The mosque is located about 260 metres west of the Delhi Gate, one of six remaining historic gates of Lahore’s Walled City. It was commissioned by Shah Jahan’s physician, Hakeem Ilam-ud-din Ansari, also known as Wazir Khan. Khan would later become the appointed subedar (governor) of Punjab. Wazir Khan commissioned the mosque in 1634 in order to house the tomb of an esteemed Sufi saint, Miran Badshah. Sufism is a mystical form of Islam that focuses on an inward search for God and tolerance. Members of the two main Muslim sects–Sunni and Shi’a–may incorporate elements of Sufism.
As we’ve written before in our article “Elements of Mosque Architecture”, mosques are often not standalone buildings, and are combined with other community structures, such as hospitals and madrasas (Islamic religious schools). In Lahore, Pakistan, mosques even house shops facing the road that provide income to support the upkeep of the mosque. Wazir Khan Mosque is not an exception–it encompasses the “Calligrapher’s Bazaar”, a row of shops, and Wazir Khan Chowk, a town square. In addition to the row of shops traditionally reserved for calligraphers and bookbinders, Wazir Khan Mosque also rented space to other merchants to earn revenue.
Construction of the mosque began in 1635 and ended seven years later. Wazir Khan Mosque is one of the most beautiful architectural monuments in Lahore city, with five compartments topped by a dome and opening onto a spacious courtyard. This design was first implemented in Lahore in the Wazir Khan Mosque, and later adapted in the construction of Badshahi Mosque, located in front of Lahore Fort.
As described by George Michell in “The Majestic Mosques of India and Pakistan” (published in Mosques: Splendors of Islam, Rizzoli International Publications, 2017), while the mosques you’ll find in Agra and Delhi are made of stone, Wazir Khan Mosque was built from bricks, the preferred building material in Punjab. The east main entrance has an arched portal with decorative elements. Its interior walls are covered in elegant mosaic work, Arabic calligraphy of Qur’anic verses and Persian poetry, decorated with colourful glazed tile and lime plaster. The tile work design is called faience, where the glaze used contained tin.
Wazir Khan Mosque is currently on the tentative heritage list of UNESCO.
Articles about Pakistan published by Odyssey Traveller.
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External articles to assist you on your visit to Pakistan.