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There is a common misconception that most mosques look similar. However, this is not the case, especially in Pakistan, where a significant number of mosques are of diverse designs. Several such mosques (which will serve as Eid Gahs in a few days) have been cited as Religious World Heritage Sites by the United Nations, and include the following.
Mohabbat Khan Mosque, Peshawar. Built in 1630, this mosque is named after the Mughal Governor of Peshawar. Its architecture exhibits a high level of detail and craftsmanship, and while it may be deemed ‘conventional’ by many people, what makes it different is that its prayer area is located on the western side of the complex instead of around the courtyard. According to some accounts, its minarets served as execution sites during the Sikh Rule.
Shah Jahan Mosque, Thatta. Named after the Mughal emperor, this mosque was built in 1647. What makes it strikingly different from other mosques built in Lahore and Delhi during the same period is that its central dome is flanked by smaller domes instead of traditional minarets. What also makes this mosque unique is that red bricks and blue glazed ceramic tiles have been used for its construction instead of conventional marble.
Shahi Eid Gah Mosque, Multan. Built in 1735 by Nawab Abdul Samad Khan, the governor of Multan, this mosque boasts of a sprawling courtyard, a huge prayer chamber and seven domes. Its use of striking design elements such as mosaics and glazed tiles coupled with its distinctive colour palette which includes blue, green and white, distinguishes it from other mosques.
Bhong Mosque, Bhong. Commissioned in 1932 and completed in 1982, this Aga Khan Award winning mosque juxtaposes different styles of Islamic architecture and boasts of a fantastic level of architectural detail. A wide variety of materials of varying colours have been used to construct it, as well as to embellish its walls (including teak, ivory, marble, coloured glass, onyx, glazed tiles and mirrors) making it a feast for the eyes, although some people may consider it a tad gaudy.
– Amena Nadeem
The writer is an architect at Studio Subtractive.
First published in the Real Estate Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on July 27, 2014.