Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Baiturrahman wa Baiturrahim - Banda Aceh, Sumatera, Indonesia

Baiturahman Mosque entrance from rear
Baiturahman at night
Baiturahman is the biggest mosque in Banda Aceh and amazingly, this mosque built in 1612 and some claimed 1292 has survived through several calamities including the massive 2004 tsunami with only minor damages. During the Dutch invasion in 1873, the original mosque was razed to the ground and in 1877 the East Indies Governor General extended an olive branch when he offered to rebuild the grand mosque.  Designed by an Italian architect in the North Indian Moghul style, the mosque was finally completed in 1883 and not surprisingly, many Acehnese hesitated to pray at Baiturahman - most likely to show retaliation towards their conqueror. 

Today, this mosque is a dominant landmark in Banda Aceh and in 2004, when the town was struck by the tsunami, many locals took refuge in the mosque.  This mosque has survived from several quakes and even after the tsunami, it suffered very mild damage.  Almost every nights of our stay in Banda Aceh, we were here, assimilating ourselves with the locals and some did realize that we're not one of them. In Ramadhan, every night, they have talks delivered by the local scholars and most of the time the 2004 tsunami is reflected in their sermons and the people are reminded of a bigger calamity is yet to come. When I glanced through the crowd around me, I once again imagined...these people must be in their teens and twenties in 2004.

In Ramadhan, the mosque is filled with the locals 

Terawih in the women's hall
There are many pillars in the mosque
Everybody dispersed after the prayer
Taking a rest after terawih prayer
The beautiful exterior of the mosque is clearly visible even at night
This picture is taken from Medan Hotel, Aceh

Completely refurbished 

Baiturrahim is an old mosque of  Ulee Lheue in the settlements of coastal Aceh which were largely destroyed by the mega earthquake which unleashed the 2004 tsunami. A port town, Ulee Lheue was completely swept away by the tsunami and only a portion of the Baiturrahim Mosque was spared. Due to its close location to the sea, this mosque was seriously damaged during the tsunami.  Today, the mosque is completely renovated and like Baiturrahman, this mosque has its historical importance among the locals. The Dutch burned the mosque in 1873 and since then the mosque has undergone several rehabilitation phases to accommodate the increasing members of its community.  

In 1981, this mosque received aids from the Saudi government to enlarge its capacity; from a mosque which could hold prayers for 500 people, it was renovated to accommodate more than 1,000 people. But two years after its completion, earthquake struck Banda Aceh and the mosque's structure survived with severe damages to its roof.  Floods, earthquakes and the unprecedented tsunami has battered this mosque but still today it stands tall to serve the community of Ulee Lheue. We spent some times observing the mosque's interior and exterior and wondered what's next for Baiturrahim!
The interior of the mosque
The white wash exterior gives the mosque a fresh look after the tsunami

Visitors from other parts of Indonesia taking a break


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