The 'vanishing' of a historical Maldives mosque!
Regarded as a historical landmark Kalhuvakaru Mosque was one of the oldest of such sacred such premises in the capital; and a place of interest of pro-heritage bodies of Maldives.
Back in August 2016 the wood-works of the mosque was stripped down in an attempt to renovate the entire land area of the former Sultan Park which has since been impressively transformed into Rasrani Bageecha.
The current government promised the exact replica of the mosque - due to its historic value - will be erected at Gaaf Dhaal atoll Thinadhoo. Since then more than a year has elapsed since the state's promise but it appears that no one has any clue of the mosque's development let alone its whereabouts.
Kalhuvakaru Mosque would have been assembled at the southern atoll as state had planned but no one can explain or corroborate on the reasons why the plan did not fall into place accordingly.
One of the oldest mosques in Maldives; Kalhuvakaru Mosque has a long history of getting shifted from its originating island to the capital. However this time around the ones responsible for stripping down the mosque with promises of re-enacting the site at a different island as fallen more silent than lambs.
The mosque's beauty is a true testament of hard labor and impressive craftsmanship skills of yesteryear Maldivians; nearly 200 years old or more Kalhuvakaru Mosque had stood the chapters of history and saw empires rise and fall.
The historical mosque is iconic for the beautiful carvings on the limestone pillars and intricately cut out designs on its walls.
While the government had promised to shift this historical landmark to the southern atoll, it is surprising that no one at any relevant authority was able to provide a substantial answer regarding the mosque's current states; whether it is still in existence or not. This is downright preposterous.
The mosque became an overnight sensation and made headlines when the incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's administration set out plans to redecorate the worn-out Sultan Park site. Even back then the plans for the historic mosque were vague and inconsistent.
Initially the government claimed the mosque would be moved to Farukolhufushi which was being developed as the 'Hulhumale' Heritage Island.' However housing ministry had later decided to move the mosque to Thinadhoo and place it at the spot of the island's old Friday mosque.
Housing ministry had assured the mosque would be transported while preserving its originality; and placed in special 'packaging.' Prior to Kalhuvakaru Mosque's much hyped shift to Thinadhoo, the island's old Friday Mosque was torn down and the plot was cleared to 'install' the historical mosque.
But no developments have been made to the plot and has been neglected since then.
Housing ministry had played coy in revealing details about the mosque and carefully avoided any discussions regarding it. Any attempt made to receive a comment from the ministry ended without a definite response, but with surmounting excuses.
"We do not have any recent updates regarding the mosque's whereabouts or the progress of the said project to move it to Thinadhoo. The former council had received partial information regarding the government's initial plan for the mosque. We have nothing after that," Ali Amjad, council member of Thinadhoo spoke with Avas Online.
According to an official of Heritage Department they are certain about Kalhuvakaru Mosque getting its new resting place at Thinadhoo, but they too were unable to ensure when the exact date of transitioning would take place. The department was unable to comment on the current whereabouts of the mosque's framework since it has not been under their supervision.
"Details of the mosque's whereabouts can be disclosed only by Housing Ministry," the official noted.
While no relevant authority has come forth with any crucial updates regarding the mosque's current whereabouts, former head of the Heritage Department Ali Waheed expressed concern over the sudden 'vanishing' of a historic venue.
Waheed also highlighted on the cultural destruction imposed by authorities when such historical sites are moved without preserving its condition properly; or even destroying it completely.
"We currently have a very limited number of such historical landmarks or heritage of our cultural that showcases the works and skills of our ancestors. We need to show respect to these places and such items and regard them with the highest consideration. In all honesty, shifting such landscapes from one place to another would contribute to the country's culture and its history thrown into massive confusion. We need to prioritize the preservation of our culture and heritage more significantly than what we are doing now," Waheed explained.
The mosque had stayed in its spot for 36 years since its transition to the Maldives capital in 1980; which was shifted to Male' under former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's administration.
It is the only mosque built in Maldives that carried a reassembly structure. Though no one can tell the exact location or the mosque's current condition it is inarguable that the locals are eager to witness its reassembly once again.
This is the first time in recent history when such a culturally and historically significant landmark had 'vanished into thin air.' Sadly no one is willing to key in with a hopeful update regarding the mosque's whereabouts or what the future holds for the historical site.