People in Marwari Lines claim that Beech Wali Masjid was built 250 years ago, making it the oldest mosque in the city. It certainly is one of the most active mosques in the city. The streets in the Marwari Lines are one of the narrowest you will ever find in Karachi. The congested neighborhood and tightly knit community provide a sense of security which most of other neighborhoods in the city can only envy. Women chat freely on takhts outside in the street and the children including girls play badminton and other games out in the open while Beech wali masjid, in the heart of Marwari Line is a gathering point for men.
Marwaris are known as expert stonemasons. Beech Wali Masjid, though only a shadow of its former glory, is a testimony to their craftsmanship. The surviving stone facade has intricate designs around the main entrance and on the pillars. Sadly rest of the building has not survived and given way to more contemporary design involving concrete and tiles but still newly built mehrab follows yesteryear aesthetics. In one of the rooms, an elder shows me an old painting which has recreated the mosque in its former glory.
People gather around us and it makes them happy to know that we take keen interest in knowing about the mosque. The inundate us with history and the legends, which I fail to absorb. As I take phone out to document some of it, the muazen calls for prayers. We depart with a promise that we will come back soon to enjoy hospitality of Marwaris.