After a break for the celebrations of the end of Ramadan, the Eid ul Fitr, here is my contribution for the weekly photo challenge “One shot, 2 ways“. For this challenge I chose the Badshahi (=royal) Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan.
For long time, friends had been inviting us to Lahore. After all the hesitations, my colleague convinced me by hitting the nail on the head:
“In Pakistan you should know, where not to go!”
Lahore and its Mughul heritage
Lahore fascinates me for its wealth in history, architecture and art, of most the heritage left by the Mughul Empire. In another blogpost, I already compiled our very summarized tour to the Lahore fort.
Badshahi Mosque of Lahore
Like the fort, the Badshahi Mosque of Lahore is also a UNESCO World heritage site.
The mosque was commissioned by the sixth Mughul Emperor Aurangzeb in 1671 and completed in 1673, is the second largest mosque in Pakistan and the fifth largest mosque in the world. (Ref: Wikipedia). The mosque is capable of accommodating 55,000 worshippers in its main prayer hall and a further 95,000 in its courtyard and porticoes.
The picture above was taken from vertically across the entrance of the mosque. In the middle of the courtyard you can see a marble fountain. The element water, representing life, has always been an important feature in Muslim architecture.
The picture below shows the upper part of the internal side of the mosque entrance in B/W. I chose to finish it in B/W to make the wall decorations more distinguishable.
The photos were taken in 2 very compromising situations: late afternoon hours and fog!
In addition to the above two pictures for the weekly photo challenge, I have added more photos to this blog post to show the magnificence of the architecture and workmanship of those times.
To go along with my photo-documentation, I have found this information at the UNESCO site:
The mosque and its vast courtyard are raised upon a platform which is approached from the east by a handsome flight of 22 steps an upstanding gateway of traditional Mughul type. The entrance which is a double storey edifice is elaborately decorated with framed and carved panelling on all its facades.
Here are more pictures of the exterior part of the entrance, painstakingly taken against being pushed from all sides by other visitors!
Ref: UNESCO site
At the four corners there are square minarets surmounted by pseudo-pavilions of red sandstone with white marble cupolas. At the four corners of the courtyard are the tall octagonal minars (towers). Four smaller minarets, also octagonal, are attached to the corners of the prayer chamber. The inscription on the gateway indicates that it was built in 1673-74 A.D.
The red sandstone of the building is decorated externally with unobtrusive lines and patterns in white marble inlay. The embellishment of the prayer chamber in the interior and exterior with Zanjira interlacing and flowers with their spidery tendrils, and treated in bold relief, is a unique work of unsurpassed beauty and workmanship in Mughul architecture.
As said above, at the four corners of the courtyard are the tall octagonal minars (towers). Four smaller minarets, also octagonal, are attached to the corners of the prayer chamber. Above them rise three grand bulbous marble domes.
The pictures of the mosque at night were intentional, however we had hoped for less fog!
Those, who have visited the Grand Mosque of Abu Dhabi, will recognise the outlay of mosque with its domes. It is said, that the architecture, interior design and the decorations of the Grand Mosque of Abu Dhabi was conceived to include Muslim heritage from all over the world e.g. the layout of the Lahore Mosque and the interior of the Mosques of Al-Andalus.
Lahore in winter – some practical aspects and tips
When you think of Lahore, you will think of a T-shirt/Blouse, jeans and sandal look or, right? Or the equivalent for the local population. Well, I was in for a surprise, but luckily packed appropriately by coincidence!
We planned our trip in new year vacations 2011-2012. This was my first time visit to Lahore in winter, having been there in spring and summer. I was surprised at the temperatures ranging mainly below 15 C at day time, < 10 C at night and such a thick fog, that you hardly could see beyond the front of your own car. Pedestrians covered in their traditional schals looked like spooky figures stepping out of nowhere!
The houses are not centrally heated and due to lots of mismanagement, there is no regular electricity supply to meet domestic needs. Gas, of which Pakistan has (had?) its own supply, is getting less and less in pressure, so much so that heating and cooking simultaneously is not compatible. Take along hot water bottles to provide warm feet in bed. Fleece garments for the nights will be very appropriate!
The going out we managed by privately rented cars, which we can highly recommend. The big bonus of the winter however was, that it was too cold for mosquitos and thus the fear for Malaria and Dengue fever was low.
In future: I will not travel in winter to Lahore, rather stick to late spring and late autumn. Besides the political and socio-economic safety as well as the medical issues and precautions to be taken for a trip to a country like Pakistan, 5 days were just too short.
I think, you do need one good week if you only stick to Lahore and the historical and heritage sites. If you want to go outside Lahore, plan a second week!
- Have you been to Pakistan or any other country with Mughul Architecture e.g. India, Bangladesh?
- How do you feel in these countries?
- Do you have specific questions pertaining to dress code, moving around in the countries, what to take into consideration, when you are invited to someone’s place etc. Ask! May be I can be of help!
Signing off with another feature of the Lahorites, who are a people full of life: they enjoy to eat! There is this area dedicated to food, called the Lahore food street, where you get all the traditional foods! We experienced an amazing dinner with a beautiful view over Lahore.