Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mosque Hunt - Meeran Jumma Masjid, Galle

Another major city situated on the southwestern tip of Sri Lanka is Galle. Pronounced as “Gaul” it is located about 119 km from Colombo. It lies in Galle District and has a great variance of scenarios - from beaches to marsh lands to dry planes to hills.

The plan was to actually take a train down to Galle. Unfortunately, the train did not depart till later in the day. That didn't leave us with much choice but to travel to Galle on a local public bus. Took us ages to reach there as the bus stopped at practically all stops along the way (and it was a non air cond bus!!). I can't really recall when was the last time I rode on a bus back home, let alone the “bas lompat-lompat”.

But the ticket was dirt cheap – RM3.00 for that hundred over km ride. 

Ada on board entertainment and if you get hungry, no worries as you could grab a bit of kacang goreng from sellers who came on board at one station and left at the next one.

In the 16th century, the Portugese were the first Europeans to arrive in Galle. It was the main port on the island then. However, it wasn't till the Dutch came that Galle reached the height of its development.

The sea came into view along the journey from Colombo to Galle

Galle town - statue in the back was built to mark height of the tsunami waters when Gale was hit in 2004. The town was entirely wiped out.

One of the main attractions in Galle is the Galle Fort. Overlooking the Bay of Galle, this historical monument was first built in 1588 by the Portuguese. It was then extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century from 1649 onwards. It is now an archaeological and architectural heritage monument.

Galle Fort and the calm sea at that time of our visit. According to our guide however, this was where the tsunami waters came from the sea and went right inland.

The Dutch brought labourers from Indonesia and Mozambique to build this massive fort. Upon its completion there was already a mixed community that lived within the fort. The significant population of Muslim neighborhoods gave rise to building of the magnificent Meeran Jumma Masjid.

Meeran Jumma Masjid is an important landmark to the large Muslim community who live within the Fort.

To the beholder, the mosque can in fact pass off for a church. Yet, it holds distinctive features to the Muslim culture, which is shown palpably through the intricate designs of the crescent and the star shapes.
The entrance of this architecturally beautiful building, which rises majestically with its unrivaled white splendor, amidst the background of the fort.

Prayer hall

Ablution area

The area is also called the Old Arab Quarters. 

The Meeran Jumma Masjid is over three hundred years old.

There was also a lighthouse close to the mosque. The old lighthouse is at a height of 92 feet above low-water. It was built in 1848, however was burnt down in 1936.

A new lighthouse now stood in place.

View of the mosque from the lighthouse. A local man approached Abe with some old antique Dutch coins. Being a coin collector himself, Abe managed to get some really peculiar looking coins.  

View of the sea - all so calm......

but one just couldn't help imagine how it was that day when the tsunami hit......

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