The calligraphic inlays will resemble those of the Badshahi Masjid in Lahore. Tiles for indoor flooring will mirror the ones at Lahore’s Wazir Khan Masjid. Sandstone bricks for the courtyard are derivative of the orange-hued ones found in Multan.
A grand salad of popular architectural patterns in Pakistan, being built to accommodate up to 14,000 worshippers indoors, the under-construction mosque at Bahria Town, Lahore boasts of elaborate planning. The courtyard and corridor leading to the main halls of worship can accommodate another 14,000.
Faisal Masjid in Islamabad, the current largest mosque of Pakistan, can accommodate up to 10,000 worshippers indoors (shade area). While Badshahi Masjid in Lahore, the second largest, can accommodate 8,500 (shade area).
Nayyar Ali Dada, explaining the glimpse of Badshahi Masjid and Wazir Khan Masjid within the architecture of the new mosque said that it has been designed to capture the historical essence of Lahore and its surrounding cities. “The previous design was inspired by an Abu Dhabi mosque. I had that remodelled.”
The sandstone bricks for the exterior bear the characteristic orange hue. “The sands of Multan have an orange colour. While Lahore’s is more impure, which is why Multan’s sand was brought in to make the exterior bricks,” said Dada.
“We found some old craftsmen, while some new ones were trained to make geometric and floral patterned tiles. Not similar to those at Wazir Khan — but inspired by them,” said Dada.
Work on the mosque began about three years ago and between 800 and 1,000 labourers have been constantly working at the site ever since, says Waseem Ahmad, the general manager of Bahria Constructions. The cost of the building stands at over a billion rupees already, according to him.
The main, three-dimensional arched dome, at a height of 150 feet and will be embossed with floral inlays and Mughal-era calligraphy. Eight chandeliers, synchronised to make a mammoth chandelier, will be installed at the dome’s centre.
Eight different varieties of marble are being flown in to floor the ground immediately beneath the dome.
“This place will accommodate more worshippers indoors. The circular side of the mosque and a broad corridor connecting it with the courtyard has a basement as big. While eight balconies circle the main dome, largely increasing space of the covered area of the mosque,” said Ahmad.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2013.
Correction: An earlier version of this story mentioned unclear capacity figures for Faisal and Badshahi mosques. These figures have now been clarified.