The Badshahi mosque in Lahore was constructed on the orders of Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1671 and was completed in 1673. Akbar himself was a very great artist of mosques. In the times of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, this was the second largest mosque in Pakistan and the fifth largest mosque in the world. This mosque depicts the loveliness, the excellent architectural work and magnificence of the time Mughal Times. It is a piece of work which makes Lahore, now the provincial capital of Punjab, a province of Pakistan, the most attractive city to visit, especially for the tourists. The mosque is built in Iqbal Park, Lahore.
The total capacity of the mosque is 150,000 worshippers at one time, the breakup being 55,000 in the main hall and around 95,000 in the courtyard and porch. This was the largest mosque in the world for a period of 313 years, when finally, a plan was drawn to build the Faisal Mosque, in Islamabad which was completed and opened for people in 1986.
The mosque is marked with 8 minarets, 4 large and 4 small. The height of each minaret is 176 feet. The Badshahi mosque is the second largest mosque in Pakistan and South Asia and the fifth largest mosque in the World after Masjid Haram and Masjid-e-Nabvi. This mosque has been for the time being listed in the UNESCO as an UNESCO heritage at the request of the Pakistan Government.
The is situated in front of the Lahore Fort and is built on a raised height so that any flood that came in the River Ravi may not damage the mosque. The mosque has been built with bricks and compressed with clay. The configuration of the mosque was completed with red brickwork tiles. This material was brought in Lahore from Jaipur, a region in Rajasthan province in India. The domes of the mosque are built with white marble.
The construction of the mosque was supervised by Muzzaffar Hussain, Foster brother of Aurangzeb, who was appointed Governor of Lahore to supervise the construction of this great mosque and remained in this office till 1675.
During the British rule, the Badshahi Mosque was under the control of Sikhs, and the adjacent Fort was used as a military stronghold. The cells of the Fort were used by the Sikhs for storing military equipment. The British army demolished the cells, to avoid them to be used against the British army.
The British army started realizing the resentment of the Muslim community to use the mosque for military purpose and decided, in 1852, to handover the mosque to the Muslims. The repairs were started to make the mosque in the position foe the Muslims to use as a place of worship. Extensive repairs were carried out from 1939 onwards. The funds for this purpose were gathered under the supervision of the then Punjab Prime Minister Sir Sikander Hayat Khan
The plan of the mosque resembles to the one of Delhi Mosque which was built by Shah Jahan, the father of Aurangzeb. The design is the combination of Islamic, Persian, central Asian and Indian culture and heritage.
The main hall is separated into seven sections with round open doors. The prayer hall is embroidered with wall painting and inlaid sandstone. The various architectural facial appearances. the huge quadrangle patio, the Minarets and the impressive gate from where people enter the mosque are a marvelous piece to look at.
The renovation of the mosque from 1939 to 1960 made many change in the original construction because much of the work was damaged by the British army when it used the mosque for military purposes.