Suri, Khilji mosques: forgotten masterpieces of architecture

Sher Shah Suri Mosque consists of a library with 300 invaluable manuscripts

Fahad Zulfikar February 01, 2017
Sher Shah Suri Mosque

SARGODHA: Every locality in Bhera town has a building that dates back to the historical period. Consisting of a large number of Hindu and Sikh monuments, some buildings of the mughal period also grace the landscape of Bhera town. There are many historical mosques in the town of which those belonging to Tughlaq, Khilji and Suri periods are quite prominent.

One of the well known mosques situated in the area is Sher Shah Suri Mosque.

Unique structure

In 1541, Sher Shah Suri, the founder of Sur Empire in North India, built a mosque and named it ‘Sher Shah Suri Mosque’. The mosque consists of three domes and arched entrances that are most imposing and remarkable for their geometric designs.

However, the mosque is entirely different from others built by Sher Shah Suri in different cities which are noted for their intricate design and decoration.

After the death of Sher Shah Suri, the later rulers renovated and reconstructed some parts of the mosque. They also added new sections to the structure. However, the mosque was damaged during the battle in early 17th century between the mughals and Sikh forces.  In 1860, mughal ruler Qazi Ahmeduddin Bugvi rebuilt the mosque as it lay in a dilapidated condition. He also built two halls for learning Qura’an and Hadith. Besides, a boarding house was also constructed for students. Later in 1926, the mosque was repaired by Qazi Zahoor Ahmed Bugvi.

Mosque built by Khilji rulers in a shambles. PHOTO: FILE

In later years, a library and the Bhera Information and Research Centre was established in the outer premises of Sher Shah Suri Mosque. The library was built with original architectural design and consists of 300 invaluable manuscripts with a copy of Aaeen-i-Akbari and 10 copies of Qura’an from that period.

In ruins

Despite being in a shambles, the mosques in Bhera still retain their old grandeur. One such mosque in Sheikhawanwala Mohallah is noted for its monumental gate which was built by Khilji rulers. It is still standing tall despite harsh weather conditions and lack of government in restoring it to its former glory.

Historians say 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 mughal rulers after they conquered the sub-continent.

The mosque consists of three elegant domes and two massive turrets which add beauty to the structure.

A few years back, the front of the mosque was whitewashed but traces of the original decorative work on the walls particularly it’s main gate are still visible.

The two octagonal towers on either side of the gate reflect the typical early mughal style.

The boundary walls of the mosque look like a fortress reflecting the typical Central Asian style of mosque building.

The government renovated the structure some time back that damaged the original beauty of the mosque. Formerly, the exterior wall was decorated with paintings but now they have vanished.

However, there are still some paintings visible on the inner walls of the mosque.

What people say

Imran Ali, a resident of Bhera Tehsil, told The Express Tribune, “Sher Shah Suri Mosque is one of its kind and unique in many ways.” He added, “People from far-flung areas come here and offer prayers.” He said the mosque is the identity of this locality.

Another resident 60-year-old Sartaj Mehtab said, “I have been living in this area for almost 20 years and this mosque is a favourite tourist attraction.”

He said, “People do not have information about this structure but when they come to know about it, the curiosity force them to visit the place.”

Similarly, Faqeer Hussain, a visitor who had come from Sukkur to visit the mosque, said, “I come here each year with my family to meet my relatives. I visit the mosque and offer prayers and this gives me internal satisfaction.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2017.


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