Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Wallajah Mosque Chennai's biggest mosque

Wallajah Mosque, also known as the big mosque of Triplicane in Chennai is not only a popular mosque but also one of the oldest ones in this region. Considered as the largest mosque, it is located on the triplicane High road and was built in 1795 by the family of Muhamad Ali Khan Wallajah, (7 July 1717 - 13 October 1795) the Nawob  of Arcot.  The mosque can easily accommodate  a few thousands worshippers at a time.The unique feature about this mosque built in Mogul style is it is entirely made of grey granite with no wood or iron. This mosque with two 131 feet (40 m)

Triplicane, Chennai Wallajah Mosque
tall minarets has a large prayer hall and a tank for ablution. This mosque is being patronized by a large number of Muslims living in Triplicane and other areas. The mausoleums of important people associated with the Royal family of Nawob of Arcot are located to the West of the sanctum.Two of it domes are gold plated.

The Nawab of Arcot was  a man of affable  and courteous nature and had treated the Hindus well. Under his rule, many Hindus held position of power and his personal secretary was a Hindu.  When you enter the mosque there is a  chronogram written in Persian by Raja Makhhan Lal Bahdur Khirat, the Hindu Munshi of the Nawab, The mosque is being administered by the Prince of Arcot Endowments Trust. The prince of Arcot is being held in great esteem in Tamil Nadu  and many of his employees are Hindus, symbolizing peaceful coexistence between the two religions.

In the past, the  Nawab of Arcot, a loyal ally of the British moved into Chepauk Palace in 1768 and since then his descendants have been living in part of the building. The Chepauk Palace is close to Ft. St. George built by the British. During his time, a large community of Marakayar Muslims - roughly 20,000 in number  moved with him to the city. It is said to be the largest  Muslim community in South India after Hyderabad. Under the Arcot Nawob rule, litigation  was resolved under Muslim Law irrespective of the religion of the accused. Historians  strongly believe the cultural fabric of this part of Madras (Chennai) had become enriched after the mosque was built, The same location has a famous Hindu temple - Parthasarathy Temple and the Portuguese Christian Church of San Thome.
Muhammad Ali Khan Wallajah, the Nawab of
Thus, the Wallajah mosque came up in Triplicane (in local parlance Tiruvallikkani) to cater to the spiritual needs of the Muslims of this area. Of late, the mosque is not large enough to handle too many devotees on festive occasions. During Ramzan and Bakrid, the congregation for the Eid prayers is so large that the crowd spills out of the mosque into the open space. Further, in certain seasons,  if there is heavy downpour, shamianas  temporarily put up by the  administrators of the mosque are insufficient to prevent the congregation from being drenched.