Peshawar: The historical Mahabat Khan mosque in Peshawar is in decrepit condition as authorities neglect repair and renovation work on the heritage site dating back to 17 century, say caretakers of the mosque.

:Photo by News Lens Pakistan/
:Photo by News Lens Pakistan/

“It is the one of the most important historical sites in the province, attracting tourists from all over the world who are disappointed at seeing the crumbling condition of this great mosque,” said Abdullah Mohtamim, the mosque’s caretaker.
Abdullah said that water taps of the ablution pond at the center of courtyard and in toilets of the mosque were out of order. The October 26, 2015, earthquake has damaged one of its minarets which could fall any time.

“It is constant threat to the safety of people praying in the mosque,” said Abdullah.
Built in 1660, the magnificent Mughal era Mahabat Khan mosque is located in the narrow street of the famous Ander Sheher (Inner city) bazar. The mosque is named after Nawab Mahabat Khan, a governor of Peshawar under the Mughal rulers of India. Khan was a powerful general in the Mughal army and a statesman during the reign of Shah Jehan and Aurangzeb Alamgir.
Salman Ali, a visitor from Rawalpindi, told News Lens Pakistan that the he was stunned to see the architecture of the mosque. He said it reflected the Mughal taste in its colours, design and floral artwork all over the structure.
“Historical sites like Mahabat Khan mosque represents the glory of Muslim past but sadly it’s shabby condition indicates neglect on part of concerned authorities towards such an important historical site,” said Ali.
After Sikh rulers invaded and conquered Peshawar in 1834, the mosque was vandalised. According to some historical accounts, the Sikhs used the minarets of the mosque to hang criminals from.
“Alongside Wazir Khan and Badshahi mosques in Lahore and Shahi Mosque in Thatta, Mahabat Khan Mosque is one of the finest examples of mughal architecture in Pakistan,” said Mateen Khan, another visitor at the Mahabat Khan mosque.
But unlike Wazir Khan, Shahi and Badshahi mosques, said Mateen Khan, Mahabat Khan’s structure is crumbling with the floral designs and lime coating on the walls peeling off.
Officials at the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Directorate of Archaeology, said restoration and reconstruction of the mosque fell within the remit of the Auqaf Department that is responsible for the management and administration of all religious buildings in the province. According to official record of Auqaf Department, the mosque has been under the department since 1949 which declared it a historical site in 1982.

:Photo by News Lens Pakistan/
:Photo by News Lens Pakistan/

Engineer Nadeem, Project Director at Auqaf Department, said the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) was actively involved in restoration and reconstruction of the mosque. He said the government had provided Rs 40 Million to the Auqaf Department under the Annual Development Programme 2015-16 for renovation and repair work at the Mosque.
“Auqaf Department is executing the project through executive engineering building division 2 Communications and Works (C&W) department which has already completed PC2 and PC-1 will be completed soon after hiring experts and engineers after which practical renovation and repair work at the Mosque will be start.”
He said that the main cause of delay in starting the work was lack of experts and engineers for the project as it was a complex historical structure that could not be repaired and renovated by ordinary engineers. Thus, he said, engineers will be hired from outside the country.
“The Chief Minister KP Pervez Khattak and Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Imran Khan are personally interested in the restoration of old glory of Mahabat Khan mosque as well as other historical buildings,” said Nadeem. “They have visited these sites provided funds for their restoration.”


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