Wazir khan mosque- An Architectural jewel
In the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, architecture flourished across the sub-continent, especially in Lahore. The whole old city Lahore (androon shehar) was surrounded by a nine-meter high brick wall. There were thirteen gates for the entrance to the walled city. These gates hold a number of historical buildings inside them which includes mosques, hammams, temples, tombs, fort and Havelis. The glorious Wazir Khan Mosque situated inside the Delhi gate. Mughals usually used this gate to reach the Lahore Fort.
I think there is no need if introduction to this mosque. Everybody must have seen or heard about this mesmerizing piece of historical architect or if you have not been here yet. Let me take you to its tour verbally.
The Masjid Wazir Khan stands between the hustling and famous bazaar of Rang Mahal, the noise of traffic and wanders. You can see its high minars from a quite long distance. You have to walk throughout the bazar to reach this fascinating mosque. Parking is difficult here. So, viewing this piece of art is not an easy task to do especially for mobility-impaired people.
While visiting this mosque, have you ever thought why this mosque called Wazir Khan? Who was he? Why this mosque named after him? So first of all, let’s solve the mystery behind its name.
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The Mughal emperor Jahangir’s beloved wife Noor Jahan got ill. She was suffering from an incurable disease. So, he made an announcement of a valuable gift for the person who will cure his wife because he has failed to find any physician who can cure this disease. Finally, he heard about Hakim who lived in Chiniot. Jahangir called him to Lahore. His name was Hakim Sheikh Ilm-ud-din Ansari. He came to the Jahangir’s Empire and dig out the cause of the pain in her feet. He said it’s a cyst and asked the emperor to not interfere during his treatment no matter how much painful it is and then Hakim asked the queen to walk barefooted on the hot sand. The cyst got raptured due to burning sand and the Noor Jahan got recovered.
Jahangir celebrated the good health of her wife in Lahore and awarded the Hakim with a post in his Royal court and Noor Jahan herself rewarded him with her own jewellery.
Hakim remained the royal physician even after Mughal emperor Shah Jahan ascended the throne. Shah Jahan bestowed the Hakim Ansari with the title of “Nawab Wazir Khan”. He laid the foundation of the mosque in AD 1634 that is why the mosque named after him.
Before Badshahi Mosque, Wazir Khan Mosque was considered as Imperial Jamia Masjid where kings used to offer their Jummah Prayer. The mixture of Persian and Indian architect made this mosque distinguished among the all mosques of the sub-continent. After Badshahi Mosque, the most spacious mosque is Masjid Wazir Khan.
Its view is so soothing. The mosque is rectangular with the four minars at each of its four corners which makes it distinguished among all. . As you walk inside from the main entrance, you will find that the main mosque is built from deep red Tazakari (brickwork). The Wazir Khan Mosque is one of the finest examples of Kashi Kari (mosaic tilework) and vibrant Naqqashi (frescos). Calligraphy of verses from the Holy Quran and Persian poetry embellish on the walls gives a very traditional impact. Floral patterns have designed in symmetrical waves which brings a sense of tranquillity to the mosque’s halls. The mosque consists of 5 compartments; each part has its own dome which opens onto a large courtyard.
This type of architectural design was attempted for the first time in Lahore. Later on, other mosques were built by using the same method. Inside the minars we found some stairs to reach at the top to have a view of the city. But access to those stairs is usually not allowed.
The most beautiful thing is you get to perform ablution from a pond which gives a very traditional look.
There is also a small shrine of a Sufi saint Syed Muhammad Ishaq in the left corner of the Masjid’s courtyard. He was also known as Hazrat Meran Shah. He belongs to Iran and was shifted to Lahore during the reign of Tughlaq Dynasty in 13th century. This tomb was built before the construction of this Mosque. This masjid was built around this shrine later.
During the British Raj these historic places were used for offices, schools and government institutions.
This masjid and all other historic places are the legacy of Mughals which they have left for us.
Now it is our duty to preserve this heritage in our best way. But sadly due to no renovation, leakage of the sewage system, sun exposure and earthquakes the mosaic on the walls is fading away, the walls are getting damage, having cracked and the Minarets are leaning outward.
The government should have a lot some funds towards the renovations of historic places. If they cannot then we should do this as our own. Hers is one simple solution.
On daily basis, we usually spent a lot of money on buying expensive food. In my opinion, if we place a ticket at the entrance of the mosque of only 50 or 100 PKR and collect this money only for the purpose of renovation. It will help a lot.
About Author: Arshya Zahid is freelance columnist based in Lahore. She is graduate of Mass Communication and holds interest in lifestyle, culture, arts and history. She can be reached at Twitter: @Arshiayzahid