Mohabat Khan Mosque: Remnant of the Mughal era in Peshawar
The historic Mohabat Khan Mosque of Peshawar was built in 1670. It is the reflection of the majesty of the Mughal Empire due to its unique construction design. The mosque has been named after the governor of Peshawar Mohabat khan in the Mughal era. It was designed during Shah Jahan’s reign and completed in emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir’s times.
History and features of Mohabbat Khan Mosque
Mohabat khan was instrumental in financing and supervision of the structure. Due to its exquisite beauty, it is considered to be the greatest mosque constructed by Mughals after the Badshahi and Wazir khan mosques in Lahore. It can accommodate more than ten thousand persons and this number increases during Ramazan.
Mohabat Khan mosque is located in the oldest crowded area of Andar Shehar in Peshawar. Peshawar is the sixth-largest city of Pakistan, and one of the oldest cities of the country which recorded history dates back to 539 BCE. Mohabat Khan Mosque constructed on 30,155 sq. feet, is a masterpiece of architecture where people of the city find space for the purification of their souls through worships.
After passing, through shining jewelry shops, and the narrow entrance leading to a vast courtyard with a blue-tiled pond in the middle, presents a fascinating scene. The main prayer hall, in front of the courtyard, has two tall minarets on each side, with three beautiful fluted dooms and six decorative minarets between them. The huge Hall has 5 entry beautiful arched doorways and the interior of it, is excessively ornamented with calligraphy and floral work.
Stories of horror and plundering during Sikh rule
Mohabat Khan Mosque also has a sad story to tell. Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, occupied Punjab on 12th April 1801 at the age of only twenty-one and ruled till his death in June 1839. During the Sikhs occupation of Peshawar, the mosque was damaged and looted, precious ornamental plates and tiles were stolen.
An Italian governor of Peshawar, Paolo Bartolomeo Avitabile (Abu Tabela), serving under Maharaja Ranjeet Singh used to hang the local hostages every day from the top of the minaret, to frighten others through these horrible punishments. The Sikhs frequently used the minarets for giving the death penalty to those tribesmen who oppose them. The gigantic minarets of the mosques were also badly damaged by the fire in 1895 but the locals came to the rescue and saved the mosque from utter destruction. later on, during British rule, this momentous mosque was reconstructed and repaired.
A cultural Heritage
Every city of the world has a cultural heritage that reminds its people of the past glory to learn and reshape its future.
Today, Mohabat Khan Mosque stands with great elegance and grace among us, telling us proudly the story of globally acknowledged architectural achievements of the Muslims. No doubt, this magnificent mosque with its cool white special marbles, provides a peaceful environment for the locals to worship and practice spirituality.
But, Mohabat Khan Mosque also, has an awe-inspiring attraction for tourists and historians to visit this amazing gift of Mughals for the people of Peshawar and to enjoy its cultural, historical, spiritual and architectural value.
(Written by Ijaz Ali, a freelance journalist from Pakistan. He holds a Master’s Degree in European Studies from Germany and can be reached at [email protected])