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