LOWER DIR: Elders of Jandol area have demanded of the Auqaf department to declare a historical wooden mosque, Loi Masjid, in Mian Kalay area a heritage site and take measures for its preservation.
Bakht Rawan, 80, told Dawn that the Loi Masjid was built around 206 years ago during the rule of Ghazi Umra Khan (aka the Afghan Napoleon).
He said the mosque was an unexplored historical structure for standing in the little known Mian Kalay area.
The elder said the area was famous for trade in ancient times and attracted caravans from Afghan, Russian, Chinese and Indian regions.
“Mian Kalay used to be a large commercial centre,” he said.
Jandol elders say Loi Masjid should be declared heritage site
He said Ghazi Umra Khan (1860-1904) made Jandol a model state with his “wisdom, love and strength.”
The elders said the mosque’s prayer hall was built by Mansoor Ahmad Jan, one of the Sahibzadagan elders of Jandol, around 206 years ago, while its verandah was put up some 175 years ago during the rule of Ghazi Umra Khan.
They said the mosque was built with fine wood transported from Afghanistan and areas bordering the then State of Dir.
The fascinating woodwork is all over the place from walls to pillars to beams to doors to windows to ceiling to cupboards. Wooden ceilings and pillars have designs of Mughal-era Islamic architecture.
The imam said it was the area’s main mosque (jamia masjid), so more than 1,000 worshippers show up for Friday prayers. He said a special committee managed the mosque’s affairs.
Another elder said skilled craftsmen and carpenters were brought in from Peshawar to do up the mosque on Rs2.5 daily payment each.
Local journalist Noor Zaman said the mosque was a result of hard work.
“It is a wonderful piece of construction stunning today’s engineers,” he said.
He said the mosque’s prayer hall was re-built along modern architectural lines for expansion, while the verandah was left in original condition for the sake of historical importance.
“This mosque can be preserved if the Auqaf department declares it a heritage site,” he said.
Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2023