Mosques of Lahore
Masjid Wazir Khan:
The Wazir Khan Mosque was built in 1634-35 AD (1044-45 AH) by Hakim Shaikh Ilm-ud-Din Ansari, the Governor of the Punjab in the reign of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. It was built on the remains of an old sufi complex and the sufi grave sites associated with it.
The Wazir Khan Mosque sat astride the historic route that the Mughal nobility would traverse as they entered the city and made way to the royal residence in the Lahore Fort. The Mosque comprises a prayer chamber and a large courtyard. The large courtyard is surrounded on its northern, southern and eastern sides with 28 hujras and two Pavilions facing each other across the width of the courtyard. There are four Minars marking the four corners of the courtyard. An important feature of the entrance system of the Mosque is the Calligraphers bazaar that crosses the axis of entrance at a right angle.
The Mosque complex, in the form that it has survived, still has a singular outstanding attribute that places it in the frontline of the major monuments of the world- the exuberant architectural decorations that embellish its exterior and interior surfaces. In essence these are of two kinds- exterior surface decorations which are chiefly in the form of glazed ceramic tile murals; and interior decorations in the form of naqqashi wall painting- a semi –dry form of fresco.
The Walled City of Lahore Authority in partnership with Aga Khan Trust for Culture conserved the façade of the Mosque in 2018 with the funding from US Ambassador’s fund. This conservation was linked up with the restoration of the Chowk Wazir Khan.
The open square outside the magnificent and famous Mosque of Wazir Khan has been conserved with the technical assistance of Aga Khan Trust for Culture and US Ambassador’s fund. The encroachments inside the front Hujras of Wazir Khan Chowk were removed. Previously in 2012 the encroachments from the Mosque were also removed by the WCLA. This square is now used for social purposes and weekly Sufi and mystic nights for the public are organized there.
The Northern wall of the Wazir Khan Mosque is as unique as the other side. Unfortunately, the side was encroached upon by several shops which were removed in 2012. In 2015 the conservation of the Northern side of Wazir Khan began with the technical assistance of Aga Khan Trust for Culture and funding of the Royal Norwegian Embassy. The conservation included the excavation of the Hujras and revealing the original ground level of the Mosque. A retaining wall was constructed after the excavation and conservation of Hujras. These Hujras are to be set up as Crafts Bazaar.
The southern side houses of Chowk Wazir Khan and Masjid Wazir Khan have also been conserved by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the WCLA.
Sunehri (Golden) Mosque, Kashmiri Bazaar, Lahore
The mosque was built in 1753 by Nawab Syed Bhikari Khan (son of Raushanu’d Daula Rustam-i-Jung), Deputy Governor of Lahore during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah. Due to concerns by local officials regarding potential traffic problems that could arise from the construction of the new mosque, Bhikari Khan. The mosque came under the control of Akali Sikhs (Sikhs that have been initiated, also referred to as the Khalsa, or “Pure”).
The mosque is built on a raised platform measuring 102 ft. 6 in by 45 ft. Basement is composed of narrow and deep cells all around. The prayer chamber, measuring 40 ft. by 16 ft. 4 in., is divided into three compartments, each with side minarets crowned with blind pavilions. Each compartment is surmounted by a double dome, externally covered with gilded plates.
Constructed between 1671 and 1673, under the supervision of Fida’i Khan Koka, Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb’s brother-in-law and the governor of Lahore, Badshahi Mosque was originally planned as a place to guard a strand of the last Prophet’s (PBHU) hair. Badshahi Mosque’s splendor is influenced by the Jama Mosque of Delhi which was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. The Mosque was constructed just a few hundred meters to the west of Lahore Fort and the River Ravi was flowing nearby.
The construction of the mosque took about two years, from May 1671 to April 1673. The mosque was built opposite the Lahore Fort, illustrating its stature in the Mughal Empire. In conjunction with the building of the mosque, a new gate was built at the fort, named Alamgiri Gate after the Emperor. Besides being a Mosque, the Badshahi Mosque is a famous tourist spot for the people. It is one of the remains we treasure today. The history narrates that this Mosque remained the world’s largest Mosque for 313 years.
As you step in the historic Huzoori Bagh you will see huge three sided marble steps that lead to the magnificent gate of the Mosque. Entering the gate is the vast courtyard with a fountain in the center. The interior of the mosque has rich ornamentation in stucco tracery and paneling with fresco motifs and marble inlay. Within the courtyard, the prayer hall features four minarets that duplicate the four minarets at each corner of the Mosque’s outskirts. The entire architecture is a mark of symmetry. The main prayer hall is divided into seven parts by means of multi-foiled arches supported on heavy pillars, three of which bear the white marble double domes. The remaining four parts are covered with flat domes.
The original floor of the courtyard was laid with small kiln-burnt bricks laid in the Mussalah pattern (prayer rugs pattern). During the repairs in 1939-60 the present red sandstone flooring was re-laid. The original floor of the prayer chamber was also replaced by marble Mussalah during the same repairs. There are only two inscriptions in the mosque: one on the gateway and another of Kalmah in the prayer chamber under the main high vault. The ceilings are decorated and a so are the walls.
The exterior of the Mosque is decorated with strong stone carving and marble inlay on red sandstone. The exterior of the Mosque represents grandeur and stateliness of the Mosque. You will see lotus motifs in bold relief at different places inside the Mosque as well as on its exterior. The embellishment has Indo-Greek, Central Asian and Indian architectural influence both in technique and motifs. The skyline is furnished by beautiful ornamental merlons inlaid with marble lining adding grace to the perimeter of the mosque. Merlons are the solid upright section of a castle parapet. A small museum has also been added to the mosque complex, which contains relics of Muhammad, his cousin, and his daughter, Hazrat Fatima Zahra.
Inside the Lohari Gate, near chowk Bukhari, a little northward from the chowk is a small mosque, today called Masjid Kharasian, its original name was Masjid e Sadar Jahan. It was built in 1606, the second year of Jahangir’s reign. It is much repaired and renovated, but the original Katba, bearing a Persian inscription in red stone by the calligrapher Abdullah Al-hussaini, still adorns the staircase that lead to the mosque proper on the first floor.
Mariam Zamani Masjid:
Most of us are unaware of this Mosque which stands right opposite to the Akbari Gate of Lahore Fort but hidden among many shops. Known as Begum Shahi or Mariam Zamani Mosque is the earliest surviving Monument of the Mughal era and also known as the mother of all Mosques. The gate of the Walled City directly leading to this Mosque is the Masti Gate. The gate no longer exists but a directional sign on the circular road can take one there.
It was built in 1023 A.H. (1614 A.D) during the reign of Jahangir, by his mother, Mariam Zamani. The style of the building is transitional between the Pathan and the Moghal.
According to different architects this Mughal Mosque in Lahore is the first to have a five-bay facade that became and pattern for many mosques built by the Mughals in the subcontinent. The Mosque is finished with brick masonry and rendered with plaster. It is a relatively small structure than Wazir Khan and other Mosques of Mughal era. Originally, the mosque covered an area of 135ft by 127ft which has now been reduced because of some commercial and residential area built around it, encroachments are also a factor. In the centre of the Mosque’s courtyard is a water cistern for ablutions, now in much repaired form and has lost the original look. The courtyard was paved with brick tiles but it has now been completely re-laid in modern brick.
The prayer Chamber, which is 130’-6″ long 34’ deep, is divided into five compartments. A series of high, deep arched recesses set in all five compartments inside the prayer hall which elevates the sumptuousness of the Mosque. . The lower shell is almost purely of ‘guchh’ (stucco). Wooden uprights about 3”x 3″ in section standing between the upper and lower shells with their ends embedded in them are a unique feature. It appears that the builders used them as a means of strengthening and support. The central Mehrab arch is treated with geometric, floral, and inscriptional stucco ornaments. These geometrical designs are unique and rarely found in other buildings and monuments. Some parts of the fresco have been flaked away and some painted with white wash. Mostly the fresco is intact on the ceilings and heighted walls and corners. Regular washing of the premises without proper measures has damaged the fresco work. A proper structural study of the mosque must be carried out by the concerned authorities in order to list down the damages and water ingress which can surely harm the building.
The fresco designs include floral and mosaic art work with line patterns. The importance of Mosque also lies in the exceptional paintings which are an example of artistic work known as ‘Monnabat kari’. It is defined as art of decorating the surface of objects with small equilateral triangles painted or made of ivory, wood and brass twisted wire laid side by side that result in a geometrical pattern. The Mosque is adorned with several inscriptions, both Quranic and non-Quranic. This characteristic first met with here among the historic Mughal monuments of Lahore. The non-Quranic inscription is the name of the founder and the date of completion of the Mosque.
The masjid was used by Ranjit Singh as a gun and powder manufactory, and on that account came to be called the barut –Khana wali masjid. The establishment was under the superintendence of jawahar Mal Mistri. The mosque was restored to the mohamadans by Major Mcgregor, Dupty Commissioner of Lahore, in 1850, together with the shops and the houses attached to it.
The Walled City of Lahore Authority has conserved this mosque along with the fresco work in it.
Niween masjid, a mosque 25 feet below the street level is a wonder in itself. It is situated in chowk Matti, between the gates of Lohari and Shah Alam gate. The entrance of the Mosque is from the Lohari gate (one of the thirteen gates of the walled city of Lahore) going towards the Naya Bazaar inside Chowk Matti. It is small doorway that leads you to the twenty-six-stepped stair which takes you down to the ground level of the Mosque. This mosque was constructed in 1460 and it is said that it was constructed by a minister of Ibrahim Lodhi named Ameer Zulfiqar Khan. This mosque is one of the oldest mosques of the middle east.
Despite being twenty-five feet below the ground level, there has never been a complaint of sewerage or drainage of water system. Two wells or water tanks were constructed underneath the floor called “gharki” in local language. These are functional since the establishment of the Mosque for almost more than five hundred years now. The water used in the Mosque for ablution, toilets and even the rain water goes into those wells and is dispersed from there and the system is functional without any problem. this Mosque is one of its kinds in the world and no other similar example is so far found even in the sub-continent. It has an open courtyard on the western side of which lies the mosque prayer chamber. The Mosque is small in size but no doubt it is amazement.
The Mosque has a three low domed structure with as many openings on its face. Historic accounts by Dr. Abdullah Chughtai states that the Mosque was built on the foundations of an old temple and the structure and ground level was not changed. He established his argument by epitomizing different temples which were constructed below the ground level in ancient times. The other Mosques seen in Lahore like Wazir Khan, Golden Mosque, Saleh Kamboh Mosque or even the Badshahi Mosque are either on ground level or on a raised masonry.
As per historic accounts is claimed that there were two mosques of similar kind. Amongst the two Neevin (low-level) Mosques, the one situated inside Yakki (Zakki) Darwaza, has completely been erased from the face of the earth to give way to a modem structure of a mosque of late 20th century. However, this very Mosque still exists, whereas changes have been made in its original fabric. Unlike other Mosques, the Neevin Masjid underwent no change during the Sikh or British Rules.
Masjid Saleh Kamboh
Muhammad Saleh Kamboh was a well known storyteller and raconteur during Shah Jahan’s reign and the teacher of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. His Aml-e-Salih or Shah Jahan Nama is one of the most important original sources of Shahjahani era events, which are also considered a proof of the author’s great literary attainments and skill. His writings also include particulars and facts on Shah Jahan’s predecessors, particularly Akbar and Jahangir, and short comprehensive accounts of the poets, and other notables who were contemporaries with Shah Jahan. He also commanded the force of five hundred during the period of Shah Jahan. He was appointed the Deewan (Governor) of Punjab due to his sharp wisdom during Shah Jahan’s rule. Though Saleh Kamboh was a widely read person, little is known of the life of Muhammad Saleh Kamboh other than the works he composed.
It is claimed by some historic accounts that Muhammad Saleh Kamboh served as a Mughal Admiral and was killed while fighting alongside his fleet against the Ahoms atPandu on Bengal-Assam border while helping General Abdus Salam, the Faujdar (infantry commander) of Hajo, during the tenure of Islam Khan Mashadi, the Mughal Governor of Bengal. The exact date of Muhammad Saleh’s death is not certain. One of the great historians, Sayed Muhammad Latif states on unspecified authority in his works that Muhammad Saleh Kamboh died in A. H. 1085 (1675 AD) which is accepted by some writers. Saleh Kamboh is buried in Lahore, though his grave location is currently disputed by the owners of the property.
A Mosque known as Saleh Kamboh Mosque was built with his name in Mochi Gate, Walled City of Lahore. Located in south of the Walled City of Lahore, Mochi gate is another noteworthy speck of the Mughal Empire. Mochi Gate is one of the thirteen gates that surrounded the old city, linked with a thirty feet high fortified wall, built during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar.
The Mosque of Saleh Kamboh was completed during Aurangzeb’s reign, but the usual Shahajahani features which include multifold arches, stalactite squinches, delicately executed floral arabesque and interlacement in kashi and fresco are seen in the Mosque. The Mosque’s structure proves that it was built under the supervision of Shah Jahan’s court’s historians and architects. This Mosque is smaller in size if compared to other Mughal era Mosques. It is based on a single aisle and three bay arrangements, it is approachable through steps, and is surmounted by three domes. Because of space restriction instead of a permanent one there is a small removable pulpit which is stored away after the sermon. Its brick lined courtyard offsets the scintillating mosaic tile work on the east facade of the Mosque to advantage.
Shah Jahani Masjid/ Taxali Masjid:
Shah jahani Masjid was built in reign of Shah Jahan by the Abdullah Naib of Fida e khan kooka. This masjid was ruined with time so that Muslims renovated the masjid and now a days the structure erected in Taxali chowk is modified and new.
If you closely observe this piece of heritage, you will see that this Mosque has been built on the same trend as of the Begum Shahi and Wazir Khan Mosques located inside the Walled City of Lahore and belong to Mughal eras. You will surely see the tile mosaic work and small bricks there. Most of the parts of the Mosque are now cemented as the local started preserving the Mosque in their own ways and means, but these old works do reflect at some parts.
The structure of the Mosque originally had four minarets, out of which two at the face had survived to a time. The Mosque had a well and bath rooms towards east and north, which have all been encroached upon at present. The entire structure is now painted with white wash and all the fresco and glazed tile work cannot be seen anymore, but yes reflections are there. The well is now covered with washrooms which are used as public toilets against a token of rupees ten and with this cover the well is nowhere to be found now.
The Mosque was named after the Taxali Gate and thus was known as Taxali Wali Masjid. The Gate known as Taxali Gate was named so because of a Mint located nearby which is known as Taxal in the local / Urdu Language. The Taxali gate is one of the thirteen gates built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar along with a thirty feet high fortified wall. This gate does not exist now like many other gates of the walled city of Lahore.
Bukan Khan Mosque
It is a small beautiful mosque built in the Dhal Mohalla of Mochi Darwaza. It was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s Darogah Khas Mian Bokan Khan in 1841. Before that there was also a mosque here which was demolished and Reconstructed by Bokan Khan. The main door is on the north side. An engraved poetry of famous lahori poet Farid has been written on bricks on this door.
چوں زبو کن خان والا منزلت شد بناایں مسجد الاحترام
بہر تار بخش زہا تف شد ند ا کعبہ ثانی بنا شد ایں مقام
If you enter inside this door, there is an open field. In the past, this part was a garden. On the south side, there were living rooms for the poor. There were also wells and bathrooms. The three arches of the mosque are magnificent. The building of the mosque is solid and decorated with lime. A madrassa was also set up in the mosque before the establishment of Pakistan to introduce religious teachings to Muslim children in the area.
During the British rule, when Christianity was openly spread, the Muslims of Lahore gathered in the courtyard of the same mosque on September 24, 1884 and formally launched the Anjuman-e-Hamaat-e-Islam. Funds were collected for this. And even today the founding day of the association is celebrated on the same date. The condition of the mosque is not very good now.
HAMMAM WALI MASJID
Entering the Lohari Gate and going towards Sootar Mandi, you will find an old mosque adjacent to the area of the Haveli Nawab Sheikh Imam Ud din. This Mosque is locally known as Masjid Hammam Wali which means the old Mosque of the Hammam, because of a Hammam (royal bath) nearby. The Hammam is now not seen anywhere anymore, but is the Mosque is named so; there must have been a community / royal bath around.
the Mosque was built during the Mughal Emperor Akbar’s reign. Now the Mosque has no reflection of that era, it has lost the original fabric and glory. It is a three doorway structure which looks small if compared to other mosques of Mughal period like Wazir Khan, Mariam Zamani or Badshahi Mosque, but it is quite similar to Golden Mosque and Neevin Masjid in size and style of construction. It is evident that not only it has been repaired a number of times but its floors were also re-laid, as everything is built with new material now. All the three domes stand on low neck, which meet the dome in the shape of arch. Despite all the changes over different period of time the Mosque still is an example of burnt-brick building and belongs to an old era.
Kanhaiya Lal also writes in his book ‘History of Lahore’, that this Mosque is attributed to the period of Mughal Emperor Akbar. This is another proof of ascribing this Mosque to that period.
MASJID SHAB BHAR
“Masjid to bana di shab bhar mai, Imaan ki hararat walon ne
Mann apna purana papi hai, barson mai namazi ban na saka”
(Though the mosque was built overnight by those who claim to be the best of believers
Serial sinners that we are, even in years we could not imbibe the spirit of Namaz) – Iqbal
The wonder of this mosque is that it was built in one night, over a dispute between Hindus and Muslims regarding a plot of land during the British colonial period. The small Mosque is located near Shah Alam Chowk inside the walled city of Lahore. The Shah Alam Chowk is located near the Shah Almi Market which stands in the place of the Shah Alam Gate, named after Emperor Shah Alam (who died in Lahore in 1712), the third son of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Before his death, the gate was called the “Bherwala Gate”. This gate is situated between the Mochi and Lohari Gates.
it was constructed in 1917. Shah Almi Chowk was a huge place and in the center of Chowk was some unoccupied space about 3-Marlas. It happened so that a trespasser offered a prayer there which made the Hindus fuming as it was a bigger community at that time. At the same place Hindus demanded to make a temple and Muslims wanted to build a Mosque. This issue got enraged and aggravated. The case was submitted to the Court of a British Judge, who said to visit the place on the next day and then would make the decision. At that time the place was disputed and nothing could be built there.
At the same time, by law the religious places were not to be harmed and destroyed. A sharp minded lawyer of Muslim community advised the local Muslims that the only solution to save the land was to build a Mosque there overnight. That night was the only night before the visit of the British Judge. The Muslim community agreed to the proposal and started planning to build a Mosque under the leadership of Gama Pehalwan (a local wrestler). The zealous Muslims started working to achieve their goal. The Muslim community began to contribute from their personal businesses and brought in their available resources. At last, before the morning the Muslims managed to build the Mosque. The next morning when the judge saw a Mosque standing there, he gave the decision in favour of the Muslims, as by law they could not damage the religious place.
CHINIAN WALI MASJID
The Mosque is situated in Mohallah Chabak Sawaran inside the Walled City. It can be reached through Mochi Gate, Rang Mahal or Sonehri Masjid. Reaching the Rang Mahal you can ask any native to tell you about this Mosque.
As you see the name plaque on the Mosque the date of its original construction is given as A.H. 1080 which is 1669 of the Christian era. During this era emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir ruled Lahore and thus the Mosque’s relation to that era is evident. It s also said by the historians that some person whose name might have been “Sarfaraz Khan” or “Afraz Khan” was the one who got it constructed during that era.
The Mosque is said to be a jewel when it was built according to history books, though only few books mention it. It was not less than any other Mosque that was embellished with paintings and fresco during the Mughal era. The locals told me that the Mosque was once extensively decorated with Kashi Kari work, the evidence that gives it the name of Chinian. The tile mosaic presented numerous floral designs in addition to inscriptions in Naskh and Nastaliq scripts. The ceiling was beautified with tile mosaic decoration. In the interior the plaster also carried water-based paintings, the fresco the Mosque has now entrances which are situated on the northern and the eastern sides. With the eastern access arrangements for ablution are provided. It is, however, sketchy that there must have been a tank for the purpose at this place in old days.
There is an open courtyard in the Mosque and the chamber is divided into two portions. It carries three domes, central one of which is placed on a higher neck. They are in the form of double dome from inside. The same pattern of domes is found in many of the Mughal Era Mosques. The chamber of the mosque has three openings, and has a very concrete construction. A flight of steps to reach the roof top has been provided from the back wall through one of the Hujras as more storeys have been added in the Mosque. This structure along with the references from the history books once again endorse the fact that it was built during the Mughal Era.
Masjid Moran Tawaif
The character of Moraan plays hide and seek if we closely observe it in the Sikh History and her role in Lahore. She was known to be the beloved of Sher-e-Punjab Maharaja Ranjeet Singh and later became his wife. In his entire regime, Maharaja Ranjeet Singh did not mint a coin of his name; instead, the coin of Moraan was the currency of that time. In real life she was a dancer who performed in the court of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh.
The Maharaja at Moraan’s request, built a mosque called as Masjid-e-Tawaifan in 1824, which was again renamed in 1998 as Mai Moraan Masjid in Lahore. This is the Mosque located inside the Walled City of Lahore inside the Shah Almi Gate near Pappar Mandi. The red colored Mosque was once the symbol of passion and love of Moraan Tawaif for the religion of Islam and it showed the standards of religious harmony but the pages of history have been rewritten by changing the name of the Mosque.
The Mosque is built on a raised platform and one has to climb a few steps to enter inside the Mosque. The structure of the Mosque has been changed over the period of time, just like its name, and now it does not reflect the original fabric. There are rooms inside the Mosque for the residences of the Mullah and Moazan of the Mosque. On one side there is a water tank for the ablution. The placement of this tank has not been changed so far and it is located where it was built. The Mosque is a three dome Mosque like many others built in the same era. Maulana Ghulaam Rasool was deputed as the first Moazan of the Mosque by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh. This Mosque and the religious school ( madrassa) associated with it gained popularity in those times and people from far flung areas would come there to attend classes and for research on religion. The Mosque was known for the Islamic education, calligraphy and diversified religious studies. No doubt, that it attracted foreigners and locals of the sub continent in those times. Later when the British took over the Punjab, like many other Mosques this Mosque was also damaged. Unfortunately the school was closed down during the British era but the Mosque is still intact. This is a still a living mosque and opened for the prayers. At present the Mosque is hidden behind many perfume shops and one has to look for it amidst them.
Inside Bhatti Gate’s Mohallah Chomallah is the astounding Oonchi Masjid. One can enter in the Mosque by climbing almost 7 feet which makes twelve steps. In the same vicinity once the khateeb of Oonchi Masjid, Maulvi Imam Ud Din resided.
The Mosque has been completely renovated and rebuilt, losing all its original features. This Mosque might have been another wonder like Wazir Khan, Golden Mosque or Mariam Zamani, but unfortunately, it’s entirely altered now. The original Mosque is popularly believed to have been constructed by Akbar. The building is raised with clay-baked brick though representing hardly anything of the original periods. All the niches of the western wall carry inscriptions, two of which have Quranic verses while the third one mentions the name of Abul Fateh Jalal ud Din Mohammad Akbar Badshah Ghazi. There are three squat-type domes at the inner side while the roof hardly bears any dome.
There is no inscripted evidence to give it an exact date like we find in other mosques of Mughal era. However, from the inscription as mentioned, it should go back to the early period of Alamgir during which span his coins also bear his Knniyat as Abul Fateh, which during the later period is mentioned as Abul Muzaffar.
Although there are neither any remains nor a mention for sure about Akbar’s having been built any mosque in Lahore yet the historian Mulla Abdul Qadir Badayuni in his Muntakhabat-ul-Tawarikh mentions though in different context, of a Sufa or the platform mosque having been built here, where the Emperor wanted to court those asking their prayers. Bhatti Gate holds many Mosques like Lal Masjid, Mosque of Molana Rohi, Nomania Mosque and another built by Wazir Khan for females but this Oonchi Masjid is most popular inside Bhatti Gate.
A small mosque claimed to have spirits and ghouls inside it is the Moti Masjid. People visiting it have a strong belief that if Nawafil (Muslim Prayers) are offered at Moti Masjid, the wishes do come true. Having the same belief thousands of visitors from all over the world visits this place every week. During the Asr prayers you will hardly find a place to step inside the Mosque.
Located inside Lahore Fort near the café area, Moti Masjid was built in 1645 by the Mughal Shah Jahan. As per historic accounts it is stated that the Mosque might have been built along with Dolat Khana Khaas-o-Aam of Shah Jahan. Mosques with the same name are found in Agra and Delhi, as it was common Mughal practice to name mosques after precious stones and personalities like Wazir Khan. The word “Pearl” also refers to the gleaming marble resembling pearl, as well as the Mosque’s small size. It is one of those two mosques built in chaste marble by Shah Jahan. The second one was built at Agra Fort in 1654 A.D. the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb also constructed a mosque of the same type at Red Fort Delhi in 1662 A.D. They are all titled as Pearl Mosque because of their outlook imbued with white marble.
This is a small Mosque which can accommodate only hundred people at one time. The glowing facade of Moti Masjid is divided into five chambers with the central one slightly extended into the courtyard. The five chamber or bay facade was Mughals’ specialty and can be seen in many Mosques of the Mughal era including the Mariam Zamani Mosque. The interior is simple and plain with the exception of ceilings that are decorated and designed in arches and horizontal beams. The Mosque has three domes with a huge one in the center. These domes are in fact double domes, devised for loud acoustics. This feature of the domes enables the sound being heard clearly as in an auditorium. These domes can be seen as you enter the Lahore Fort through the British era postern gate. During the day as well as night these domes are glowing like a real pearl.
The facade of the graceful arches is finished with delicate pietra dura work. The same décor you will find in the Diwan-e-Khaas inside Shah Jahan’s Quadrangle, Sheesh Mahal, Naulakha Pavilion and some other buildings of Mughal Era. The specialty of this Mosque is that male and females can offer prayers there. On one side of the Mosque are the prayer rooms dedicated for the females. The Hujras are also made on another side for the visitors for resting and offering prayers. At one end of the Mosque is a very narrow and steep staircase leading to the roof top of the Mosque. It is usually closed and visitors are not allowed to go upstairs.
This Mosque is exclusively built of Sang-e-Marmar which is the white marble. It was brought from Makrana, Rajhstan, India at the time of its construction. Makrana has always been prominent for the white marble taken from the mines around it. Marble from Makrana was also used in the construction of the Taj Mahal. Till today, you will see this marble glowing like a pearl and that’s the spatiality of it. The Mosque has been conserved by the WCLA in 2021.