Page C1.1 . 19 January 2005                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
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Postcard from Khirki Village

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The Khirki Mosque in Khirki Village, New Delhi, India. Photography by Terri Whitehead.

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Dear ArchitectureWeek,

Khirki Village, a small "urbanized village" to the south of New Delhi, conceals Khirki Mosque, one of the city's most famous archaeological monuments. Notable for its unusual architectural style, the mosque's roof has four large openings, creating courtyards for light to penetrate into the monumental, red, sandstone building. The most dramatic views are from the roof where a vast landscape of domes creates a forbidden playground for local children and breathtaking views of the surrounding village. The village takes its name from the mosque khirki means "lattice windows." There are over 40 of these intricate stone screens on the exterior of the building.

This ancient Tughlaq dynasty mosque, built in the 14th century by Khan-I-Jahan, is hidden completely from the main highway, and all views from Khirki Village to the mosque are blocked by illegal housing development. In the last 50 to 60 years, the condition of the building has rapidly declined as the surrounding community has become more Hindu than Moslem. The Archaeological Society of India recently declared it a listed monument, but this has not stopped the locals from dumping garbage, defacing the exterior with graffiti, and removing stones. The roof is caving in, and bats have taken over the empty structure.

The area suffers from lack of public space and has no place for local artists to display their work. Sensitive replanning by the local community to re-establish views from the main road and linking the mosque to the village would improve the quality of life for residents and encourage tourists to return to Khirki.

On the road in Khirki Village, India,
Terri Whitehead

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