Iconic Cheraman Masjid, India’s oldest, gets a makeover

An amount of ₹2.23-crore was spent on the renovation of the Holy Cross Church at Chendamangalam, which was built by Jesuit priests in 1577 AD.  

The Cheraman Juma Masjid at Kodungalloor, the oldest mosque in the Indian subcontinent that dates back to 629 AD, and the Holy Cross Church at Chendamangalam built by Jesuit priests in 1577 AD, both of which were renovated under the Muziris Heritage Project, are getting ready to be opened to the public.

A completion report on their renovation has been submitted to the government to be included in the list of projects under the Chief Minister’s 100-day action plan. Just a few final touches are pending on both the structures, said P.M. Noushad, managing director, Muziris Heritage Project.

On the renovation and conservation work worth ₹1.14 crore done on the historic mosque, he said the concrete structure that was added to the mosque in 1974 was demolished and the mosque rebuilt in its old style, as a two-tier structure whose tiled roof was supported by teakwood frames. This is in addition to the Islamic Heritage Museum that was established at a cost of over ₹1 crore. Another ₹65 lakh was allotted for its refurbishment. This is apart from heritage funds that were used for research and digitalisation of old documents and archiving them.

“The mosque committee raised another ₹15 crore for well-ventilated prayer halls in the basement to accommodate approximately 3,000 people at a time in the masjid, based on a design submitted by conservation architect Benny Kuriakose. They include measures to pump out water, if needed, since the basement space will be over one metre below the groundwater level,” Mr. Noushad said.

Another ₹10 crore worth Central tourism funds are expected under the National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) project, using which landscaping, lighting, and a facilitation centre will be readied, apart from rejuvenating a pond in the vicinity.

Dr. Mohammed Sayeed, president of the masjid managing committee, said the conservation and renovation of the historic structure would go a long way in regaining its past glory. It will also enable hundreds of people to converge for prayers.

Holy Cross Church

On the ₹2.23-crore renovation work on Holy Cross Church, Mr. Noushad said its roof was reinforced using teakwood, while the wall made of mud and lime was strengthened. It was apart from knocking down a concrete structure that had been added later and rebuilding its facade.

A tablet that dates back to the 16th century and the location of the oldest printing press in Kerala nearby add to its heritage value. A total of 30 monuments on the North Paravur-Kodungalloor stretch are being conserved under the Muziris Heritage Project.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 7:22:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/iconic-cheraman-masjid-indias-oldest-gets-a-makeover/article36503591.ece

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