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Historic mosque to be relocated back to Sultan Park grounds

04 January 2019, MVT 09:31
Land plot where Dhiraag's Customer Service office formerly stood. PHOTO/MIHAARU
04 January 2019, MVT 09:31

Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage announced Thursday that the historic mosque ‘Kalhu Vakaru 'Miskiyy', will be relocated back to the grounds of 'Rasrani Bageecha', formerly known as Sultan Park.

According to the ministry, the mosque will be reassembled at the location inside the park grounds where local telecom firm Dhiraagu's office was formerly situated.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had pledged to reassemble the mosque, which was dismantled by the previous government, during his election campaign.

According to the ministry's statement, President Solih decided to relocate Kalhu Vakaru Miskiyy back to Rasrani Bageecha, after discussing with the Cabinet last week.

The statement also revealed that efforts to reassemble the mosque are now underway, under the ministry's supervision. The ministry is currently treating the wood, making repairs and preparing the blueprint of the allocated land plot to restore the ancient mosque.

The reconstruction Kalhu Vakaru Miskiyy is also open for volunteers.

Prior to its dismantling, 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.

A stunning structure made from hirigaa (coral stone) and kalhu vakaru (ebony tree), the Kalhu Vakaru Miskiyy was commissioned in the 18th century by Sultan Shamsudeen II and completed during the reign of 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.

The administration of former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom cleared the mosque in 2017, as part of government plans to revamp the original location of the mosque to include Maldives' first ever Winter-themed park, inside Sultan Park which has been rebranded as Rasrani Bageecha.

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 then government, and the Winter Park was developed as planned.

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