Historical mosques of Bhera

The Bhera town mosques of Tughlaq, Khilji and Suri periods are quite prominent

Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro February 04, 2011

“Every mohallah (locality) of Bhera town has a building that can boast of belonging to a historical period; like many Hindu and Sikh monuments, a number of buildings of the Muslim period also grace the landscape of Bhera town,” says Professor Yousuf Chauhan, a teacher of Bhera Town.

There are many historical mosques in Bhera town of which the mosques of Tughlaq, Khilji and Suri periods are quite prominent, he said.

The list of historical mosques in Bhera is long. Qazianwali mosque, Haafizani mosque, Peeranwali mosque, Gondianwali mosques, Hakimwali mosque, Jamia Masjid Mohajirin in Pakhiwaran Mohallah are some of Bhera town’s well known historical mosques.

The mosques of Khilji and Suri period still retain their old grandeur. The Khilji mosque in Sheikhawanwala Mohallah is noted for its monumental gate. According to another historian of the town, Prof Riaz Hussain, the mosque located in Sheikhanwala Mohallah was built by the Khiljis. But its architecture appears to be of Mughal period. It is likely that the mosque was rebuilt by the Mughals.

The mosque is noted for its elegant three domes and two turrets which add beauty to the structure. The façade of the mosque is now whitewashed but one can still see traces of the original decorative work on the walls particularly its main gate. The two octagonal towers on either side of the gate reflect the typical early Mughal style.

However, the local people associate this mosque to the Khiljis. The boundary walls of the mosque look like a fortress reflecting the typical Central Asian style of mosque building. The renovation work has damaged the original beauty of the mosque. Formerly, the mosque had a painted exterior. However, there are still some paintings inside the mosque.

Another mosque believed to have been built by Sher Shah Suri in 1541, the year that is inscribed on the entrance, has also been renovated. The mosque has three domes and arched entrances. But this mosque is entirely different from the one built by Sher Shah Suri at Rohtas which is noted for its intricate decoration.

Sher Shah Suri was a great builder. He is believed to have built many forts, mosques, baolis, sarais (inns) and tombs. However, the most commendable was the Great Trunk (GT) Road. He also excavated baolis (stepped wells) and built sarais on the GT Road for the travellers and his soldiers.

The Jamia Masjid of Bhera was rebuilt by Qazi Ahmeduddin Bugvi in 1860 and later on repaired by Qazi Zahoor Ahmed Bugvi in 1926. The name of the mason, Muhammad Asif, is also mentioned in the inscription.

“The foundation of the mosque is original, of Sher Shah Suri period, whereas the superstructure was rebuilt by Ahmeduddin Bugvi. He also built two halls, Quran and Hadith, lying north of the mosque; two minarets and boarding houses are also there for students,” says Sahibzada Abrar Ahmed, the Khatib of the mosque. The three arch entrances of the halls are most imposing and remarkable for their geometric designs.

With the help of Zahid Mumtaz, Sahibzada Abrar Ahmed has set up a library and the Bhera Information and Research Centre at the mosque. The library has the original architectural design of the mosque and 300 invaluable manuscripts with a copy of Aaeen-i-Akbari and 10 copies of Quran from that period. These manuscripts on the Suri and Mughal periods are very useful for research workers.

Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro A research anthropologist at Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), Islamabad.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


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