Badshahi Mosque Re-flooring
By Afnan Khan
The project of re-flooring of the historic Badshahi Mosque, which was supposed to be finished this year, has been delayed due to hold-up of funds for it by the Auqaf department.
Punjab Archaeology department was assigned to repair and replace the centuries old tiles placed on the floor of the mosque. The Auqaf Department, which is the guardian of the mosque, was supposed to pay for the job. The Archaeology department floated the tender for the replacement and repairing of the floors of the mosque.
According to rules, the Auqaf department was due to pay for the project through the Finance department but the department’s officials failed to send the approval to issue the funds to the concerned and the project went into jeopardy.
It was o learnt that the mosque needed immediate floor replacement as the tiles at the floor were cracked and rainwater seepage through the broken tiles goes to the foundation of t he structure.
This had endangered the whole structure. The mosque remained one of the biggest monuments in the region and a great tourist attraction in the cultural capital of Pakistan. It was built under the patronage of the sixth Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb Alamgir. The mosque was completed in 1673 under the supervision of Aurangzeb’s foster brother Muzaffar Hussain, who was appointed as governor of Lahore in May 1671. He was also Master of Ordnance to the emperor. The construction of the mosque took about two years from May 1671 to April 1673.
The mosque was built opposite the Lahore Fort, illustrating its stature in the Mughal Empire. In conjunction with the building of the mosque, a new gate was built at the fort, named Alamgiri Gate after the Emperor.
According to different history journals, Badshahi Mosque was badly damaged and was misused during Sikh rule. During the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the mosque was used as a stable for the army’s horses. They also would steal the jewels from the mosque, such as marble, rubies, gold, and other valuables. Even when the British took control of India, they used the mosque as a firing range to test guns and cannons.
The Britons also demolished a large portion of the wall of the mosque on pretext that Muslims could use it as a kind of fort against them. From 1852 onwards, piecemeal repairs were carried out under the supervision of the Badshahi Mosque Authority. Extensive repairs were carried out from 1939 to 1960 at a cost of about 4.8 million rupees, which brought the mosque to its original shape and condition.
The blueprint for the repairs was prepared by the late architect Nawab Zen Yar Jang Bahadur.There was recently a small museum added into the mosque, which remained the largest mosque in the world for a long time. The museum contains relics of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), Hazrat Ali (RA), and his daughter Hazrat Fatima Zahra (RA).
The present red sandstone flooring was laid during 1939-60. Similarly, the original floor of the prayer chamber was in cut and dressed bricks with marble and Sang-i-Abri lining representing shape of a Mussalah (prayer mat) were also replaced by marble Mussalah during the last repairs.
It was also learnt that the under consideration floors were replaced by the Government of Pakistan during the last repairs in 60s without noticing that the previously installed floors were built with specific tile, which were placed vertically in a way to impede the rainwater from seeping to the base of the mosque.
A senior Archaeology department official told requesting anonymity, that the floors getting laid were inline with the original construction done by the Mughal architects. He said the department concerned could have the floors constructed in their genuine form now since the same was laid in a wrong way in the 60s but they did not pay heed in this regard.
Director General Punjab Archaeology Department, Shahbaz Khan, confirmed that the funds were delayed by the Auqaf department due to unknown reasons but it did not affect the progress of the re-flooring as the contractors and PAD continued that with the available resources while the funds would be issued this year