namaz here as well.
Located midway on the Mumbai-Goa Highway, it is part of the Ratnagiri district in the Konkan belt. The village comprises of around 200 families, predominantly Muslims, where most men serve in the merchant navy. The village is also known for Darul Uloom Imam Ahmed Raza, one of the biggest madrasas in India that caters to over 1,500 students.
We caught up with the architect to share with us his experiences while working on this architectural wonder of Ratnagiri
What was the inspiration behind the mosque?
The Taj Mahal in Agra. You will be able to spot the similarities in the dome design, exterior carvings and the front view. However, one must visualise the mosque in isolation to be able to appreciate its significance.
What were the challenges you faced while working on it?
Being a Hindu, I had no idea of Islam, had never been to a mosque and never followed Islamic architecture. It was quite a challenge. I surfed for all the information about Islam and its architecture. I also studied photographs of mosques and visited a few as well. I live in Kolhapur, which is around 150 kms from the mosque site. I would travel daily, from Kolhapur to the site on my two-wheeler scooter. This was a total of 300 km travel daily!
Is this the first mosque you have ever designed?
Yes. Though I had designed three temples in Kolhapur.
Tell us about the unique features of this mosque
This mosque was built primarily using concrete and marble. Even the carvings were designed in concrete for longevity though these are usually done in stone/Plaster Of Paris (POP). Stone carvings would have been very time-consuming and could have delayed the project. The workforce comprised of 86 people mostly from Rajasthan who were involved in plastering, carving, POP, tiles, electrical and plumbing. Even the marble was ordered from Rajasthan. The dome is 18 ft in diameter, 32 ft in height while the minar towers up to 78 ft, 6 inches in height.