The King of all mosques in Lahore the Badshahi Mosque ruled over the throne of being the world’s largest mosque for over 313 years in history. The grandeur of the mosque can be adjudged by the fact that for the first 70 years after its construction in 1673, the mosque was simply known for its exceptional and extraordinary size which was visible from almost ten miles away! No doubt that the mosque was so significant back in the day and still is! Even today this historical and holy artefact speaks for itself as it stands with great splendour and magnificence.
History of Badshahi Mosque
The construction of the mosque was started in 1671 under the prosperous and blooming dominion of the sixth Mughal Emperor Muhi-ud-Din Muhammad commonly known by the name of Aurangzeb. The Badshahi Mosque took only two years to be completed under the supervision of Fida’i Khan Koka who was Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb’s brother-in-law and the governor of Lahore. The mosque is heavily influenced by Persian architectural style and Aurangzeb specifically followed the style of Shah Jehan’s Jama Masjid in Delhi. The common trait of both mosques is the red sandstone with white marble inlay. The entrance of the mosque further exudes its nobility and elegance.
The Badshahi Mosque full name "Masjid Abul Zafar Muhy-ud-Din Mohammad Alamgir Badshah Ghazi" is written in inlaid marble above the vaulted entrance. The glorious gate itself is very interesting as it contains several chambers that are not accessible by the general public, interestingly enough one of the rooms is said to contain the hairs of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and that of his son-in-law Ali. This is also considered to be one of the reasons for its construction.
As you pass through the entrance you set foot in an expansive sandstone paved courtyard spreading over an area of 276,000 square feet which can accommodate up to 100,000 worshippers. The prayer chamber has a focal angled niche with five niches flanking it which is around 33% the size of the focal niche. The mosque has three marble vaults, the biggest of which is situated in the middle point of the mosque, and which is flanked by two smaller arches.
The Badshahi Mosque is a display of the great taste and boldness of the emperor at that time, both the interior and exterior are very uniquely crafted. The rich embellishment in stucco tracery (Manbatkari) and panelling with a fresco touch enhance the interior of the mosque and stone carvings along with marble inlay on red sandstone, especially of loti form motifs in bold relief, beautifies the exterior. Four octagonal three-storey minarets of 196 feet are found at the four corners of the mosque that are topped by a marble canopy.
When illuminated in the evening the Badshahi Mosque offers a view that you can never miss! Especially now when this can be experienced while enjoying some quality food in the new food street offering a picturesque and stunning view of the mosque. As Pakistan became the top tourist destination of 2020 according to the Conde Nast traveller the country’s only attraction isn’t its astonishing mountain ranges but the historical city of Lahore promises to provide a world-class experience into the Mughal era, it precisely said:
In Lahore, the sight of 100,000 worshippers crammed into the sandstone 17th-century Badshahi Mosque will leave you breathless, while Mughal-era architectural masterpieces stand resplendent on bustling street corners.
Diving into the history of the Badshahi Mosque a little more the real question that needs to be answered is why it was constructed. Some historical accounts have told us that the mosque was built in 1671 to commemorate the military campaigns of Aurangzeb against the Maratha King Chhatrapati Shivaji. Many have also been known to say that the purpose was to protect the hair of the Last Prophet (PBUH). Another unbeknown fact about the Masjid is that it was the reason that the river Ravi’s bed changed. The mosque is constructed just a few meters away from the Lahore Fort.
As the river was flowing nearby it was constructed at an elevated platform to protect it from any kind of flooding. Historical reports have said that Emperor Aurangzeb ordered some barriers to be put in the river in order to keep the water away from the mosque and prevent it from the damage the intricate interior and exterior of the mosque. So over the course of time, the river changed its path.
When you visit the Badshahi Mosque you will get to see more than just an area of prayer the place is filled with spots and nowadays a lot of bride and grooms too as many people follow the religious practice of having their Nikkah (the contract of marriage in Islam) in the Masjid. The Hazuri Bagh and the mosque will provide an experience that is unforgettable!
The Alamgiri Gate of Lahore Fort, Hazuri Bagh Baradar, Samadhi of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and Mughal era original Roshnai Gate, Tomb of Allama Iqbal, British era Roshnai Gate and tomb of Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan are all enclosed in the same area as Badshahi Mosque, guaranteeing an experience like no other.
The Samadhi of Maharaja Ranjit Singh is an example of the religious harmony that exists in this city full of culture and history. Visiting this one place can provide an exceptional tour down the memory lane like no other, where you will see peace, harmony and art, love and wonderful architecture all combined in one area.