Sunday, 1 April 2012

Bhong Mosque Sadiqabad, Rahimyar Khan



Muslims all over the world display their love for their religion by designing and constructing beautifully architectured mosques. From Sofia Mosque in Turkey to mosques in Isphan in Iran and mosques built during the Mogul period in the Indian subcontinent. Pakistan abounds in some of the most eye catching mosques in the world, mostly built in the Mogul period by various emperors, like the Badshahi Mosque, Masjid Wazir Khan, Shah Jahan Mosque, Masjid Mahabat Khan and the recently built Faisal Mosque. But these mosques were built be emperors who could afford to build these majestic structure. But there is one mosque in the remote town of Sadiqabad near Rahim Yar Khan, that was not only built by a faithful of Islam, but which also ranks as one of  the most beautiful mosques in the world for its exquisite design and architectural beauty with gold leaves carved for the intricate decorative patterns and the stylish calligraphic work.


The Bhong Mosque was constructed by Sardar Rais Ghazi Mohammad, a prominent social and political personality as well as the landlord of a large estate, in 1932 in village Bhong, Tehsil Sadiqabad, District Rahim-Yar Khan. This mosque is located at the distance of 200 kilometres from Bahawalpur. In order to immortalize the mosque, Sardar Rais brought craftsmen, artisans and calligraphers from Lahore, Iran, Spain and Turkey. The material and craft used in the construction of the mosque include traditional styles (teak, ivory, marble, coloured glass, onyx, glazed tile work, fresco, mirror work, gilded tracery, ceramic, calligraphic work and inlay), modern and synthetic marbleized industrial tile, artificial stone facing, terrazzo, coloured cement tile and wrought iron). The mosque was initially a Complex consisted of a small mosque but was later converted to a prayer hall and a library for women, madrassa and residential dormitories for students and visitors.


Over the 50 years of its evolution, the Bhong Mosque Complex has generated jobs and trained approximately 1000 workers and craft men in indigenous crafts. Its construction laid an edifice for socio-economic development and provision of basic amenities of life including market roads, schools, electricity, gas, bank, hospital, post office etc. to the local population. For the most beautiful and singular effort to produce an exquisite architecture and in recognition of his significant sole attempt to create a local Islamic Centre of learning and building crafts, the 1986 Agha Khan Award of Architecture was awarded by His Highness Prince Karim Agha Khan to Sardar Rais Ghazi Mohammad. In the words of the Jury "Bhong enshrines and epitomizes the popular taste in Pakistan with all its vigour, pride, tension and sentiment. Its use, and misuse of signs and symbols expresses appropriate growing pains of an architecture in transition." The President, Islamic Republic of Pakistan has posthumously conferred upon Sardar Rais Ghazi Muhammad, "SITARA-I-IMTIAZ" on March 23, 2004 on Pakistan Day for his outstanding contribution to the field of Public Service (Bhong Mosque Architecture).


Since conference of award, the Mosque has become a site of interest for architects from all over the world. "To many architects and intellectuals, the Bhong Mosque complex is a product that negates the very purpose of an architectural enterprise rooted in the deep understanding of the culture," writes steering committee member and architect Ismail Serageldin. "To many others, it is a wonderful, exuberant structure that evokes an almost palpable joie de vivre, and that represents a bow to the prevailing taste of its users," stated (along with the majority's final thoughts and statements) by Hans Hollein and the Turkish architect Mehmet Doruk Pamir in their work. Much more have been written by the international architectural press about the mosque that is a thing of beauty. 







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