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Mosques



The finest examples of mosque architecture are the Wazir Khan Mosque, the great Badshahi Mosque of Lahore, Shah Jehani Mosque of Thatta and Masjid Mahabat Khan of Peshawar. All the four mosques were constructed during the Mughal rule, a period when Muslim architecture was at its zenith. With its large gateway and four octagonal minarets, Wazir Khan Mosque has a certain picturesque character which places this conception in a style by itself. Every portion of its structure, both inside and outside, is enriched with a variegated scheme of colour, either by floral patterns painted in tempera or panels of more conventional design executed in lustrous glaze. The ornamental decoration has been done in most expansive and colourful mood and the building has been deliberately designed structurally to create decorative space, for example, receptacles have been provided for coloured embellishment while all the wall surfaces are divided up into panels to accommodate the same ornamentation.



The great Mosque of Thatta, build by Shah Jehan, the builder of Taj Mahal, was constructed about the middle of 17th century, and its glazed tile and stucco decoration are among the finest specimens of this type of work. A great feat of engineering skill in this mosque is the structural design of building which provides both for projection of sound as well as supply of fresh air at all times, including months of intense summer heat. Even today the mosque does not have any artificial installations such as loudspeaker or fans.

Masjid Mahabat Khan at Peshawar was constructed in 1643 by Mahabat Khan, the Governor of Peshawar during the reign of Emperor Shah Jehan while the Badshahi Mosque of Lahore was built by Emperor Aurangzeb in 1674. Both these mosques are buildings of strong and resolute character. With more minarets than is usual in the structure of their order, they present imposing appearance. Three beautiful domes rise grandly over roofs of their main prayer hall. Surmounting a plain yet stately expanse of solid masonry, the bulbous domes of Badshahi Mosque are superb examples of workmanship and are impressive whether seen from the courtyard or form the rear views of the exterior. The facade of this mosque is red sandstone decorated with marble inlay in floral and geometrical patterns.



A different response is provided by some of the mosques constructed recently in Islamabad. The design of these mosques reflects chaste and graceful forms representing some of the most elegant features of Muslim architecture evolved through the ages. The most famous of these is the Faisal Masjid. The design of this mosque, was prepared by a renowned Turkish architecture, Mr. Vedat Dalokay and selected through an international competition. The mosque spreads over 189,705 square metres in the vicinity of Margalla Hills. Each of its four towering minarets, 88 metres high, would be visible from a distance. The prayer hall or sanctuary is a tent-shaped 40 metres high building that would accommodate 10,000 persons. The entrance, veranda, and porticos have a covered praying capacity for 24,000 persons while main courtyard on the eastern side will provide space for 40,000 people. Under the roof of the main courtyard provision has been made for an Islamic Research Institute, ablution area for 300 persons at a time, printing press, cafeteria, a museum and offices of mosque administration. Some other architecturally significant mosques of contemporary period outside Islamabad are the Jamia Masjid of Wah Cantonment, Defence Society Mosque of Karachi and Masjid-i-Shuhada of Lahore.


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