|Dai Anga Mosque|
This Mughal mosque is situated in the Naulakha area,
southeast of the fortress-like railway station. You
can approach it from the railway station, but it
might be simpler to travel northeast on Nicholson
Road from Qila Gujjar Singh Chowk, and continue
straight across Allama Iqbal Road (formerly Mayo
Road), past the Presbyterian Church and Boharwala
comparatively narrow road veers left, terminating in
a dead end at a gate guarding the railway platform
beyond the fence.
Passing through the gate one is overawed by the magnificent structure of Dai Anga's mosque. Although a lot of restoration work has been carried out on the building—much appears to belong to later-period restorative efforts—it cannot take away from the magnificence of the original structure.
The design of the mosque is based on a single-aisle 3-bay plan form—a comparatively simplified version of the spectacular mosques built by the Mughals. The prayer chamber is divided into three compartments by means of lateral arches. The central bay, larger than the others, has exceptionally rich decoration. The usual arched recess sunk deeply into the western wall serves as the mihrab. It is crowned, like its flanking counterparts, with a high double dome placed on squinches composed of eight small arched panels. The side bays, less elaborately decorated, have double domes resting on pendentives. The central compartment has a pronounced projection created by means of an engrailed arch and a half-dome embellished with tiled panels. The projected frame is marked with slender pilasters on either corner, while at the two eastern corners of the prayer chamber are square minarets surmounted with a carved platform on which once rested the kiosk.
The exterior surface of the projection, as well as
the flanking compartments, have been divided into
numerous decorative panels of various shapes, sizes,
and designs and filled with fluoridate patterns
created by means of mosaic kashi. The dominant
colours used in the tilery, here as well as in the
interior panels, are blue, orange, and yellow.
The treatment of facade into panels,
embellished with scintillating multicoloured tile
mosaic, a favourite decorative medium during Shah
Jahan's days, yields one of the most spectacular
facades of the period.
The domes are plastered, but possess pronounced
cavettos, reminiscent of similar treatment at the
Moti Mosque of Lahore Fort. A 19'
diameter dome in the middle flanked by two 16'
domes, along with corner minarets, adds to the
imposing character of the mosque. The central lofty
Timurid aiwan alcove, flanked by two smaller ones, as
embellished as the facade, along with their
decorative kalib kari or stalactite squinches
represent the best of the Shahjahani Period.
It is believed that the mosque was built in 1045
AH/1635 AD, before Dai Anga went to perform Hajj.
However, the inscription in the mosque is said to
date it to 1060 AH/1649 AD. The mosque was
well-maintained and frequented by worshippers, due
to the waqf (bequest) by Dai Anga of her extensive
property for the maintenance of the mosque. Once the
Mughal Empire declined, this mosque, along with many
other Mughal monuments, did duty as Ranjit Singh's
military magazine. After the annexation of the
Punjab by the British, Henry Cope, editor of the
newspaper 'Lahore Chronicle' must have been pleased
to have been allowed its use as his residence.
However, later when the area, once known as Mohallah
Dai Anga and populated by Mughal nobility, was
acquired by the Punjab and Delhi Railway Co., Cope
sold the mosque-residence to them for Rs. 12,000,
and they converted it into the office of the traffic
manager, Punjab Northern State Railway.