Spooky mosques haunt the devout in Bhopal

Lamat R. Hasan, India News, October 22, 2006
There are a few mosques here the devout love to give a miss when the muezzin gives a call for prayer – they are believed to be haunted!
One such mosque is aptly called the ‘Djinnaton wali masjid’ (mosque of the djinns). Ashu Mian used to lead the prayers in this nearly 200-year-old mosque for decades till he passed away a year ago.
His wife Shahnaz Apa is still full of anecdotes about Ashu Mian’s encounters with the djinns.
Shahnaz Apa recalls how he had to pray for years to rid the mosque from the wrath of the djinns. The djinns showed up as snakes in this mosque and also in their house, which is adjacent to the shrine.
‘Ashu Mian would pray all night. The djinns eventually stopped harassing us,’ his wife told IANS.
‘Like humans, there are good and bad djinns. While the good ones are helpful, the bad ones often harass people.’
The entire Ginnauri area, where the mosque is situated, as well as the oldest girls’ college (for a year it’s been a boys’ college) behind the mosque, is said to be haunted.
The stretch, which faces the Lower Lake on one side, wears a deserted look. Government buildings built decades ago are still largely unoccupied.
No classes are held in the block of the college, which falls in the haunted territory.
‘There’s a tree on the campus beyond which girls were not encouraged to go. Many girls who ventured into the haunted territory fainted,’ says Fatima, a former student of the college, who is now a grandmother.
There was talk of demolishing the mosque about a decade ago because the government thought it was an encroachment. But Ashu Mian proved in court that it was an old construction.
As for the college management’s allegation that the boys offered their ‘namaz’ in the mosque to get a good glimpse of the girls, Ashu Mian did not worry. Forget boys, even men did not have the courage to offer ‘namaz’ in this small mosque.
Old Bhopal seems to be dotted with such spooky mosques.
One of them is Heera Masjid, located in a French-designed old palace called Shaukat Mahal. Built in 1890, it is a beauty made of white marble.
‘Only the very gutsy step into this mosque,’ says Syed Jamal, a lecturer in mass communications in this Madhya Pradesh capital.
Triq Mirza, a resident of the palace, joked: ‘Half of the palace is entangled in a legal wrangle, and the other half is haunted.
‘They say there is a treasure hidden in a portion of the palace, adjacent to the mosque. One of the inheritors of the palace died digging up for the treasure. He would see blood splashed on the walls and the spirits haunted him till the day he died.
‘Very few people offer ‘namaz’ in this mosque. It is believed that djinns like to pray here,’ he says.
Asked if he offers ‘namaz’ here, he laughs, ‘No. I don’t want to upset the djinns.’
Another haunted mosque – Masjid Maji Kurud Sahab – sits on the banks of the Upper Lake.
Even during the holy month of Ramadan, very few have the courage to go for the ‘iftar’ (breaking of the fast) or for the ‘taravih’ (special Ramadan prayers) here.
Giving it company, on its right, is the Masjid Maji Kalan Sahab, built in 1740, another mosque humans avoid.

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