Aleena Imran has an MBA from NUST and has worked as an HR professional at companies like MPCL, Coke, Jazz, and LMKT. In her spare time, she runs her home-based baking business. Apart from being an avid reader, she enjoys writing, photography, and art.
The Shah Jahan Mosque is located in eastern Thatta, the capital of Sindh in the 16th and 17th centuries before Sindh’s capital was shifted to nearby Hyderabad. It is located near the Makli graveyard, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site is approximately 100 kilometres from Karachi, and is now one of the most important landmarks of Sindh.
Construction started in 1644, and the mosque was completed in a mere three years, in 1647. The mosque was commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a gift for the people of the area, since they showed him immense hospitality when he was seeking refuge from his father. It cost 9 lakh rupees at the time.
The Shah Jahan Mosque is a magnificent example of Mughal architecture, which is characterized by its grandeur, elegance, and symmetry. The mosque is built entirely of red brick and decorated with blue tiles, giving it a striking appearance. It has 100 domes (the largest number in Pakistan), with 6 big domes, and the remaining smaller in size. It also has 33 arches, and interestingly, does not have a single minaret.
The foundation of the mosque is 12ft–15ft deep, and there are a total of five entrances. Moreover, the mosque can accommodate a massive 20,000 people at a time! The mosque has been designed in a special way to amplify the sounds (above 100 decibels) – which people believe can be attributed to the large number of domes. The prayers, recitations, and speeches of the royal Khateeb/Imam Janab Allama Qari Hafiz Abdul Basit Siddiqui would resound throughout the mosque without the need for any speaker systems.
Moreover, the vents and airways throughout the mosque were designed in a way to ensure that every corner was well-ventilated. The Shah Jahan Mosque’s architectural style is overtly influenced by Turkic and Persian styles. The mosque is characterized by extensive brickwork and the use of blue tiles, both of which were directly influenced by Timurid architectural styles from Central Asia − from where the previous rulers of Sindh, the Tarkhans, had hailed before the region was annexed by the Mughals in 1592.
Stylish floral patterns, akin to the 17th century Kashi work of Iran, decorate the spandrels of the main arches, and elsewhere geometrical designs on square tiles are in a series of panels. The mosque is not only an important religious site but also a cultural landmark of Pakistan. It is a popular tourist destination and attracts visitors from all over the world.
The mosque is a symbol of the rich cultural heritage of Sindh and a testament to the skills of the Mughal architects and craftsmen. The Shah Jahan Mosque has undergone several restoration projects to restore and maintain its original beauty. In 1993, the mosque was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which helped to further raise awareness of its cultural significance.
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