As heavy rains lashed Delhi on Monday, leaving several parts of the capital heavily flooded, a 19th century mosque seems to have been damaged by the inclement weather.
Located in Old Delhi, the Masjid Mubarak Begum mosque was built in 1822 as the palace and later the dome of Mubarak Begum, the senior most partner of the elderly Sir David Ochterlony , who was the British resident in the Mughal Court.
Photos and videos that went viral on social media show one of the three domes of the mosque reduced to rubble. But while the mosque itself was a relic from another time, its patron and Shahjahanab's famous courtesan, Mubarak Begum, was also a notable character from her times.
In a series of tweets, historian and novelist William Dalrymple revealed how the mosque got its infamous second name, "R***i kia masjid".
Dalrymple Mubarak Begum was born into a brahmin family but then she traveled to Delhi and converted to Islam. She served as a courtesan in the Mughal Court before becoming Ochterlony's partner.
Mubarak Begum was wife of Sir David Ochterlony. She started off a Brahmin girl in Pune; found her way to Delhi where she converted to Islam & married Ochterlony, who built her the last great Mughal tomb, Mubarak Bagh. She then remarried a noble who fought vs the British in 1857. pic.twitter.com/xr1SI0Xh3R— William Dalrymple (@DalrympleWill) July 19, 2020
The historian further said that the courtesan fell from grace when she started getting airs about being the partner of Ochterlony and wanted be called "Lady Ochterlony". This did not sit well with locals as well as her former Mughal patrons who gave her mosque the name, thus earning her mosque its peculiar title. Ochterlony loved her nevertheless and built her several shrines to prove his devotion including the Mubarak Bagh.
After Ochterlony's death, Mubarak Begum remarried a noble who fought vs the Brits in 1857, a conflict which destroyed Mubarak Bagh, only fragments of which survive. Her Haveli remained a place of high Mughal culture & here Fahatullah Baig set The Last Mushairah of Dehli. pic.twitter.com/rzI1btopL9— William Dalrymple (@DalrympleWill) July 19, 2020
After Ochterlony's death, Mubarak Begum married a nawab who went on to fight the British in 1857 in which Mubarak Bagh, built by her former paramour Ochterlony, was destroyed.
Several Delhiites and history loved bemoaned the loss of the glorious red sandstone structure that had so far withstood the vagaries of time and infamy.
As per a report in The Indian Express, live monuments such as temples and mosques are not considered under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the apex body in charge of maintainence and restoration of heritage sites.
The report noted that the Delhi Waqf Board would be taking cognisance of the damage and work toward the repair and restoration of the red sandstone structure.