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Badshahi Mosque, Lahore, Pakistan

Lahore, Pakistan Masterpiece of Mughal Architecture
Islam

Mughal dynasty has a significant place in history of undivided India. With many other influences they were also responsible for introducing a unique and different style of architecture with Arabic and Egyptian influences known as Mughal style of architecture. While in India the Taj Mahal, Red Fort and Jama Masjid are witness to the form of architecture, one such witness to the grandeur of Mughal style of architecture is the Badshahi Mosque at Lahore, Pakistan.

The Badshahi mosque is the second largest mosque after the Faisal mosque in Islamabad in Pakistan. When used as Idgah (place for recital of Namaz prayers), it can easily accommodate 55,000 to 60,000 people in it. The mosque holds a special position as it bears the privilege of recital by Qari Basit (1927-88), world famous Egyptian Quaranic recitor. The architecture of Jama Masjid at New Delhi in India closely resembles this Mosque.

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Overview

History and Belief

It is believed that the mosque was commissioned as a celebration for military campaigns against Maratha king Shivaji Bhonsle by Emperor Aurangzeb in 1671. The construction of the mosque was supervised by Emperor’s foster brother Muzzaffer Hussain and was completed in two years in 1673.

During regime of the Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the mosque was used as garrison. His army used to park his horses in the courtyard and it’s Hujras (small study rooms) as quarters.

The mosque did not see any respite during British rule too. They used the Mosque and the Lahore Fort as the military garrison.  Post freedom struggle of 1857, they demolished the wall surrounding the courtyard.

The first respite in the history of this mosque came in 1852 when the British formed the Badshahi Mosque Authority.  John Laird Mair Lawrence who was viceroy of India from 1811-1879 handed over the mosque to the Muslim community and re-established its’ status as place of worship.

Subsequently Sikandar Hayat Khan took interest in restoration of the mosque and raised funds for the repair work. His efforts were recognized and he was buried near mosque at Hazuri Bagh. After Pakistan was formed as an independent state, funds were infused and the mosque was restored to its original glory.

 


Architecture

As a bold and grandiose monument, the Badshahi mosque is a reflection of its founder Emperor Aurangzeb. The whole mosque is built on a raised plinth that elevates it above the city level and Lahore fort that lies adjacent to it.

Unlike all other mosques in Lahore, this mosque is more based on the Indo-Mughal style of architecture and departs from Persian style of architecture which is reflected in the style used for the construction of the monument.  While the external framework of the mosque is built using Red sandstone, the internal structure of the mosque is built with white marble. 

The two-story edifice entrance of the Mosque can be approached vide twenty-two steps. Like the external framework, the entrance is made up of red sandstone and is adorned with intricate Muqarnas (a form of ornamented vaulting in Islamic architecture).

Many rooms in the entrance are not open to the public and are believed to contain the hairs of Prophet Mohamed and his sons.

The courtyard of the mosque is one of its prime attractions that also establish its status as a landmark in Lahore. This vast courtyard extends to 276,000 square feet and is one of the main reasons why the mosque has always been misused.  Many changes were made to the courtyard along with the mosque when repairs were carried out during 1939 to 1960. The original Kiln burnt bricks were replaced with the red sandstone flooring. Earlier, the prayer hall was built with country bricks and marble with Sang-i-Akbari lining, subsequently, the country bricks were replaced with Marble tiles. When used as Idgah (place for having prayers or Namaz) it can accommodate 100,000 people.[V1] 

 

The mosque has three marble domes. The interior of the mosque is elaborately adorned with floral designs that are common in Mughal architecture at that time.

The prayer hall of the mosque is mesmerizing and a feast to eyes. It is divided into seven compartments by exquisitely decorated arches which are considered as unparalleled examples of Mughal architecture. Out of the seven domes, three domes are made of marble and constructed with outstanding design and architecture.

The mosque is flanked with 60 meters tall three-storey minarets on four sides and   which just were constructed using red sandstone.

 

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3 interesting Facts & Myths about Badshahi Mosque, Lahore, Pakistan

  • ·It is believed that the marble used for the construction of Hazuri Bagh Baradari may have been plundered from Badshahi mosque along with other monuments in Lahore.

  • ·Due to its vast prayer compound, the mosque has been subject to consistent misuse as military garrison;

  • ·This mosque bears the privilege of holding prayers for Thirty-nine heads of Muslim states. During the 2nd Islamic Summit held at Lahore on 22 February 1974, among others, Zulfiqar Ali   Bhutto of Pakistan, Faisal of Saudi Arabia, Muammar Gaddafi, Yasser Arafat, and Sabah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah of Kuwait offered their prayers led by Mawlānā Abdul Qadir Azad, the then   khatib of the mosque.

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Travel

How to travel

How to travel:

The best time to visit the mosque is from October to March as the weather is pleasant during that period.

Lahore is one of the major cities of Pakistan and capital of north-eastern Punjab province. It is well connected to all the major cities in the world.

The Allama Iqbal International Airport is located near to the main city and can be accessed by taxis or Autorikshaws. From here Badshahi mosque is 28.4 kilometers and can be approached vide Lahore ring road (L20).

The main railway station is situated near the city center and is connected to all major cities in Pakistan. From India, Samjhauta express runs weekly twice between Amritsar and Pakistan.

Local transit services are available for the stations Shahdara Bagh, Badami Bagh, Moghalpura, Baghbanpura, Harbanspura, Jallo, and Wagah.

Lahore is connected to Peshawar, Faisalabad and Islamabad through GT road and another motorway. Of these thought the motorway is longer but is better to travel than the GT road as it has less traffic and is regulated effectively than the GT road.

One can also prefer to travel by modern bus services Daewoo, Skyways and Niazi express that run luxury buses to Lahore.

VISITING DAYS/HOURS

The mosque is open from Monday to Friday 6:30 AM to 8:30 AM

Travel Tips

  • It is preferable to avoid minivans when in Lahore as the drivers are very rash in their driving;
  • Taxis are not freely available in Lahore and for local commute one has to choose auto-rickshaws;
  • At airport, it is preferable to book one’s own cab than to prefer local touts who approach at the arrival

See Badshahi Mosque, Lahore, Pakistan on map

Nearby Attraction

  • The Lahore Fort:

The Lahore fort is situated at the northern end of Lahore’s walled city.  This monument is on UNESCO World heritage list. The Sikh and the Mughal legacy coexist in the Lahore fort. The Badshahi mosque lies adjacent to Alamgiri gate of this fort. This is centuries old fort which was hugely renovated by the Mughals in the 17th century;

  • Tomb of Sikh ruler, Ranjit Singh;

For a brief time, Lahore was under the control of Sikhs. This monument is a witness to that period. Non-Pakistani citizens have to roll out Rs 200 to visit this monument;

  • Minar-e-Pakistan:

This monument was built to commemorate the creation of separation state for Muslims in 1940 and is also known as the Eiffel tower of Pakistan. It lies adjacent to Lahore fort and the Badshahi mosque;

  • Wazir Khan Mosque:

This mosque was commissioned in 17th century by Emperor Shah Jahan. This is one of elaborately decorated mosques that was built during the Mughal era. It is elaborately decorated with Kashi Kari work (faience tile work) which are feast to eyes for connoisseurs of Mughal architecture;

  • Wazir Khan Hammam/Shahi Hammam:

This is magnificent Persian style bath was built during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan.

This bath was built by chief physician to the Mughal Court, Ilam-ud-din Ansari also known as Wazir Khan and acted as Waqf (endowment)for the Wazir Khan Mosque;

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