Wazir Khan Mosque Complex The Wazir Khan Mosque was built in 1634-35 AD (1044-45 AH), by Hakim ‘Ali ud din, subedar (governor) of the Lahore province (1632-1639) in the reign of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. It was the largest mosque in Lahore at that time, with the Badshahi Mosque construction still fifty years away.
Located about 260 meters inside Delhi Gate, the Wazir Khan Mosque complex sat astride the Shahi Guzargah (Royal Trail), surrounded by the dense organic fabric of the Walled city. The complex included the mosque itself, the chowk (an urban introductory space), a row of hujras (shops) integrated in the entrance system meant specifically for calligraphers and bookbinders, and additional shops on the eastern and northern facades built into the body of the monument. The profuse architectural decorations that embellish its exterior and interior surfaces are a singular outstanding attribute that places the mosque in the frontline of the major monuments of the world.
- A comprehensive documentation of the Mosque was carried out and published in 2012 by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) to detemine the range of problems and issues faced by the Mosque. The conservation and rehabilitation of the Wazir Khan Mosque 85-meter long northen façade with financial assistance from the Norwegian Government and AKTC, and with facilitation by the Walled city of Lahore Authority began in September 2014 and is expected to be completed by June 2016. This undertaking entails the reclamation of the original street level, adaptive reuse of the restored hujras as shops to be let out for controlled commercial activities by the Walled city of Lahore Authority, illumination of the façade and rehabilitating the northern façade in such a manner that it forms a template for the conservation of the entire mosque when the latter is put into effect.
- Conservation of Chowk Wazir Khan, an urban square measuring 1,000 square meters which lies adjacent to the Wazir Khan Mosque, as well as its eastern façade was initiated in the last quarter of 2015. With co-funding from the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, and faciliation of the Walled city of Lahore Authority, AKTC aims to reclaim the urban space by lowering the Chowk to its original level, excavating and restoring the eastern façade and hujras of the Wazir Khan Mosque, conserving two historic houses and detaching newly constructed elements abutting the mosque, excavating and conserving the Dina Nath Well and rehabilitating the urban open space for the benefit of the community. It is expected to be completed in 2017.
Picture Wall, Lahore Fort The ‘Picture Wall’ is a 450 meters long decorated section of Lahore Fort’s northern western exterior wall, with an average height of 15 meters. It runs from Hathi Pol (Elephant) Gate to Jahangir’s Quadrangle. Once exposed to the riverside, the Picture Wall was exquisitely decorated during the Mughal period in the reign of Jahangir in 1624 AD and completed under Shah Jahan’s reign in 1632 AD. The Picture Wall stands out as an example of the highest standards of craftsmanship. It is arguably the worlds’s largest mural of this nature and is the main reason for the Lahore Fort being declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has been largely unattended since 1920. The mosaics do not form a continuous narrative. However, each individual mosaic gives us an insight into the life and entertainment in the royal courts – such as battles, animal fights, angels and demons, fairies, dance, music and geometric patterns through embellished brickwork, glazed tile and faience mosaics, filigree work and painted lime plaster. The wall is divided into recessed panels with painted or filigreed borders; brackets and eaves are in carved sandstone and marblework. With financial assistance from the Norwegian Government and AKTC and with facilitation by the Walled City of Lahore Authority, the project aims to document, present and promote the western section of the Picture Wall which spans 110 meters in length and 15 meters in height. Documentation and study is being done in order to arrive at a proper methodology for and set the stage for a cycle of conservation that is in consonance with the highest standards.