"This beautiful building is in itself a school of design": Lockwood Kipling (historian, expert on British India and Rudyard's father)

During Shah Jahan’s reign, architecture flourished across the Mughal Empire.
His famous masterpieces include the Taj Mahal and the tomb of his wife Mumtaz. The Peacock Throne in Delhi, widely considered as the most luxurious and intricately embellished throne in the world, was also designed and built during his rule. A host of other structures were commissioned and overseen by the Emperor, including Emperor Jehangir’s tomb outside Lahore and the famous Shah Jahan mosque in Thatta.
Another architectural masterpiece of Shah Jahan's era, the Wazir Khan Mosque, is located deep within the old quarter of the ancient Walled City of Lahore. 
It was built by the Governor (or Wazir) of the Punjab, Hakim Shaikh Ilm-ud-din Ansari. The construction of the mosque commenced in 1634. A short walk away from the Lahore Fort, the mosque acquired political importance as it became the official destination for the Emperor's Friday congregational prayers.

It is set on what has come to be known as the Royal Trail, a 1.6 kilometer stretch from Delhi Gate - one of the 13 gates of the walled city of Lahore - that faced the seat of the Mughal empire. Mughal Emperors rode through this gate to the Lahore Fort.

Wazir Khan Mosque has borne witness to at least a dozen Mughal rulers, the transformative period of the British Raj, the bloody Partition of the Indian subcontinent, and the short but eventful history of modern day Pakistan. The mosque was so located in the center of the city that all the major routes and bazaars linked to it at right angles.

Constructed over a period of seven years, it was built around an ancient subterranean tomb of the saint Syed Mohammad Ishaq Gazrooni, also known as Miran Badshah, who migrated from Iran in the 13th Century and lived in Lahore during the time of the Turkish-Muslim Tughlaq dynasty.

Tomb of Syed Mohammed Ishaq Gazrooni

The Wazir Khan mosque is rectangular, measuring 86.17 x 50.44m (282.7 x 165.4 feet), with the four imposing minarets (minars) defining the corners of the main courtyard.

Entrance to the Prayer Chamber

Entrance to the Prayer Chamber

To this day the mosque is a haven of tranquility in the center of the bustling Walled City, flanked by the markets, homes, and tiny businesses stacked up alongside the narrow cobbled pathways of the inner city.

Stepping into the enormous sunlit courtyard, stretching 160' x 130', visitors come across the splendid piece of architecture. The courtyard is like an oasis of beauty, elegance and calm.

The mosque’s walls are almost completely suffused with detailed embellishment of kashi kari (tile mosaic), fresco painting, stone and chuna (lime plaster) decoration, and taza kari (brick outline fresco) on both the exterior and interior surfaces.

An important feature of the entrance area of the mosque is a Calligrapher’s Bazaar which crosses the axis of the entrance at a right angle, and is marked at this crossing with a large verandah (dewhri) with a dome atop.

The Calligraphers Bazaar

Frescoes and Quranic calligraphy on the dome

Well-known khattats (master calligraphers) rendered verses from the Holy Quran and Persian poetry in elegant Nastaliq, Naskh scripts and Tughra forms within intricate geometric and floral outlines and forms.

Frescoes and Quranic calligraphy on the dome

The courtyard is flanked on the northern and southern side with 28 hujras (cubicles) and two pavilions facing each other across its width.

The prayer chamber, courtyard, hujras, vestibule and bazaar constitute the main elements of the structure.

Walled City of Lahore Authority
Credits: Story

Curator: Shuaib Latif, Walled City of Lahore Authority

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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