On the way back to the hotel from a wonderful trip to the Sahakari Spice Plantation in Ponda, my colleague casually pointed towards the Safa Masjid. A rather unknown-unheard of structure, the Safa Masjid stood lone and proud among plentiful greenery, accompanied by a masonry tank with turquoise waters. How could I have not got off to check the place? I told my colleague, I’ll be back in five minutes and returned after forty five minutes!
From the pages of history
Around 27 mosques were built during the Adil Shah dynasty in 16th century Goa. While most of these mosques were destroyed during the Portuguese Inquisition between 1560 and 1812, the Safa Masjid remained unharmed and stood tall to tell its tale.
Sultan Adil Shah of Bijapur was one of the oldest rulers of India. He is also credited with building the Reis Magos Fort in 1497 overlooking the Mandovi River in the Bardez province of Goa.
Safa Masjid, also called the Safa Shahouri Masjid is one of the oldest mosques in Goa. It was built by Ibrahim Adil Shah in 1560. Safa is Arabic for ‘Pure’ and the mosque quite rightly justifies the term. The single chambered mosque has a modest prayer room and a terracotta roof. Overall structural framework is quite similar to an olden style Portuguese home, seen in Goa till date. The star attraction of Safa Masjid is the huge laterite stone masonry tank with turquoise waters located within the mosque complex. The 30 x 30m water tank is said to have over 40 hammams, built in Mihrab style of architecture.
A National Monument
A surprise to visitors is a board at the entrance that classifies Safa Masjid as a national monument under the purview of the Archaeological Survey of India. Along with the commanding masonry water tank, the Safa Masjid has a sprawling charbagh-style garden and dense trees in its backyard, making for a very pleasing sight. Credit must be given to the local authorities for maintaining the Safa Masjid quite well.
Lesser known makes it charming
As a Goan, I’ll be honest that I had never heard of this structure until I unintentionally bumped into it. The Safa Masjid doesn’t seem like a popular structure among the locals, let alone tourists. Although, I am told that the Masjid is an eventful venue during the festive period of Eid.
On a bright sunny afternoon in the month of June, I found Safa Masjid quiet and empty, much to my delight. The absence of tourists meant no commercialization and there was no sight of commercial shops anywhere nearby. No tourist hubbub meant that I had Safa Masjid to myself, soaking in the view and enjoying the peace and calm the surrounding had to offer.
In a nutshell
I didn’t see Safa Masjid as a religious monument but a surviving structure and an important piece of Goa’s history. It is a welcome addition to the list of attractions to tick off for those on an unofficial Offbeat Goa trail. Do try to catch a glimpse of this one.
The Safa Masjid is in Shahpur on the National Highway NH4A connecting Panaji with Belgaum. It is on the outskirts of Ponda, 2km away.
Entry is free and Photography is allowed.
Travel Tip: There isn’t much to see around the area. It is best to combine your trip to Safa Masjid with sightseeing in Ponda that boasts of attractions like the Sahakari Spice Plantation, Shanta Durga temple and Mangueshi temple among others.
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