Mosque in the Lake - Captivating Calcutta
softetechnologies
22-11-2019    72 times
Mosque Lake Calcutta

Many people, especially people living in the southern part of Calcutta, must be aware of a little mosque in the middle of the Dhakuria Lake, renamed Rabindra Sarobar in May 1958. The cable bridge that connects the island containing the mosque was constructed by Burn & Co in 1926 and its wooden surface was replaced with metal in 1962. While a small congregation offers prayers at the mosque, the bridge has become a favourite spot for the youngsters, especially the lovers, due to its secluded location. Nevertheless, the unusual existence of a mosque in the middle of the lake, undoubtedly ignites inquisitiveness.

Even, during the early part of the 20th century, the southern part of the city of Calcutta, far away from the European town, was mostly a wetland of large marsh and swamps, dominated by tall grasses and reeds, trees and shrubs. However, the Calcutta Improvement Trust, formed in 1911, acquired about 192 acres of marshy jungles of the area in 1920, with the intention to develop the area for residential use. The project necessarily included raising and levelling some of the adjacent land, creating roads for better connectivity and excavating a lake for beautification. Originally, the area contained a lake covering some 76.76 Hectares. In addition to that, an extension of the lake was excavated to a depth of 25 feet below the surface of the original one and both of them were connected. The major excavations were completed by 1929 and the soil excavated from the site was used to fill up low-lying area and the island was formed to retain the mosque that predates the period.

mosque in the lake

Sometimes during the past, the caretaker of the mosque claimed the mosque as his ancestral property. According to him, his family was one of the residents of Gobindapur village and when the British East India Company decided to build their new fort, the family was ousted, along with the other residents of Gobindapur and the present lake area was given to them as compensation. The mosque was reported to be built by his great grandfather or the great, great grandfather. However, in the absence of any documentary evidence, it seems to be impossible to find any truth in it.

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A narrow passage to the left of the Lake Club’s main gate leads to a large metal gate and a path through the gate leads to the bridge that connects the mosque to the shore. Unfortunately, the recent renovation of the mosque added with a fresh coat of gaudy green colour has destroyed its heritage character. Apart from that, the trees that were intentionally planted around the island, have now blocked the view of the mosque to such an extent that it is impossible to get a clear shot of the building.

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In 2013, there was a strong public protest over the signs that appeared around the mosque, barring entry to the island for all except those who offer prayer at the mosque. It was firmly argued that, since the island is the property of the Kolkata Improvement Trust (former Calcutta Improvement Trust), it should be made accessible to all as it has always been. In his turn, the Imam of the mosque, who personally ordered the posters prohibiting the entry of the non-namazis, maintained that the mosque is a private property and the prohibition was aimed to stop the immoral activities on the island. The final outcome of the controversy is unknown.

mosque in the lake
softetechnologies
softetechnologies
    Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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