Badshahi Mosque

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Badshahi Mosque
Badshahi Masjid another view.JPG
Basic information
Location Iqbal Park, Lahore, Pakistan
Geographic coordinates 31°35′17.07″N 74°18′36.45″E / 31.5880750°N 74.3101250°E / 31.5880750; 74.3101250Coordinates: 31°35′17.07″N 74°18′36.45″E / 31.5880750°N 74.3101250°E / 31.5880750; 74.3101250
Affiliation Sunni Islam (Hanafite)
Province Punjab
District Lahore
Year consecrated 1671
Ecclesiastical or organizational status Mosque
Leadership Aurangzeb
Architectural description
Architectural type Mosque
Architectural style Indo-Islamic, Mughal
Completed 1673
Capacity 100,000
Dome(s) 3
Minaret(s) 8 (4 major, 4 minor)
Minaret height 176 ft 4 in (53.75 m)
Badshahi Mosque (Front)

The Badshahi Mosque (Urdu: بادشاہی مسجد‎, Imperial Mosque) in Lahore, commissioned by the sixth Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1671 and completed in 1673, is the second largest mosque in Pakistan and South Asia and the fifth largest mosque in the world. Epitomising the beauty, passion and grandeur of the Mughal era, it is Lahore's most famous landmark and a major tourist attraction.[1] It is located in Iqbal Park in Lahore, Pakistan.

In 1993, the Government of Pakistan recommended the inclusion of the Badshahi Mosque as a World Heritage Site in UNESCO's World Heritage List, where it has been included in Pakistan's Tentative List for possible nomination to the World Heritage List by UNESCO.[2]


Construction (1671–1673)[edit]

Night View of Badshahi Mosque

Construction of the Badshahi Mosque was ordered in May 1671 by the sixth Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb, who assumed the title Alamgir (meaning "Conqueror of the World"). Construction took about two years and was completed in April 1673.[2]

Mosque converted to a horse stable under Sikh rule (1799–1849)[edit]

Badshahi Mosque with damaged minarets during Sikh rule

On 7 July 1799, the Sikh army of the Sukerchakia chief, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, took control of Lahore.[3] After the capture of the city, the Badshahi Mosque was desecrated[4] by Maharaja Ranjit Singh and used its vast courtyard as a stable for his armies horses and its 80 hujras (small study rooms surrounding the courtyard) as quarters for his soldiers and as magazines for military stores. Maharaja Ranjit Singh used the Hazuri Bagh, the enclosed garden next to the Mosque as his official royal court of audience.[5]

In 1841, during the Sikh civil war, Maharaja Ranjit Singh's son, Maharaja Sher Singh, used the Mosque's large minarets for placement of zamburahs or light guns, which were placed atop the minarets to bombard the supporters of the Sikh Maharani Chand Kaur taking refuge in the besieged Lahore Fort, inflicting great damage to the Fort itself. In one of these bombardments, the Fort's Diwan-e-Aam (Hall of Public Audience) was destroyed (it was subsequently rebuilt by the British but never regained its original architectural splendour).[1] During this time, Henri De la Rouche, a French cavalry officer employed in the army of Maharaja Sher Singh,[6] used a tunnel connecting the Badshahi Mosque to the Lahore Fort to temporarily store gunpowder.[7]

Mosque used as garrison under British rule (1858–1947)[edit]

When the British East India company took control of Lahore in 1849, they continued the Sikh practice of using the Mosque and the adjoining Fort as a military garrison. The 80 cells (hujras) built into the walls surrounding the Mosque's vast courtyard on three sides were originally study rooms, which were used by the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh to house troops and military stores. The British demolished them so as to prevent them from being used for anti-British activities and rebuilt them to form open arcades or dalans, which continue to this day.[1]

Mosque's return to Muslims and restoration[edit]

Layout of the mosque

Sensing increasing Muslim resentment against the use of the Mosque as a military garrison, which was continuing since Sikh Rule, the British set up the Badshahi Mosque Authority in 1852 to oversee the restoration and return of the Mosque to Muslims as a place of religious worship. From 1852 onwards, piecemeal repairs were carried out under the supervision of the Badshahi Mosque Authority. Extensive repairs commenced from 1939 onwards, when the Punjab Premier Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan took on the task of raising funds for this purpose.[8]

It was not until 1852 that the British established the Badshahi Mosque Authority to oversee the restoration of the mosque so that it could be returned to Muslims as a place of worship. Although repairs were carried out, it was not until 1939 that extensive repairs began under the oversight of architect Nawab Zen Yar Jang Bahadur. The repairs continued until 1960 and were completed at a cost of 4.8 million rupees.[9]

Mosque under Pakistan (1947–present)[edit]

A view of Badshahi Mosque from the streets of Lahore.

On the occasion of the 2nd Islamic Summit held at Lahore on February 22, 1974, thirty-nine heads of Muslim states offered their Friday prayers in the Badshahi Mosque, including, among others, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Sabah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah of Kuwait. The prayers were led by Mawlānā Abdul Qadir Azad, the then Khatib of the Mosque.[10]

In 1993, the Government of Pakistan recommended the inclusion of the Badshahi Mosque as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where it has been included in Pakistan's Tentative List for possible nomination to the World Heritage List.[2]

In 2000, the marble inlay in the Main Prayer Hall was repaired. In 2008, replacement work on the red sandstone tiles on the Mosque's large courtyard commenced, using red sandstone especially imported from the original source near Jaipur, Rajasthan, India[11] and the Mosque is now almost restored to its original 17th century condition.[12]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Badshahi Mosque". Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  2. ^ a b c UNESCO World Heritage Centre. "Badshahi Mosque, Lahore - UNESCO World Heritage Centre". Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  3. ^ "Welcome to the Sikh Encyclopedia". 2012-04-14. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  4. ^ City of Sin and Splendor: Writings on Lahore - by Bapsi Sidhwa, p23
  5. ^ Khullar, K. K. (1980). Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Hem Publishers. p. 7. Retrieved 12 July 2010. 
  6. ^ "De La Roche, Henri Francois Stanislaus". Archived from the original on December 27, 2010. Retrieved January 10, 2014. 
  7. ^ Grey, C. (1993). European Adventures of Northern India. Asian Educational Services. pp. 343–. ISBN 978-81-206-0853-5. 
  8. ^ Omer Tarin, Sir Sikandar Hyat Khan and the Renovation of the Badshahi Mosque, Lahore: An Historical Survey, in Pakistan Historical Digest Vol 2, No 4, Lahore, 1995, pp. 21-29
  9. ^ "Badshahi Mosque (built 1672-74)". Retrieved 2013-05-16. 
  10. ^ "Report on Islamic Summit, 1974 Pakistan, Lahore, February 22–24, 1974", Islamabad: Department of Films and Publications, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Auqaf and Haj, Government of Pakistan, 1974 (p. 332)
  11. ^ "Badshahi Mosque Re-flooring". Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  12. ^ "Badshahi Mosque". Retrieved 2013-05-16. 

External links[edit]