Pictures: Inside the Badshahi Mosque

Mar 24, 2013

Inside The Badshahi Mosque or the 'Royal Mosque' in Lahore, Pakistan

Built by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1671 and completed in 1673.
It is the second largest mosque in Pakistan and South Asia and the fifth largest mosque in the world.

Inside the Badshahi MosqueSpecifications

Capacity 100,000
  • Main Prayer Hall - 5,000
  • Courtyard and Porticoes - 95,000
Dome(s) 3
Minaret(s) 8 (4 major, 4 minor)
Minaret height 176 ft 4 in (53.75 m)

Construction (1671–1673)

Construction of the Badshahi Mosque was started in May 1671 and was completed after two years in April 1673.

The Badshahi Mosque was built opposite the Lahore Fort, emphasising its stature in the Mughal Empire. It was constructed on a raised platform to avoid inundation from the nearby Ravi River during flooding. The mosque's foundation and structure was constructed using bricks and compacted clay. The structure was then clad with red sandstone tiles brought from a stone quarry near Jaipur in Rajasthan and its domes were clad with white marble.

Inscribed in a marble tablet on the entrance of the Badshahi Mosque are the following words in Persian:

“The Mosque of Abul Muzaffar Muhy-ud-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb Alamgir, Victorious King, constructed and completed under the superintendence of the Humblest Servant of the Royal Household, Fidai Khan Koka, in 1084 A.H.”

Architecture and design

The architecture and design of the Badshahi Mosque closely resembles that of the smaller Jama Mosque in Delhi, India. Its design was inspired by Islamic, Persian, Central Asian and Indian influences. Mosque is bold, vast and majestic in its expression.

The steps leading to the Main Prayer Hall and its floor are in Sang-e-Alvi (variegated marble). The Main Prayer Hall is divided into seven sections by means of multi-foil arches supported on heavy piers, three of which bear the double domes finished externally in white marble. The remaining four sections are roofed with flat domes.

The interior of the Main Prayer Hall is richly embellished with stucco tracery (Manbatkari), fresco work, and inlaid marble.

The exterior is decorated with stone carving as well as marble inlay on red sandstone, specially of lotiform motifs in bold relief. The embellishment has Indo-Greek, Central Asian and Indian architectural influence both in technique and motifs.

The skyline is furnished by beautiful ornamental merlons inlaid with marble lining adding grace to the perimeter of the mosque. In its various architectural features like the vast square courtyard, the side aisles (dalans), the four corner minarets (minars), the projecting central transept of the prayer chamber and the grand entrance gate, is summed up the history of development of mosque architecture of the Muslim world over the thousand years prior to its construction in 1673.

The north enclosure wall of the Mosque was laid close to the Ravi River bank, so a majestic gateway could not be provided on that side and, to keep the symmetry the gate had to be omitted on the south wall as well. Thus, a four Aiwan plan like the earlier Jama Mosque in Delhi, could not be replicated at the Badshahi Mosque.

The walls were built with small kiln-burnt bricks laid in kankar, lime mortar (a kind of hydraulic lime) but have a veneer of red sandstone. The steps leading to the prayer chamber and its plinth are in variegated marble.

The main prayer chamber is very deep and is divided into seven compartments by rich engraved arches carried on very heavy piers. Out of the 7 compartments, three double domes finished in marble have superb curvature, whilst the rest have curvilinear domes with a central rib in their interior and flat roof above. In the eastern front aisle, the ceiling of the compartment is flat (qalamdani) with a curved border (ghalatan) at the cornice level.

The original floor of the courtyard was laid with small kiln-burnt bricks laid in the Mussalah pattern. The present red sandstone flooring was laid during the last major refurbishhment (1939–60). Similarly, the original floor of the main prayer chamber was in cut and dressed bricks with marble and Sang-i-Abri lining forming Mussalah and was also replaced by marble Mussalah during the last major repairs.

There are only two inscriptions in the Mosque:
  1. On the main gateway entrance
  2. Kalimah in the prayer chamber under the main high vault.

Badshahi Mosque Layout


Courtyard: 528 ft 8 in (161.14 m) x 528 ft 4 in (161.04 m) (area: 278,784 sq ft (25,899.9 m2)) (the world's largest mosque courtyard) (compared to 186 ft × 186 ft (57 m × 57 m) for the main platform of the Taj Mahal), divided into two levels: the upper and the lower. In the latter, funeral prayers can also be offered.

Prayer Chamber: 275 ft 8 in (84.02 m) x 83 ft 7 in (25.48 m) x 50 ft 6 in (15.39 m) high, with its main vault 37 ft 3 in (11.35 m) x 59 ft 4 in (18.08 m) high but with the merlons 74 ft (22.555200 m). (area: 22,825 sq ft (2,120.5 m2))

4 Corner Minarets: 176 ft 4 in (53.75 m) high and 67 ft (20 m) in circumference, are in four stages and have a contained staircase with 204 steps (compared with 162.5 ft (49.5 m) for the minarats of the Taj Mahal).

Central Dome: Diameter 65 ft (20 m) at bottom (at bulging 70 ft 6 in (21.49 m)); height 49 ft (15 m); pinnacle 24 ft (7.3 m) and neck 15 ft (4.6 m) high.

2 Side Domes: Diameter 51 ft 6 in (15.70 m) (at bulging 54 ft (16.46 m)); height 32 ft (9.8 m); pinnacle 19 ft (5.8 m); neck 9 ft 6 in (2.90 m) high.

Gateway: 66 ft 7 in (20.29 m) x 62 ft 10 in (19.15 m) x 65 ft (20 m) high including domelets; vault 21 ft 6 in (6.55 m) x 32 ft 6 in (9.91 m) high. Its three-sided approach steps are 22 in number.

Side Aisles (Dalans): 80 in number. Height above floor 23 ft 9 in (7.24 m); plinth 2 ft 7 in (0.79 m).

Central Tank: 50 ft (15 m) x 50 ft (15 m) x 3 ft (0.91 m) deep (area: 2,500 sq ft (230 m2)
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