Mosques

Safa Masjid

One of the only two sixteenth-century Islamic monuments which managed to survive the excesses of the Inquisition, the Safa Masjid lies 2 km west of the centre of the town of Ponda, in a district known as Shahpur. The elegant structure was built in 1560 by Ibrahim Adil Shah, the Sultan of Bijapur.

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 The mosque was the focus of attention in a fairly extensive complex of gardens and fountains which lies in ruins today. The rectangular prayer hall of the mosque rests above a high base and is capped with a pointed terracota tile roof.

There are elegant Islamic arches decorating the walls. Remnants of octagonal pillars can be seen all around the mosque, perhaps these supported a covered courtyard to provide shade to worshippers.

There is a is well-constructed water tank with small chambers with 'meharab' designs nearby which is located to the south of the prayer hall unlike most mosques where it is located outside the main entrance.

This has led to speculation that the tank may have been part of another religious structure which once stood there. Local legend also has it that there are hidden tunnels in the walls of the tank which connect it to a nearby water reservoir.

This mosque is a venue of celebration during festivals of Id-Ul-Fitr and Id-Ul-Zuha, by the local Muslim community. There are rickshaws available at the main Ponda bus stand which can take you to the site of the Safa Masjid.

 

Namazgah
This mosque is located in the Ponda area through the attractive countryside a further 2 or 3 km from the Safa Masjid.

This is one of the areas of great natural wealth laden ore-barges, seen chugging down river on their way to Vasco, are filled with ore from here. Viewed from the height from Bicholim is spread out below and in the distance are the sivalik mountains with the mines to the left, and behind.

A short distance to the right there is a small structure set on the crest of a bleak hillside. This is Namazgah mosque, an interesting diversion to see a tiny remnant of Muslim history this mosque was built by Prince Akbar, to commemorate a battle which he and the Marathas, led by Sambhaji, fought against the Portuguese in 1683.

It was an unlikely alliance which came about after Prince Akbar had rebelled against is father the Emperor. High above Bicholim on this bare hillside with extensive views to the east, the mosque is of most unusual design and interesting layout.