History of Masjid Aiwan-e-Begumpet
The Spanish Mosque, commonly called Masjid Aiwan-e-Begumpet was built by 'Viqar-ul-Umara', the inimitable structure is the only religious building of its kind in the entire sub-continent. Its spare minimalistic style inspired by the Cathedral-Mosque of Córdoba in Spain sparks several questions in the minds of first time visitors.
The first and the most prominent question that strikes a visitor is why was this mosque built in a style so different from other mosques in the city and built using Mughal or Qutub Shahi architectural styles? The answer is entwined with the history of this mustard coloured, Church-like building.
The Spanish Mosque was built by Viqar-ul-Umara, the prime minister of Nizam and a Paigah Noble who loved travelling. He travelled extensively to Europe and on one of his sojourns came across the Cathedral Mosque in Spain.
This mosque had a great impact on the noble and he commissioned one of the architects from Europe to build the Spanish Mosque, after returning back. However, this great visionary could not see the completion of his dream project. His son Sultan-ul-Mulk is said to have got the mosque completed in the year 1908.
This mosque which took some eight years to construct was built for nobles to pray, the palaces of whom are still existent. The renowned seven Paigah Palaces were also constructed in Begumpet during the same period.
This mustard coloured mosque has been an attraction for several architects studying heritage buildings. Old buildings tell stories. What this mosque tells us about its maker is that he was a connoisseur and visionary. And it also informs us that there was a lot of intercultural exchange happening between the two cultures, Islamic and European, at that time.
Unique Features of Masjid Aiwan-e-Begumpet
Unique features of the mosque are the arches which are petal-shaped. There is ornamentation at the cusp of these petal-shaped arches, with medallions on both sides. The main roof composed of two truncated octagonal pyramids placed one above the other, is also pointed. Atypical of Indian architecture, the mosque comprises of a main prayer hall, two rooms in front of it and a central corridor for entering the hall.
What was most heart breaking is that such a great and unique heritage site was also one of the most unknown! Most tourists also give it a miss, in favor of the other well-known attractions of the city. It is rarely visited by foreigners as well, because of the shifting of the international airport from Begumpet to Shamshabad.