Plan to restore Lahore’s oldest Mughal-era mosque

Plan to restore Lahore’s oldest Mughal-era mosque
(Monday, February 8, 2016) 12:08

Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) is all set to launch a grand cleanup operation to rescue the Mariam Zamani Mosque, Lahore’s oldest Mughal-era mosque.

Sources in WCLA claimed that special teams of the authority had already gathered data of encroachments. They said the mosque, which is called Begum Shahi or Mariam Zamani Mosque, is encroached upon by Rim Market and all past efforts to rescue the monument had failed due to various reasons including lack of the political will.

“We have already received the nod of the political leadership to make all monuments encroachment-free,” said Director WCLA Najamus Saqib while talking to the scribe. He said his teams were working on Marrium Zamani mosque and confirmed that a cleanup operation would be launched soon.

Giving history of the mosque, WCLA’s Tania Qureshi said the mosque was called the mother of all mosques and it was the first mosque of Lahore which was constructed during the Mughal era (1611-1614) by Emperor Jahangir for his beloved mother Mariam Zamani, popularly known as “Jodha Akbar,” the wife of Emperor Akbar.

The mosque, which is located inside Masti Gate, can be termed as the earliest surviving Mughal-era mosque in Lahore. The mosque is also the first to exhibit a five-bay facade and was constructed of brick masonry and rendered with plaster.  Though the mosque is small in structure than the Wazir Khan Mosque, it is decorated with rich fresco which can still be seen intact in some parts.

Presently, the unique mosque is not even visible to citizens because of heavy encroachments of Rim Market. Even the mosque is situated in front of the Lahore Fort and once it was one of entrances to the Fort, it is surrounded by heaps of iron rims.

Najamus Saqib said that WCLA was also working for the rehabilitation of the mosque and its fresco and façade would also be restored in coming days. He said the mosque was decorated with several inscriptions, both Quranic and non-Quranic, which would also be restored.

He said the Rim Market was established in the area because of Lorry Adda and with the passage of time the market expanded.

He said now when the Lorry Adda was moved outside the city, the market should also go.

He said recently a number of goods transport owners had started establishing their stores and offices in the area, which was also destroying the beauty of the Walled City.

Local residents said that they would welcome any kind of operation cleanup against encroachers in this area and urged the government to restore the Marrium Zamani Mosque to its past glory. If restored, it may become a popular tourist site of the city like the Wazir Khan Mosque.

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