SINGAPORE - The 189-year-old Masjid Sultan in Kampong Glam is planning to light up its two golden domes in the evenings in an effort to make it a beacon for tourists.
"This will help the masjid stand out and support the Singapore Tourism Board's efforts to promote Kampong Glam as a destination," said the chairman of the mosque's board of trustees, Mr Mohamed Patail.
The idea will form part of a previously announced $4.37 million facelift to improve accessibility for the mosque's congregation and boost the local heritage area.
Tourists will be granted access to the rooftop of the mosque's four-storey annex via a new lift - providing a panoramic view of surrounding streets and shophouses.
An external glass lift to the mosque itself will improve access for elderly and disabled worshippers while maintaining an unobstructed view of the mosque from the street. About 5,000 worshippers visit the mosque for Friday prayers, while a similar number of tourists visit each month.
The project is due to be completed in December next year and includes plans to upgrade its 400-seat auditorium to enhance guests' audio-visual experience.
Featuring architecture inspired by the Indo-Saracenic style, the original Masjid Sultan was built in 1824 by Sultan Hussein Shah, the 19th-century ruler of Johor and Singapore. It was torn down to make way for the current mosque, which was completed in 1932.
The upgrading project is slated to start in August and finish in time for the mosque's 190th anniversary next year.
Staff and worshippers say it has been a long time coming. Cracks and mould have emerged and the electricity trips during thunderstorms.
"Over the years, we've patched things up but these have been short-term solutions," said mosque secretary Nasir Ibrahim, 72. "Our switchboard for instance, looks ancient. The renovation is timely... we want the place to be safe for worshippers."
Worshipper Abdul Rahman, 66, said: "It's an old building and it suffers from wear and tear, which is visible from the street."
The renovation includes rewiring the entire building, repainting its interior and exterior and constructing two new ablution areas.
The mosque will remain open to worshippers during renovations.
While some of the cost of the repair and restoration will be defrayed under the Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura's Mosque Upgrading Programme and the Preservation of Sites and Monuments' National Monuments Fund grant, the mosque still needs to raise about 80 per cent of the sum.
"We hope the Muslim community and Singaporeans will donate generously," said Mr Patail.
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