The Edition


Heritage Minister Yumna begins efforts to restore historic mosque

Mariyam Malsa
20 November 2018, MVT 12:53
Newly-appointed Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage Yumna Maumoon. PHOTO: MIHAARU
Mariyam Malsa
20 November 2018, MVT 12:53

Newly-appointed Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage Yumna Maumoon on Sunday began efforts to restore ‘Kalhu Vakaru Miskiyy’, a historic mosque that was dismantled in 2016 to make way for a recreational park.

Yumna asserted her intention to reassemble Kalhukuraa Vakaru Miskiy by posting a tweet informing the public that the disassembled pieces were safely stored in the National Museum of Maldives.

Translation of Tweet: Dismantled parts of Kalhu Vakaru Miskiyy are currently housed at the National Museum. Before we reassemble the parts, we must restore the reclaimed wood and stone carvings.

She also stated that the coral stone carvings required additional repair work before the 200-year-old mosque can be restored to its former glory.

Four months after her resignation in 2016 from the post of Deputy Education Minister and Head of the Department of Heritage, Yumna affirmed that she left in protest of the (former) government's plans to remove the mosque, and transport it to another island.

Kalhu Vakaru Miskiy was cleared as part of government plans to revamp the original location of the mosque to include Maldives' first ever Winter-themed park.

Although initial plans were to reassemble the mosque in Thinadhoo, Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll, these plans laid in limbo over a two year period within which the public was not provided with any information.

The decision to take the mosque apart was harshly criticized by the public with a member of Male City Council going as far as filing a lawsuit, claiming the development violated international pacts to preserve heritage sites. Despite the efforts, the judiciary did not issue any orders against the government, and the Winter Park was developed as planned.

Kalhu Vakaru Miskiyy was located in a corner of the demolished grounds of a 16th century Royal Palace. The grounds had been developed into the historic "Sultan Park" in 1968 after the Maldives ended its sultanate.

An old photograph of Kalhu Vakaru Miskiyy, as it stood in all its former glory. PHOTO: MIHAARU

A stunning structure made from hirigaa (coral stone) and kalhu vakaru (ebony tree), the Kalhu Vakaru Miskiyy was constructed in the 18th century by Sultan Hassan Noorudheen I.

It was first located near the National Stadium, until it was auctioned off to a resort owner during the regime of Maldives' second president, Ibrahim Nasir. The auction's winner had had the mosque shifted safely to his resort.

Kalhu Vakaru Miskiyy was returned to the government after former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom came to power, who gave it its home inside Sultan Park.