Even a casual visitor is struck with awe when he happens to visit Masjid Mahabat Khan. The magnificent 17th century Mughal era mosque is located in the narrow street of the famous Ander Sheher bazaar now known as jewellery market. It was built by Mahabat Khan, a powerful general in the Mughal army, statesman and governor of Peshawar during the rule of Shah Jehan and Aurangzeb Alamgir. Named after its builder, Mahabat Khan, as he used to fund and look after it, the biggest mosque of the historic city stands today proudly not only as a splendid Mughal tasteful architecture but also bespeak as an emblem of the Mughal king`s religiosity. The Mughal taste is reflected in the colours and designs manifested in the ornamentation work done all over the structure.

Experts have yet to determine the exact date of its completion in the absence of any epigraphically established details but most believe that it might have been completed in 1670 during the last days of emperor Aurangzeb`s reign. Once located on the highest point of the inner city, Masjid Mahabat Khan is now surrounded by busy markets and roads. Three raised entrances from east, north and south lead to the main structure of the mosque where a central ablution pond is surrounded by 15 low roofed cells and westward frontal prayer pad.

Rectangular in shape, the mosque is spread over an area of 30,155sq feet. Three beautiful fluted domes designed in cavettos and gilded finials with two minarets supported by a domed pavilion lend an attractive look to the mosque. The pavilion rests on a concave platform with screened railings. The minarets run high in three storeys that could be accessed with a thin flight of steps. Also there is a chain of low minarets  along the fortifications supporting the structure of the arched opening. The other five arched openings from eastern side lead into its five compartments.
All the compartments have deep arches in the depth of the western wall to serve as pulpit. Arches bisecting the compartments stand on high wharfs. The central compartment supporting the main pulpit has much deeper arch. The frontal exterior and interior have panels of different shapes and sizes decorated with mural paintings, and floral patterns coupled with Quranic verses sprinkled all through pillars, ceiling, inner walls and concave dome and background of the main pulpit.

The mosque has a strange story of being razed and plundered during Sikh rule. The top minarets were destroyed by a great fire in June 1895. Paolo Bartolomeo Avitabile (Abu Tabela), an Italian mercenary serving as governor of Peshawar under Ranjeet Singh used to hang a local tribesman each day at the top of the minaret. However, local faithfuls and later on the British rebuilt the historic mosque. During the late 80s renovation work was again undertaken but it failed miserably as the interior floral designs and fresco decoration have started uprooting. Also lime coat from frontal walls of the cells is fading away which needs immediate attention of the concerned officials to save it from environmental hazards.

Opinion

Law & processions
16 Oct 2021

Law & processions

It is up to the police to impose reasonable conditions on a procession.
Is the party over?
Updated 16 Oct 2021

Is the party over?

Many in PTI are concerned how they can hang on till the next elections.
The last fortress
Updated 16 Oct 2021

The last fortress

The state wants to use the social media rules to trample on the right to freedom of speech.
Reopening under Covid
15 Oct 2021

Reopening under Covid

It will be a challenge to deal with all students returning to classrooms and maintaining SOPs.

Editorial

Diminishing freedom
Updated 16 Oct 2021

Diminishing freedom

DESPITE the serious reservations of digital rights activists and tech companies, the federal government has...
16 Oct 2021

Dirty politics

IN her outburst against Prime Minister Imran Khan this week, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz may not have taken names but...
16 Oct 2021

Decreasing emissions

THE announcement by SAPM on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam that carbon emissions in the country came down by 9pc...
No need for NAB
Updated 15 Oct 2021

No need for NAB

THE National Accountability Bureau has sent instructions to its regional bureaus to stop processing cases that fall...
Forced conversions
Updated 15 Oct 2021

Forced conversions

THE majoritarian view has once again prevailed in the matter of bringing about legislation against forced conversion...
15 Oct 2021

Transgender rights

MEMBERS of the transgender community in the country are often at the receiving end of both their families’ and...