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June 23, 2019

Visitors mesmerised by beauty of centuries old wooden mosque in Upper Dir


June 23, 2019

DIR: The wooden structure of the centuries old mosque in Thall village still stands majestically in Upper Dir district.

It was badly damaged by the fire and was rebuilt in 1953.

Thall is the gateway to the scenic Kumrat tourist resort in Upper Dir. The picturesque village is frequented by thousands of visitors from down country throughout the long summer season.

Thall has a population of over 11,000 and is inhabited by the Kohistani tribe. It has a small but busy market located on the banks of a stream.

The market is always teeming with tourists. It becomes a hub of economic activities during the summer.

The visitors throng the Kumrat valley to see the natural beauty and enjoy the pleasant weather.

The mosque is located near the Thall market where a huge number of worshippers can be seen offering prayers.

The three-storey building is made of wood obtained from Deodar trees.

Deodar is a precious tree used for making doors, windows and furniture.

However, the forests in general and Deodar trees in particular are depleting due to unchecked cutting and smuggling.

The Deodar tree is species of Cedar Himalayas in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Azad and Jammu Kashmir, West Bengal, Tibet and parts of India and Nepal.

Deodar is an evergreen tree growing up to 50 meters with a trunk of around three meters in diameter at 1,500 to 3,200 metres (5,000 to 10,499 feet) altitude.

The name Deodar is derived from the Sanskrit word Devadar which means the God’s tree as the Hindus considered it sacred and used it in religious ceremonies.

The tree is also used for treating various diseases. It contains a decent amount of oil which is used as anti-fungal and holds insect repellent properties.

It catches fire instantly and is used as construction material due to its durability, hence its generous use in the old Thall mosque.

The government has allowed the local people to use it as firewood, to make furniture and for construction purposes.

Akhtar Gul, a resident of Thall, said that the centuries old mosque was constructed by their forefathers.

“We have heard from our forefathers how the mosque was built and the trees were transported from high mountains for construction of its building,” he recalled.

He said that nine locals and six carpenters were killed during transportation of the huge Deodar trees to make the structure of the mosque.

“The construction of the mosque was a challenge and craftsmen from nearby villages were hired to complete the gigantic task,” he added.

Akhtar Gul said that the pillars, sidewalls and rooftop of the mosque were made of wood from Deodar trees and not a single nail was used in the construction work.

He said that fireplaces were constructed in the mosque as the mercury dropped below the freezing point in winter.

“The area receives heavy snowfall in winter. The locals used to make fire to keep themselves warm,” he explained.

He recalled that a fire broke out at the mosque in 1952 and badly damaged it. “The plumes of smoke from the fire blackened the structure,” he said while pointing to the roof of the mosque. He said the Thall mosque was rebuilt in 1953 and can now accommodate over 1,000 worshippers at a time.

He said that work was in the final stage to construct the third floor of the mosque.

“We are trying our best to retain the original shape of the mosque,” he added.

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