History of Spanish Mosque
Spanish Mosque was constructed by Nawab Sir Iqbal Ud Daula in 1906, after his return from Spain, as he was very much inspired by the Cathedral-Mosque of Caordoba, which is situated in Spain. It is believed that Iqbal ud Dowla, on a foreign tour of Europe, came across certain monuments that entranced him, or that he had carried photographs of sites that he wished to re-invent in his homeland. It is apparent that the elements are starkly different in comparison to other mosques in Hyderabad. The exterior and interior of the Spanish Mosque is mostly similar to the Cathedral-Mosque of Caordoba in Spain and JamaMasjid of Gulbarga, Karnataka. It shows state-of-the-art interiors and architecture. Believed to be a copy of a similar mosque in Spain, it might have caught the attention of the Paigah noble, either during his eight-month-long tour of Europe or he may have stumbled on a photograph. Whatever the source, the Nawab lived up to his reputation of being a great builder having a penchant for creating something unique, as seen from his magnificent hilltop Falaknuma Palace. Spain, once part of the Umayyad dynasty, is inundated with mosques. The Umayyad Caliphate influence can be seen in many of its buildings especially the religious ones.
Architecture of Spanish Mosque
Spanish Mosque is also known as the Mosque of the Moors, due to its unique Hispanic (Moorish) style of architecture and is said to be one-of-its-kind in India. The stand-out feature is the spires instead of the usual minarets or domes; they give this mosque a church-like appearance. Built in the year 1906, the architecture of the mosque is Moorish to be precise that has its origins in North Africa and the characteristic is its horseshoe arches. There are typical domes and minarets that are conspicuously missing in this mosque. Spirals have interesting play of golden and light yellow colour with Jaalidar or latticed panels in between. Inside the Spanish Mosque there is a main hall, which is surrounded on three sides with rooms that are now used for storage or other functional utilities. The hall of the Spanish Mosque carries a very European feel with its arches and pillars. The calligraphy on the walls of Spanish Mosque is in Turkish instead of the usual Arabic. The pedestal for the priest looks like it belongs to a church more than a mosque and so does a simple bookshelf. The carpet is typically Islamic and the only give away.
Structure of Spanish Mosque
Spanish Mosque is built with stone masonry in lime mortar up to the basement and the superstructure in brick masonry in lime mortar. The roof of the Spanish Mosque is jack arch type on iron girders with brick and lime concrete. The domes, minarets and small turrets are built with brick and stone masonry and the outer face plastered with lime mortar. The central dome of Spanish Mosque has a perforated screen. The overhead dome is octagonal and the shape is repeated in the columns. The boundary walls of the courtyard insulate the faithful from the noise and bustle from outside.
The mosque is also known by the local Muslim community as Masjid Iqbal Ud Daula, Masjid Aiwan-e-Begumpet. It can accommodate 3000 worshippers at once. The Spanish Mosque is very well known and is considered as a landmark mosque for the Secunderabad Muslim community. .
Significance of Spanish Mosque
On the huge 340 acres property belonging to the Paigah noble family stands the Spanish Mosque and other exquisite buildings belonging to the nobility. Many of these buildings have been now taken by Government agencies. The Paigah Nawab, Nawabs Iqbal Ud Daula is considered a great visionary and builder and has a proclivity to build exclusive and remarkable buildings is evident from another building that he has built; his magnificent Falaknuma Palace built atop a hill. Other palaces belonging to the Paigah noble family with influences of European architecture are Iqbal-Ud-Daula palace, Nazir Nawaz Jung’s Devdi, Vikhar Manzil and the building which is now the US Embassy. The Paigah family is ranked next to the ruling family of Nizams. Of them Nawab Vikar-ul-Umra is best known for building some of the most elaborate palaces, state homes and mosques of Hyderabad--the Falaknuma Palace, the Paigah Palace in Begumpet, the Spanish Mosque and the Asafia Library in Afzalgunj are all products of his many sojourns in Europe.
How to Reach Spanish Mosque
People usually take an auto from Begumpet station to reach Prakasham Nagar (where this church is located). People coming through bus can get down at the Secunderabad bus stop as it is a convenient link to begumpet area.
Spanish Mosque formed part of the sprawling 340-acre wooded estate of the Paigah nobles studded with seven palaces, all built in European and Indo-European styles. Some of them are the Paigah Palace or the Iqbal-ud-Dowla palace that has now become the Hyderabad Urban Development Authority's office, the Devdi Nazir Nawaz Jung, part of which has been leased to Chiraan Fort Club and the Vikhar Manzil, overlooking the Hussain Sagar Lake and USA embassy. The Spanish Mosque is a declared heritage site by Archaeological Survey of India and is under discussion for the consideration of UNESCO Asia Pacific Merit.