Visit Badshahi Masjid from Lahore

Epitomising the beauty, passion and grandeur of the Mughal era, it is Lahore's most famous landmark and a major tourist attraction. 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.The mosque was constructed by the sixth Mughal emperor Aurangzeb who was not a patron of art and architecture, which the other Mughal rulers had patronised. The mosque was built between 1671 and 1673 by him under the guidance of Fidai Khan Koka who was the Mughal emperor's "master of ordinance". On 7 July 1799, the Sikh army of the Sukerchakia chief, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, took control of Lahore.After the capture of the city, the Badshahi Mosque was desecrated 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. In 1818, he built a marble edifice in the garden facing the mosque. 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). During this time, Henri De la Rouche, a French cavalry officer employed in the army of Maharaja Sher Singh, used a tunnel connecting the Badshahi Mosque to the Lahore Fort to temporarily store gunpowder.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.

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. 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.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, 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 Mawlana Abdul Qadir Azad, the then Khatib of the Mosque.

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. 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 and the Mosque is now almost restored to its original 17th century condition.The mosque combines "the functions" of both a mosque and a idgah. On the eastern side of the mosque is the entrance stairway "that leads through a great vaulted entrance" which is constructed of red sandstone. The courtyard which measures 276,000 square feet enclosed by single-aisled arcades can accommodate sixty thousand worshippers. At each of the four corners of the mosque, there is an octagonal, three storeyed minar of red sandstone "with an open, marble-covered canopy". The courtyard is framed by four smaller minarets. The prayer chamber "is dominated by a central arched niche" with five arches on either side which is about one third the size of the central niche. The largest dome is behind the central arch and on its two sides there are two bulbous marble domes. Besides the mosque has symmetry and "balanced proportions and clarity". The minarets are 196 feet tall with an outer circumference of 67 feet and the inner circumference is eight and half feet. Weapons were stored in the minarets during Sikh rule. The mosque is built on a raised platform, which is reached by flight of 22 steps. Though the rooms above the entrance gate are not open to the public it is believed that it contains the hair of Muhammad and Ali.

Located at: Badshahi Masjid, lahore, Pakistan
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