Built on a natural spring, Ilyasi Mosque bustles with people who come here to seek spiritual solace, drink the water of the stream that flows underneath and relish the spicy pakoras for which the mosque has become famous. The combination of these attractions have turned the mosque into a picnic spot of triple delight.
Now spread over five kanals, the mosque, constructed in 1932, was built on a small piece of land but the water of the stream which is said to have curative properties and serves as a cool drink on hot summer days made it a popular spot.
As a public place, it offered business opportunities which a pakora maker exploited to full advantage. The Ilyasi pakoras sell like hot cakes. If you find them too spicy the cool water of the stream is always there to sweeten the bite.
“Natural water has its own flavour and I’ve come here just to drink that” Muhammad Imran, a visitor from Gujranwala told The Express Tribune.
Arbab Azeem, another visitor from Lahore said the place had its own charm and beauty adding, “Every year, I bring my family here just to drink the stream water and enjoy the delicious pakoray, before heading off to other northern areas.”
According to Muhammad Akram Khan, an 85-year old local, the mosque was built before partition. Its grandeur increased with time due to the devotion of the people. Initially some Christians wanted to build a church here but the local population resisted the plan and built the Ilyasi mosque. Now the mosque and the surrounding area is controlled and owned by a Jadoon family. The natural stream has continued to flow for many years. Its water is used, not only for drinking purposes but also for irrigation by the local farmers.
Fazal Dad Khan Jadoon, popularly known as the ‘Ilyasi pakoraywala’ first set up his pakora stall in 1956. Now his sons and grandsons run the business.
Hafiz Sumair, a grandson of the old pakora maker told The Express Tribune “My grandfather set up the stall here, as people used to come here to drink the stream water and view the mosque. After drinking water, they felt like eating something savoury and that is when the idea of selling pakoras came to him.”
He said their daily sales average around Rs60 to 70,000. The shop has 18 waiters to serve the customers. He said the water is very digestive so the pakora lovers eat their fill and down the spicy treat with glasses of cool natural drink.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2011.