This red brick building is truly the principal landmark of Lahore City. Its design is based more on conventions than the drawing of lines here and there by some sketch maker. A building of strong and resolute character, this unique piece of monumental architecture was created in 1673 A.D under the orders of Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir, by his foster brother Fidai khan.
The construction of mosque took two years from 1671 to 1673. The mosque was built right opposite to the great Lahore Fort, which imparted a unique stature to the mosque in heydays of the Mughal Empire.
LAHORE’S BADSHAHI MOSQUE: MOSQUE OF THE VICTORIOUS
by Srosh Anwar
“The Mosque of the Victorious. The Valiant. Emperor Muhy-ud-din Muhammad Arangzeb Alamgir. Constructed and Completed Under the Superintendence of the Humblest Servant of His Royal household, Fidai Khan, in 1804 A.H.”
(Translation of the Persiantext inscribed on the marble slab at the entrance of the greatest and grandest example of Mughal architecture, the Grand Badshahi Mosque of Lahore).
This red brick building is truly the principal landmark of Lahore City. Its design is based more on conventions than the drawing of lines here and there by some sketch maker. A building of strong and resolute character, this unique piece of monumental architecture was created in 1673 A.D under the orders of Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir, by his foster brother Fidai khan. The construction of mosque took two years from 1671 to 1673. The mosque was built right opposite to the great Lahore Fort, which imparted a unique stature to the mosque in heydays of the Mughal Empire.
After its construction got completed, the grand structure saw many ups and downs, which at times also caused to ruin its architectural beauty. Having seen all the vicissitudes, the days of tumult and turmoil, the mosque has been much more than a place of worship. Because of its nearness to Lahore Fort, it was used as a sanctuary for a great number of wars, faced trespassing and deterioration during many political upheavals in the post Mughal era as well as during the raj.
The first half of nineteenth century saw it having been severely damaged due to a series of unfortunate events. A big jolt of earthquake shook it from its roots and caused an immense amount of damage. In addition to this natural disaster, the mosque has seen many man made disasters as well. In 1840’s the grand mosque witnessed its ruthless occupation by the Sikh army.
During the reign of the Sikh ruler, Raja Ranjit Singh the mosque was used as a magazine for military stores. During and after a series of successive wars won by Sikh rulers, the mosque had a miserable condition under the Sikhs. Under the same Sikh rule there was a point when light cannons were carried on the top of its minarets and used for bombarding the fort. This resulted in destruction of many parts of the fort, including the Diwan-e-Aam. Throughout the Sikh annexation of this mosque, Muslims were not even allowed to enter the mosque.
The mosque remained in possession of the Sikh army till occupation of Punjab by the British. Though the British also used it as a military warehouse, yet some basic repairs of urgent need were carried out during their regime. In days of the earlier British Raj,its arcades and hujras were used as residential quarters of the British soldiers and Muslims were allowed to pray in a small part of the mosque. To pay the cost of the repairs, British chose to sell the red sand stone and some other precious stones and gems from the mosque. On strong protestation by the residents of Lahore city, the British announced a stoppage of this illegal selling of materials used in the mosque.
The mosquewas ultimately handed over to Muslims in 1856 but in a terribly shattered condition. Extensive repairs were carried out to consolidate the structure and to rebuild the decayed or missing portions. This restoration lent some of its past glory to the mosque; however, it also changed some of its original features.
Almost all the stone used in the construction of mosque was replaced by the new one. The original stone was imported by Dara Shikoh (Aurangzeb’s brother) from Jaypur. Dara Shikoh was a great follower of Hazrat Mian Meer and wanted to build a durbar for him from this stone. But unfortunately before he could fulfill his dream, he was killed during a war, by his own brother Aurangzeb. Later, Aurangzeb utilised this very stone for construction of the Badshahi Mosque. The amazing quality of this stone is that it remains cool even in hottest of weather. If you move towards right arcade from the pond, there are few red sand stones which are said to be the original one and even today, they remain cool during the simmering heat of Punjab.
The entrance of the mosqueis approached by flight of 22 steps. The gateway opens on to vast courtyard of the mosque which is lined with hujras and courts (Aiwans) except the western part where the main prayer chamber is located. The interior of the prayer chamber is decorated with floral patterns in relief on lime-plastered surface, and tastefully done fresco paintings in bright colours.
Besides the grandeurand architecture of the mosque, there are few other things inside the mosque which shouldn’t be missed out. It contains a rare piece of Holy Quran written in pure gold. It was gifted to the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar by a calligrapher who lived inside one of the gates. He was rewarded in return with equal amount of gold and since then, this piece of holy Quran with ayats written in gold has been kept inside the mosque.
Acouple of decades ago, a museum opened in the mosque. It contains various relics of the holy prophet Hazrat Muhammad P.B.U.H, Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Fatima (RA). These relics of great significance are gifts from governments of various Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and some others.
Badshahi Mosqueis the last and the most refined piece of Mughal architecture and a cultural and religious symbol of the City of Lahore. Today, this mosque is also a famous tourist spot and maybe the most preserved building of the Mughal era.
Badshahi Mosque,one of the grandest mosques of the world, the mosque of the royalty and of common man, is not just a praying place; it is also a great emblem of the architectural excellence of the glorious Mughal rulers of the subcontinent.
YOUR COMMENT IS IMPORTANT
DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR COMMENT