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October 28, 2016

Wazir Khan Masjid face conservation completed

Lahore

 
October 28, 2016

LAHORE

Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) in collaboration with Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCSP) has completed the conservation and rehabilitation work of northern facade of Wazir Khan Mosque.

A colourful ceremony was held here Thursday in which a plaque was unveiled by Norwegian Ambassador Mr Tore Nedrebo and WCLA DG Kamran Lashari. AKCSP CEO Salman Beg, members of the Wazir Khan Mosque Committee, as well as representatives of the conservation team that worked on the various phases of the project from July 2014 – June 2016 were also present at the ceremony.

The WCLA officials said the project was completed with the generous financial support from the Royal Norwegian Embassy and Aga Khan Trust for Culture and facilitated by the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA). They said built in 1634-35 by Hakim Ilmuddin during the regime of Shah Jehan, the Wazir Khan Mosque complex was a primary central element of the Walled City and included the mosque itself, the Chowk (an introductory urban space) a row of shops (hujras) integrated in the entrance system meant specifically for calligraphers and bookbinders, and additional shops on the eastern and northern façades built into the body of the monument. 

Tanya Qureshi, senior WCLA official said the profuse architectural decorations that embellish its exterior and interior surfaces, most predominantly its kashikari (glazed-tile mosaic work), are a singular outstanding attribute that places the mosque in the frontline of the major monuments of the world. She said phase I of the project involved removal of encroachments and dense overhead cables, archaeological excavation of a 300 cubic-meter trench along the façade with a retaining wall that exposed the original floor level and hujras (chambers) built into the façade, and the construction of a soakage well for the drainage of the trench. 

Talking about phase II, she said it involved the detailed documentation of the façade, the structural consolidation of the excavated hujras, conservation of the architectural embellishments, including cut-and-dressed brickwork, carved brickwork, brick imitation work, and restoration of terracotta screens, woodwork and missing masonry elements. 

For the sensitive issue regarding the conservation of glazed tile mosaics, a detailed value assessment of material        physical, phenomenological and cultural     social values of the Mosque was conducted in order to establish prototype panels and a justifiable course for their conservation, she added. 

Director General WCLA, Kamran Lashari said rehabilitation of the northern façade and the adaptive reuse of its hujras for the sale of traditional handicrafts will highlight rich Mughal heritage of the Wazir Khan Mosque in the Walled City of Lahore, and will form a template for the conservation of the entire mosque when the latter is put into effect. The completion of this projects comes at the heels of the UNESCO award-winning success of the Shahi Hammam conservation project, and foreshadows the completion of the ongoing conservation of the US funded Chowk Wazir Khan, he maintained.