Friday May 27, 2022

Conservation of Wazir Khan Masjid begins

By Ali Raza
May 24, 2016


Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) with the financial help of US Embassy has started conservation of eastern façade of Masjid Wazir Khan.

Officials said Aga Khan Trust for Culture is providing technical help while US Embassy had provided funding of Rs1,120,096 for the project. Masjid Wazir Khan was built in 1634 AD on the orders of Hakim Ilmuddin, the then Prime Minister of 5th Mughal King Shahjahan.

The mosque is located inside Delhi Gate and is situated in middle of the Walled City of Lahore. The mosque is known as a masterpiece of Mughal architecture due to its style, solid structure, profusion and delicacy of its decorative motifs.

Other important feature of this mosque is the presence of Hujras and shops on its eastern and northern sides which were constructed to make the mosque sustainable through income generated by these Hujras and shops.

As in other monuments of Lahore, the area around this mosque has been affected badly due to unplanned development and encroachments in the form on houses, shops and roads, officials said, adding with the passage of time the levels of road on northern side and open area on eastern side of mosque were raised and Hujras and shops were filled and blocked.

Goal of the project was to reclaim the historic urban square and conserve the eastern façade of the Wazir Khan Mosque, officials said, adding it would achieve the objectives of exposing full façade of the mosque and restoring the chowk by taking down the pavement level of the chowk to its historic level. The project will also revive the urban open space by reorganising it to be used for enhancement of the visual environment and communal activities, they maintained.

They said the project would make use of Hujras along the eastern façade of the mosque by conserving and putting the now abandoned chambers into a compatible and appropriate use. “Restoration of the historic structure of Dina Nath's well in the Chowk is also a part of the project”, officials revealed. They said rehabilitating a historic building on the southwest corner of the Chowk, by removing portions encroaching into the mosque structure and conserving its structure and fabric for its continued use for the present time, improvement of the urban environment by rehabilitating the streetscape and provision of street furniture and landscaping, contributing towards scholarship on the built heritage through archaeological research and documentation of the site, and publication of a project completion report documenting physical interventions, preservation techniques, etc., to be shared with the wider scientific community and setting the background for future conservation projects to fully preserve and restore the Wazir Khan Mosque are also part of this project.

Rashid Makhdum, Consultant AKCSP said a few test pits were dug at different places on northern and eastern side of the mosque, which produced encouraging results. On the base of these results, it was decided to conduct a proper excavation with the collaboration of Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan, Punjab Archaeology YASAT Department Government of Punjab and Walled City of Lahore Authority.

Before excavation of the outside area of mosque it was planned to dig two soak wells for disposal of rainwater on extreme ends of the Chowk in southeastern and north-eastern corner of the area, he said and revealed that excavations were started in soak well, on the south eastern corner of open area in front of mosque and carried down to the depth of 5’-6” that level a brick on edge floor was revealed.

This floor was found in damaged condition due to fixing of an electricity pole at this particular point in the past.

Director General WCLA Kamran Lashari while talking with The News said that WCLA is dedicatedly working to restore the original features of Lahore’s heritage.

“Wazir Khan Mosque is one of the most important monuments of Walled City of Lahore, so the restoration and preservation work was stared in this mosque,” he said, adding besides other consolidation and repair works of the mosque structure, it was also decided to repair the shops and Hujras, and restore the original floor levels of Shahjahan period in front of main entrance of the mosque.