Safa Masjid in Ponda is a portal to a another time…
Goa is well known for its churches that are a reminder of Portuguese India, however, it’s not unknown to history enthusiasts that once upon a time this state was ruled by Indian rulers too.
During one such reign, that of Ibrahim Adilshah of Bijapur, the landscape of this sultanate was adorned by quite twenty-four mosques. One among the last remains of this bygone era is the Safa Masjid, and it’s tagged as Goa’s oldest mosque.
The Safa Shahouri was constructed in the year 1560 by Ibrahim Adilshah of Bijapur. There are some historians who believe that it was not Ibrahim but rather Sultan Ali Adilshah I who built the Safa Masjid of Ponda in 1560 since the reign of Sultan Ali Adilshah I was from 1557-1580.
Whereas, from 1489-90, Goa was under the control of the Adilshahi rulers of the Bijapur Kingdom.
Yusuf Adil Khan was the Turkish founding father of this kingdom who ruled from 1489-1510. It was in 1510 that the Portuguese ‘governador’ Afonso de Albuquerque conquered Goa (Tiswadi) from the successor of Yusuf Adil Shah, that’s his son Ismail Adil Shah who ruled from 1510-1534. In the 16th century, the Portuguese conquered the Tiswadi,
Bardez and therefore the Salcete only from the Adilshahi rulers but Ponda and other parts of Goa continued to be under the Adilshahi dynasty. Ismail Adil Shah was succeeded by his son Ibrahim Adilshahi I, who ruled from 1534-1557. Built in 1560 by Ibrahim Adil Shah, the Sultan of Bijapur, the Safa mosque survived the havoc wreaked by the Portuguese colonizers as a part of the Inquisition process. During the reign of the Bijapur Sultan, the region witnessed a rapid increase in the number of mosques and Ponda alone is a home to 27 of them including the Safa Masjid.
It has withstood the ravages of our time attracting an outsized number of Muslim devotees, historians, tourists both domestic and foreign, and has been noted as a important heritage monument of Goa and India.
This mosque continues to be a crucial structure for the local muslim community and may be a venue of celebration during festivals of Id-Ul-Fitr and Id-Ul-Zuha.
The Safa Masjid of Ponda may be a very pertinent representative of medieval Goa’s history and culture. The minimalist Masjid may be a fusion of Indo-Islamic style. Also referred to as the Shifa Shahourie Masjid, the Safa masjid presents a chic spectacle with typical Islamic arches decorating the walls.
Literally, the Arabic word ‘Safa’ means clean, chaste and pure and therefore the title befits this beautiful structure which is barren of any mindless extravagance and grandeur. The mosque was located at the middle of a sprawling garden complex and fountains, destroyed during the Portuguese rule.
Only remnants of the garden are often witnessed today. The rectangular prayer hall of the mosque rests above a high base and is capped with a pointed terracotta roof . The massive cistern within the mosque premises is another attraction. Featuring small chambers decorated with ‘meharab’ designs, the tank is found to the south of the prayer hall unlike most mosques where it’s located outside the most entrance.
Largely untouched by the commercialization of the tourism industry, this place makes for a placid retreat, especially if you’re a nature lover. The magnetic allure of this monument can easily find a neighborhood in your heart and your camera. So confirm you are doing not miss out on this one-of-a-kind tourist spot, whenever during this locale!