Packed elbow-to-elbow on weekends, the iconic Angullia Mosque in Little India often overflows with worshippers. On special occasions such as Hari Raya Haji and Hari Raya Puasa, there are so many that it has to admit them by batches.
It sees four batches of 1,500 each on festival days.
To address the space crunch, its management and trustees plan to rebuild the two-storey mosque to double its capacity.
The new building will have an entire level for female worshippers, a central kitchen, wedding facilities, an auditorium, classrooms and a heritage gallery.
Construction at the 9,500 sq ft freehold site at 265 Serangoon Road is expected to start by the end of next year. The project is budgeted to cost between $6.5 million and $7 million.
The mosque, which is located close to Farrer Park MRT station and Mustafa Centre, has been a centre for religious and social activity for locals and foreign workers for decades.
Mr Ayoob Angullia, chairman of the mosque's management board, told The Straits Times that improving the infrastructure will prepare it for the future. The mosque is in an area brimming with activities and tourists, he noted. The area has become busier with the opening of Connexion, an integrated healthcare and hospitality complex.
He said: "The mosque has become too crowded and there's an urgent need for more space. We're doing this to cater to the community for the next 30 years. It isn't comfortable at the moment."
The mosque is known for its conserved brick and plaster gatehouse. It also features a shaded arcade and a terrace with eight freestanding columns topped by pot-shaped finials.
The mosque can trace its roots to the 1890s when it was built by trader and property investor Mohammed Salleh Eusoof (MSE) Angullia, a Gujarati Sunni Muslim from Rander, north of Mumbai - Mr Ayoob's great-great granduncle. Its original gatehouse was conserved by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) last year. The existing mosque was rebuilt in the 1970s and does not fall under the gazette.
Mr Ayoob said a courtyard will be built between the gatehouse and the new building.
The Straits Times understands that as the planned works will not affect the gatehouse, the mosque will not have to apply to the URA's conservation department for permission for its building project.
Mr Ayoob said the new building will feature elements of Indian Muslim architecture and pay tribute to the old gatehouse by incorporating arches in its design.
He added that he envisions the upgraded mosque as a spot for "soul searching" on the busy stretch. "We are designing it to have high ceilings to give worshippers a spacious environment to meditate," he said.
To kick-start the effort, Mr Ayoob has taken a $4 million loan from the $50 million MSE Angullia Wakaff endowment fund. The mosque has raised $400,000 in donations since fund-raising started last year.
Mr Hamdi Pahie, 67, a clerk in a law firm who has been worshipping at Angullia Mosque for a decade, said he looks forward to the refurbishment. "It's usually a tight squeeze and there are people's shoes everywhere most of the time. It's time it got an upgrade," he said.
This article was first published on November 14, 2015.
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