Badshahi Mosque (Royal Mosque) is the second largest mosque in Pakistan, located in the provincial capital of Punjab, Lahore. It was built in 1673 by the sixth Mughal king Aurangzeb Alamgir. This mosque became the largest mosque in the world from 1673 to 1986, when the completion of Shah Faisal Mosque in Islamabad was controlled by its scope and size. Its total area is 29,867.2 square meters (321,488 square feet) and can accommodate 100,000 worshipers. It is now the world’s 8th largest mosque in terms of living space and the 10th largest mosque in total area. Badshahi Mosque with its beautiful Mughal architecture and historical background is an important milestone and tourist attraction not only in Lahore but throughout Punjab.
Badshahi mosque was built during the reign of Aurangzeb Alamgir, the sixth Mughal king in the Mughal period. In 1671, he ordered the construction of the Badshahi Mosque. For this purpose, he appointed his foster brother Fiadi Khan Koka as governor of Lahore, especially to oversee the construction of the mosque. The mosque was completed two years later in 1673. Fiadi Khan Koka was the governor of Lahore till 1675.
In July 1799, Sikh militia Maharaja Ranjit Singh conquered Lahore. During the Sikh rule, the mosque was badly abused and damaged many times. The Sikh Maharaja used the vast courtyard of the mosque as a stabilizer for his army’s horses. He also used 80 hujras (study rooms) built around the courtyard as quarters and arsenal for his troops.
In 1841, a Sikh civil war broke out between Sher Singh (son Ranjit Singh) and Maharani Chand Kaur. During the war, Sher Singh used the minarets of the mosque to bomb lightly supporters of the asylum seekers at the royal fort to mount light guns called the Zamburahs.
In the mid-eighteenth century after the British took over Lahore, the British East India Company continued to use this mosque for military purposes. They demolished 80 hujras (study rooms) around the courtyard of the mosque to prevent them from being used against the British and rebuilt to build the halls that still exist.
In 1952, the British leadership in India realized growing resentment among Muslims against the use of the Badshahi mosque for military purposes, so they create the authority to restore the mosque to its original shape and to return to the Muslims.
Later in 1939, the Badshahi Mosque Authority undertook extensive repairs to restore the mosque.
After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, Lahore became a part of Pakistan as well as the Badshahi Mosque. The Badshahi Mosque Authority continued the restoration work of the mosque in 1939, even in 1960 it was restored to its original condition till it cost a total of Rs 5.8 million.
Later Fakir Family of Lahore donated relics of Prophet Muhammad(PBUH), His daughter Fatima(R.A) and His cousin Ali(R.A) to Badshahi Mosque. The government of Pakistan used these artifacts to set up a museum inside the main gateway entrance to the Badshahi Mosque.
In 1993, the government of Pakistan proposed to designate Badshahi Mosque as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where it was included in the Pakistan Tentative List for possible nomination in the list of World Heritage.
In 2000, repair work was done on the marble root of the Badshahi Mosque.
In 2008, the red stone tiles in the large courtyard of the Badshahi Mosque were replaced. The sandstone used for this replacement was imported form a site near Jaipur, Rajasthan which was the original source of the sandstone when the mosque was built in 1673.
Design and architecture
The design and architecture of the Badshahi Mosque was influenced by Islamic, Central Asian, Persian and Indian architectural designs. The design of the Badshahi Mosque is almost identical to the Jama Mosque, Delhi, built by Emperor Shah Jahan, father of Aurangzeb Alamgir in 1648.
The Badshahi Mosque and its spacious courtyard are built on a platform that receives 22 three-way steps from the traditional Mughal style and is accessed from the east using the graceful Gateway.
The total area of the prayer hall in the Badshahi Mosque is 22,825 square feet (2120 square meters). Its interior is largely decorated with inlaid marble, fresco work and stucco tracery. The exterior of the Main Prayer Hall features with stone carvings and marble inlay on the red stone.
The total area of the courtyard is 278, 784 square feet (25,899.9 square meters). During the major renovation work of the Badshahi Mosque Authority (1939-60), red stone floors were laid in the courtyard. In fact, it was decorated with bricks smaller than furnaces in a spice pattern.
The mosque has four corner minarets, each has a height of 176 feet (53.75 meters) and a Circumference of 67 feet (20 meters).
The central dome has a diameter of 70 feet 6 inches (21.49 meters) and it is 49 feet (15 meters) high. The mosque also has two small domes, one on each side of the large dome. Each small dome has a height of 54 feet (16.36 meters) in height and 32 feet (9.8 meters) in height.