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It was early July and the hottest time of day when we set off to visit Wazir Khan Masjid. Our route to the mosque was very enjoyable, not only did we see various interesting buildings and sights, we saw the transition of people from various classes, occupations and demographics as we travelled further into old Lahore.

Driving down Mall road, sighting the various old colonial buildings such as Jinnah library, Aitchison college, Governor house, all whilst listening to classical Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan qawwalis, really setting the scene for us. I’ve always found it so fascinating to imagine what that area was like when it was all first built under the British Raj.

The deeper we drove into the Old Lahore, the narrower the roads became and the more difficult it became to travel deeper by car. As it was a few days before Eid, the baazar surrounding the mosque was lively with crowds of people doing their last minute Eid shopping. There were shops on both sides of the small street which left a very small amount of space to walk, as well as motor bikes weaving through the crowd of people. It was interesting to see the various small shops, that have probably been passed down through the generations, specialising in various goods such as semi precious stones, spices and books. It was an adventure in itself walking through these historic streets whilst fasting and through the heat.

When we finally arrived at Wazir Khan mosque, I was in awe of how breathtaking the mosque was. The mosque is described by many as the “mole on the cheek of Lahore” as it is a hidden gem, tucked away in the heart of the walled city in Old Lahore. I really couldn’t articulate into words how beautiful and grand the architecture was. We walked around the mosque admiring the magnificent Mughal era with its multi coloured murals which covered most of the mosque’s interior. The mosque was built between 1634 to 1640, during the reign of Mughal Emperor Shan Jahan. It was built by Nawab Wazir Khan, who was the Governor of Lahore till 1639.

The entire mosque was built with small red sand stone bricks. The beautiful mosaic tiles known as kashi-kari plastered the majority of the exterior parts of the walls. The Arabic calligraphy and various designs were striking as the diverse colours stood out vibrantly against the red sand stone bricks. An integral part of the mosque when building it was the 22 shop bazaar built inside of the mosque, which is the first ever provided in a mosque at the time. It was marvelous and it was amazing to gain insight into a mosque built in the 1600s under the Mughals, that still stands strong today. I most admired the contrast between the intricate vibrant details against the slightly worn out overall aesthetics.


We wandered around for awhile taking photographs whilst taking in every single detail. We took some time out to pray our namaaz, and to reflect on our fast we were keeping that day. Even though it was over 40 degrees we were so blown away by the beauty and spirituality of the mosque,we did not feel the heat or our hunger.


The mosque caretaker allowed my sister and I to climb up one of the mosque’s minarets. At the top we could see the view of the entire mosque, Kashmiri Bazar and the rest of the city and streets of Lahore surrounding the mosque, a breath taking view, one I won’t forget. We could see the crowd of people in the bazaar looking as tiny as ants, rushing around for last minute Eid shopping before having to rush home to prepare that night’s Iftari. The silence we experienced whilst admiring the hustle and bustle of Lahore was strangely calming in a peaceful way. We just stood there for awhile reflecting, not wanting to leave until the caretaker urged us to come back down and bought us back to reality.

 


– Marium Ullah

Recent SOAS graduate and founder of Needle Town, a handmade embroidery business inspired by South Asian culture.
IG: @mariumm95

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