The Badshahi Mosque (Urdu: بادشاہی مسجد) or the ‘Royal Mosque’ in Lahore, commissioned by the sixth Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1671 and completed in 1673, is the second largest mosque in Pakistan and South Asia and the fifth largest mosque in the world. Epitomising the beauty, passion and grandeur of the Mughal era, it is Lahore’s most famous landmark and a major tourist attraction. Capable of accommodating 5,000 worshippers in its main prayer hall and a further 95,000 in its courtyard and porticoes, it remained the largest mosque in the world from 1673 to 1986 (a period of 313 years), when overtaken in size by the completion of the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad.
Today, it remains the second largest mosque in Pakistan and South Asia and the fifth largest mosque in the world after the Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) of Mecca, the Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (Prophet’s Mosque) in Medina, the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca and the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad. To appreciate its large size, the four minarets of the Badshahi Mosque are 13.9 ft (4.2 m) taller than those of the Taj Mahal and the main platform of the Taj Mahal can fit inside the 278,784 sq ft (25,899.9 m2) courtyard of the Badshahi Mosque, which is the largest mosque courtyard in the world. In 1993, the Government of Pakistan recommended the inclusion of the Badshahi Mosque as a World Heritage Site in UNESCO’s World Heritage List, where it has been included in Pakistan’s Tentative List for possible nomination to the World Heritage List by UNESCO
Mosque under Mughal Rule (1673-1752)
When it was completed in 1673, the Badshahi Mosque was not only the largest mosque in the Mughal Empire, but also the largest mosque in the world – a record it would hold for 313 years until 1986. It was also one of the largest buildings in the Mughal Empire and the world. On a clear day, it could be seen from a distance of 15 km. The Badshahi Mosque elevated Lahore to greater political, economic and cultural importance in the Mughal Empire.
Mosque under Pakistan (1947-present)
Restoration work at the Mosque continued after Lahore became part of the new Muslim State of Pakistan on 14 August 1947. By 1960, the Badshahi Mosque stood restored to its original condition at a total cost of 4.8 million rupees (1939–1960). The Government of Pakistan established a small museum inside the Main Gateway Entrance of the Mosque.
It contains relics of the Prophet Muhammad, his cousin Ali, and his daughter, Fatimah, donated by the Fakir family of Lahore who occupied high posts during Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s rule. On the occasion of the 2nd Islamic Summit held at Lahore on February 22, 1974, thirty-nine heads of Muslim states offered their Friday prayers in the Badshahi Mosque, including, among others, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Sabah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah of Kuwait. The prayers were led by Mawlānā Abdul Qadir Azad, the then Khatib of the Mosque.
In 1993, the Government of Pakistan recommended the inclusion of the Badshahi Mosque as a World Heritage Site in UNESCO’s World Heritage List, where it has been included in Pakistan’s Tentative List for possible nomination to the World Heritage List by UNESCO. In 2000, the marble inlay in the Main Prayer Hall was repaired. In 2008, replacement work on the red sandstone tiles on the Mosque’s large courtyard commenced, using red sandstone especially imported from the original source near Jaipur, Rajasthan, India.