When we think about the culturally rich city of Lahore also knows as the “Paris of East”, the name Wazir Khan Mosque always rings a bell in our mind. This pinnacle of architectural excellence is located in the walled city of Lahore on the southern side of Shahi Guzargah which was the traditional route taken by the royals of Mughal court to Lahore fort.
Wazir Khan Mosque was commissioned by the viceroy of Punjab Hakeem Ilam-ud-din Ansari who was a chief physician in the Mughal court, since giving great services to the prince during his early campaigns he became one of the most trusted companions and aide of the Emperor Shah Jahan. It was due to this trust and the services provided by Ilam-ud-din Ansari that he was granted the name of Wazir Khan and allotted substantial amounts of land and property near Delhi gate.
History of Wazir Khan Mosque
In 1634A.D the construction of the Wazir Khan mosque started under the emperor Shah Jahan to enclose the tomb of Miran Badshah, he was an acclaimed Sufi saint and his tomb now lies in the courtyard of the mosque. The mosque also features the first purpose-built four-axis Bazar in central Asia.
However, two of these axes are aligned to make the entry of the mosque whereas the other 2 make calligraphers bazaar. This famous Bazar consisted of the most talented and spectacular calligraphers of the time. The Bazar also consisted of other traders and merchants of the time and was also near the Shahi Hammam. The purpose of these markets and the hammam was to serve as a source of income or endowment for the mosque.
Wazir Khan Mosque took almost seven years to complete which are justified considering how magnificently it is built. The elaborate embellishments drawn from several different regions make it stand out among other structures specifically the intricate Kashi-Kari tile work which is present in other structures made during Shah Jehan reign but none of them compares to the one in wazir khan mosque.
The facades facing the inner side of the Wazir Khan Mosque is decorated with beautiful and intricately designed motifs and pallet. These decorations mostly represent the 17th-century Persian architecture which consisted mostly of lajvard (cobalt blue), firozi (cerulean), white, purple, orange, yellow and green colours. Perhaps one of the most beautiful features of the mosque is its Buon frescoes. These unique Mughal era highly detailed frescoes are a piece of work.
They feature details from Punjabi decorative styles and the square pavilion of the mosque under the dome features trees, platters of fruit and pitchers of wine which are a representation of the Islamic paradise. The arched niche at the entrance of the mosque featured alluring floral motifs and muqarnas which was Lahore first time since it was present only in the mosque of Iran and Alhambra in Spain at the time.
The entrance of Wazir Khan Mosque is in itself an experience because of the large Timurid style Iwan. Kamil khan Mumtaz who was a Lahore based architect and a pioneer in the movement to conserve architectural heritage states in his essay
‘This elaborate entrance is intended to symbolize the transition from this life to the next. The wide-open gate of God’s munificence. Indeed, as we climb the steps into the generous portico we find ourselves in a classic ‘Chahar Taq’, that is, the ancient Persian form of a domed chamber with four entrances, which was assimilated into Islamic architecture, with its symbolism of the earthly material aspect of life represented by the cube base, and the spiritual, heavenly or metaphysical aspect represented by the hemispherical dome above.
The transition from the square base to the hemispherical dome is necessarily an intriguing aspect of this form. Looking up we find the symbolism of the dome is emphasized by the frescoes around its base. These display ‘fruit of every kind on silver platters’ and ‘pitchers of wine’ and ‘trees in pairs’, an unmistakable reference to the Koranic paradise.’
The Wazir Khan Mosque e stands out as a paragon of beauty not just for its grandeur and its intricately designed floral motifs and frescoes but the balance it provides with it’s the amazing and eye-catching entrance along with calligraphy Bazar adds to the grandiosity of the mosque.
This oasis of architecture is one place in Lahore that no tourist should forget to visit. The architectural excellence of Wazir Khan Mosque is a delight for any person because of the amazing colours and buon frescoes. The beauty of the floral motifs and calligraphy on the entrance of the mosque is just majestic. It depicts the skill with which Mughal era architects and calligraphers worked. The beauty of this place is not just in the art but the overall experience of everything surrounding the Wazir Khan Mosque which provides it with a perfect balance and makes it a worthwhile place to visit.