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Badshahi Mosque

Coordinates: 31°35′17″N 74°18′34″E / 31.58806°N 74.30944°E / 31.58806; 74.30944
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Badshahi Mosque
بادشاہی مسیت
بادشاہی مسجد
Year consecrated1670
LocationLahore, Punjab, Pakistan
Badshahi Mosque is located in Lahore
Badshahi Mosque
Shown within Lahore
Badshahi Mosque is located in Punjab, Pakistan
Badshahi Mosque
Badshahi Mosque (Punjab, Pakistan)
Badshahi Mosque is located in Pakistan
Badshahi Mosque
Badshahi Mosque (Pakistan)
Geographic coordinates31°35′17″N 74°18′34″E / 31.58806°N 74.30944°E / 31.58806; 74.30944
TypeCongregational mosque
StyleIndo-Islamic, Mughal
FounderAurangzeb Alamgir
Minaret(s)8 (4 major, 4 minor)
Minaret height226 ft 4.5 in (68.999 m)
MaterialsRed sandstone, marble

The Badshahi Mosque (Punjabi: بادشاہی مسیت, romanized: Bādshā'ī Masīt; Urdu: بادشاہی مسجد, romanizedBādshāhī Masjid) is a Mughal-era imperial mosque located in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan.[1][2] It was constructed between 1671 and 1673 during the rule of Aurangzeb, opposite of the Lahore Fort on the northern outskirts of the historic Walled City. It is widely considered to be one of the most iconic landmarks of the Punjab.[3]

The Badshahi Mosque was built between 1671 and 1673 by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. The mosque is an important example of Mughal architecture, with an exterior that is decorated with carved red sandstone with marble inlay. It remains the largest mosque of the Mughal-era, and is the third-largest mosque in Pakistan.[4] In 1799, during the rule of Ranjit Singh of the Sikh Empire, the mosque's courtyard was used as a stable and its hujras (cells) as soldiers quarters. When the British Empire took control of Lahore in 1846 it was used as a garrison until 1852. Subsequently, the Badshahi Mosque Authority was established to oversee its restoration as a place of worship. It is now one of Pakistan's most iconic sights.[1]



The sixth Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb, chose Lahore as the site for his new mosque. Aurangzeb, unlike the previous emperors, was not a major patron of art and architecture and instead focused, during much of his reign, on various military conquests which added to the Mughal realm.[5] The mosque was built to commemorate Aurangzeb's military campaigns in southern India, in particular against the Maratha Emperor Shivaji.[4] As a symbol of the mosque's importance, it was built directly across from the Lahore Fort and its Alamgiri Gate, which was concurrently built by Aurangzeb during construction of the mosque.[6]

The mosque was commissioned in 1671, with construction overseen by the Emperor's foster brother, and Governor of Lahore, Muzaffar Hussein - also known by the name Fidai Khan Koka.[7] After only two years of construction, the mosque was opened in 1673.[6]

Sikh era

Badshahi Mosque fell into disrepair during Sikh rule; the Samadhi of Ranjit Singh (white edifice on right) was built next to the mosque.

On 7 July 1799, the Sikh army of Ranjit Singh took control of Lahore.[8] After the capture of the city, Maharaja Ranjit Singh used its vast courtyard as a stable for his army horses, and its 80 Hujras (small study rooms surrounding the courtyard) as quarters for his soldiers and as magazines for military stores.[9] In 1818, he built a marble edifice in the Hazuri Bagh facing the mosque, known as the Hazuri Bagh Baradari,[10] which he used as his official royal court of audience.[11] Marble slabs for the baradari may have been plundered by the Sikhs from other monuments in Lahore.[12] In 1839, after his death, construction of a samadhi in his memory was begun by his son and successor, Kharak Singh, at a site adjacent to the mosque.

During the First Anglo-Sikh War in 1841, Ranjit Singh's son, Sher Singh, used the mosque's large minarets for placement of zamburahs or light guns which were used to bombard the supporters of Chand Kaur, who had taken refuge in the besieged Lahore Fort. In one of these bombardments, the fort's Diwan-e-Aam (Hall of Public Audience) was destroyed, but was subsequently rebuilt in the British era. During this time, Henri de La Rouche, a French cavalry officer employed in the army of Sher Singh,[13] also used a tunnel connecting the Badshahi mosque to the Lahore fort to temporarily store gunpowder.[14]

British Rule


In 1849, the British seized control of Lahore from the Sikh Empire. During the British Raj, the mosque and the adjoining fort continued to be used as a military garrison. The 80 cells built into the walls surrounding its vast courtyard were demolished by the British after the Indian Rebellion of 1857, so as to prevent them from being used for anti-British activities. The cells were replaced by open arcades known as dalans.[15]

Because of increasing Muslim resentment against the use of the mosque as a military garrison, by the help of Khan Bahadur Nawab Barkat Ali Khan the British set up the Badshahi Mosque Authority in 1852 to oversee the restoration and to re-establish it as a place of religious worship. From then onwards, piecemeal repairs were carried out under the supervision of the Badshahi Mosque Authority. The building was officially handed back to the Muslim community by John Lawrence, who was the Viceroy of India.[16] The building was then re-established as a mosque.

In April 1919, after the Amritsar Massacre, a mixed Sikh, Hindu and Muslim crowd of an estimated 25,000-35,000 gathered in the mosque's courtyard in protest. A speech by Gandhi was read at the event by Khalifa Shuja-ud-Din, who would later become Speaker of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab.[17][18]

Extensive repairs commenced from 1939 onwards, when Sikandar Hayat Khan began raising funds for this purpose.[19] Renovation was supervised by the architect Nawab Alam Yar Jung Bahadur.[1] As Khan was largely credited for extensive restorations to the mosque, he was buried adjacent to the mosque in the Hazuri Bagh.


The mosque is very busy during the Islamic festivals of Eid and Ramadan.

Restoration works begun in 1939 continued after the Independence of Pakistan, and were completed in 1960 at a total cost of 4.8 million Rupees.[1]

On the occasion of the 2nd Islamic Summit held at Lahore on 22 February 1974, thirty-nine heads of Muslim states offered their Friday prayers in the Badshahi Mosque, including, among others, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan, Faisal of Saudi Arabia, Muammar Gaddafi, Yasser Arafat, and Sabah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah of Kuwait. In 1993, the Badshahi Mosque was included in a tentative list as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[20] 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 was initiated, using red sandstone imported from the original Mughal source near Jaipur, in the Indian state of Rajasthan.[21][22]


Top row: the domes. Bottom row: the elaborate internal decoration.

As a gateway to the west, and Persia in particular, Lahore had a strong regional style which was heavily influenced by Persian architectural styles. Earlier mosques, such as the Wazir Khan Mosque, were adorned in intricate kashi kari, or Kashan style tile work,[4] from which the Badshahi Mosque would depart. Aurangzeb chose an architectural plan similar to that of Shah Jahan's choice for the Jama Masjid in Delhi, though he built the Badshahi mosque on a much larger scale.[citation needed] Both mosques feature red sandstone with white marble inlay, which is a departure from typical mosque design in Lahore, in which decoration is done by means of intricate tile work.[23]

Entryway of the complex


Entrance to the mosque complex is via a two-storey edifice built of red sandstone which is beautifully and elaborately decorated with framed and carved paneling on each of its facades.[20] The edifice features a muqarna, an architectural feature from the Middle East that was first introduced into Mughal architecture with construction of the nearby and ornate Wazir Khan Mosque.

Various views of the mosque's monumental entrance arches, built on the orders of Akbar out of red sandstone

The mosque's full name "Masjid Abul Zafar Muhy-ud-Din Mohammad Alamgir Badshah Ghazi" is written in inlaid marble above the vaulted entrance.[24] The mosque's gateway faces east towards the Alamgiri Gate of the Lahore Fort, which was also commissioned by Aurangzeb. The massive entrance and mosque are situated on a plinth, which is ascended by a flight of 22 steps at the mosque's main gate which.[25] The gateway itself contains several chambers which are not accessible to the public.



After passing through the massive gate, an expansive sandstone paved courtyard spreads over an area of 276,000 square feet, and which can accommodate 100,000 worshipers when functioning as an Idgah.[25] The courtyard is enclosed by single-aisled arcades.

Prayer hall

Main Prayer hall of Badshahi Mosque during night

The main edifice at the site was also built from red sandstone, and is decorated with white marble inlay.[20] The prayer chamber has a central arched niche with five niches flanking it which are about one third the size of the central niche. The mosque has three marble domes, the largest of which is located in the centre of the mosque, and which is flanked by two smaller domes.[24]

Both the interior and exterior of the mosque are decorated with elaborate white marble carved with a floral design common to Mughal art. The carvings at Badshahi mosque are considered to be uniquely fine and unsurpassed works of Mughal architecture.[20] The chambers on each side of the main chamber contains rooms which were used for religious instruction. The mosque can accommodate 10,000 worshippers in the prayer hall.[26]



At each of the four corners of the mosque, there are octagonal, three-storey minarets made of red sandstone that are 196 ft (60 m) tall, with an outer circumference of 67 feet and the inner circumference is eight and half feet. Each minaret is topped by a marble canopy. The main building of the mosque also features an additional four smaller minarets at each corner of the building.[20]


Various views of the Badshahi mosque. Clockwise from top: the mosque standing across the Hazuri Bagh from Lahore Fort; an internal view of the mosque; an evening silhouette; the tomb of Allama Iqbal, located north of the mosque's gateway; a panoramic view of the mosque; and a view of the mosque from the Alamgiri Gate.

The mosque is located adjacent to the Walled City of Lahore, Pakistan. The entrance to the mosque lies on the western side of the rectangular Hazuri Bagh, and faces the famous Alamgiri Gate of the Lahore Fort, which is located on the eastern side of the Hazuri Bagh. The mosque is also located next to the Roshnai Gate, one of the original thirteen gates of Lahore, which is located to the southern side of the Hazuri Bagh.[27]

Badshahi Mosque as seen from Lahore Fort

Near the entrance of the mosque lies the Tomb of Muhammad Iqbal, a poet widely revered in Pakistan as the founder of the Pakistan Movement which led to the creation of Pakistan as a homeland for the Muslims of British India.[26] Also located near the mosque's entrance is the tomb of Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan, who is credited for playing a major role in preservation and restoration of the mosque.[28]


  1. ^ a b c d "Badshahi Mosque (built 1672–74)". Asian Historical Architecture website. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  2. ^ Haroon Khalid (26 August 2016). "Lahore's iconic mosque stood witness to two historic moments where tolerance gave way to brutality". Scroll.in website. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  3. ^ "Holiday tourism: Hundreds throng Lahore Fort, Badshahi Masjid". The Express Tribune (newspaper). 9 October 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Meri, Joseph (31 October 2005). Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. p. 91. ISBN 9780415966917.
  5. ^ "Badshahi Mosque, Lahore (architectural details of the structure given)". Architecture Courses website. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  6. ^ a b "Badshahi Mosque". Visit Lahore website. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  7. ^ Meri, p.91
  8. ^ "Welcome to the Sikh Encyclopedia". Thesikhencyclopedia.com. 14 April 2012. Archived from the original on 30 December 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  9. ^ Chida-Razvi, Mehreen (20 September 2020). The Friday Mosque in the City: Liminality, Ritual, and Politics. Intellect Books. pp. 91–94. ISBN 978-1-78938-304-1. In addition to the masjid's use as a site for military storage, stables for the cavalry horses, and barracks for soldiers, parts of it were also used as storage for powder magazines
  10. ^ Tikekar, p. 74
  11. ^ Khullar, K. K. (1980). Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Hem Publishers. p. 7.
  12. ^ Marshall, Sir John Hubert (1906). Archaeological Survey of India. Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing.
  13. ^ "De La Roche, Henri Francois Stanislaus". allaboutsikhs.com. Archived from the original on 27 December 2010. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  14. ^ Grey, C. (1993). European Adventures of Northern India. Asian Educational Services. p. 343. ISBN 978-81-206-0853-5.
  15. ^ Development of mosque Architecture in Pakistan by Ahmad Nabi Khan, p.114
  16. ^ Amin, Agha Humayun. "Political and Military Situation from 1839 to 1857". Defence Journal website. Archived from the original on 10 September 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  17. ^ Lloyd, Nick (30 September 2011). The Amritsar Massacre: The Untold Story of One Fateful Day. I.B.Tauris.
  18. ^ Note: Reports on the Punjab Disturbances April 1919 gives a figure of 25,000
  19. ^ 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
  20. ^ a b c d e UNESCO World Heritage Centre. "Badshahi Mosque, Lahore – UNESCO World Heritage Centre". UNESCO.org website. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  21. ^ "Badshahi Mosque Re-flooring". Archpresspk.com. Archived from the original on 1 April 2012. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  22. ^ "Badshahi Mosque". Atlas Obscura website. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  23. ^ "Badshahi Masjid, Lahore, Pakistan". ArchNet website. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  24. ^ a b Meri, p.92
  25. ^ a b Tikekar, p.73
  26. ^ a b Waheed Ud Din, p.15
  27. ^ Waheed ud Din, p.14
  28. ^ IH Malik Sikandar Hayat Khan: A Biography Islamabad: NIHCR, 1984. p 127



Further reading

  • Chugtai, M.A., Badshahi Mosque, Lahore: Lahore, 1972.
  • Gascoigne, Bamber, The Great Mughals, New York: Harper & Row, 1971.
  • Koch, Ebba, Mughal Architecture, Munich: Prestel-Verlag, 1992.

See also