|Sheikh Musa Ahangar's Shrine|
The shrine of this celebrated 15th century saint is located west of Mcleod Road, one mile from the walled city. Traveling north towards the Railway Station on Mcleod Road, you will find the shrine in a street beyond Chowk Qilla Gujjar Singh (the crossing of Nicholson, Mcleod and Flemming Roads). Approaching on foot through the narrow street on the left (west) known as Chiragh Din Street, the entrance to the shrine is through an old arched gateway on the right, which carries a plaque saying 'Mazar Sharif Hazrat Sheikh Musa Ahangar' (Tomb of Sheikh Musa Ahangar). Beyond the gateway is a courtyard habited by large trees, and the ponderous 16th century tomb looms large as you enter the courtyard.
In the centre of the rectangular courtyard, one finds the square tomb chamber pierced with openings on three sides. On the western side is a rectangular projection containing the mihrab, while the northern and eastern openings have been covered with screens formed with small bricks. A small door with a big marble block threshold, of recent vintage, gives access to the tomb chamber.
The shrine, thought to be
constructed sometime between 1519 and 1560, is the earliest example
of an extant original structure of construction of the Mughal period
at Lahore. The tomb is the only surviving example of pre-Shahjahani
tile work at Lahore. This unique specimen represents the
transitional period of architecture between the Multan School of
architecture and the Lahore School of architecture. It retains the
earliest specimen of decoration in glazed style of Multani origin.
The building, with a simple square plan form, is constructed with thin Mughalai bricks. The thickness of the walls is about five feet which, in the Multani tradition, are slightly tapering. Externally, the monotony of the walls is broken by double storeyed blind windows flanking the central windows. There is a three feet high parapet above the roofline which has been interrupted over the northern edge of the western side to facilitate a ladder.
The dome, over fifteen feet in diameter, is slightly shouldered. It rests over a cylindrical neck. The phase of transition has been effected initially by means of four bigger niches built at upper corners of the chamber, making it into an octagon over which sixteen niches have been built to accommodate another ring of thirty two smaller niches above. Spearhead brackets have been placed under the corners of these smaller niches as a transition between them and the larger sixteen niches below. On the outside, the dome of the shrine has been covered with wedge-shaped bricks of turquoise blue color set horizontally. There is a projecting band containing arch-like mouldings in terracotta separating the neck from the dome. The neck has been covered with square tiles in lapis lazuli shade placed diagonally and bordered with projecting bands of more turquoise blue tiles. The portion of the walls above the blind windows have been covered with resembling tiles. The lower portions have been left plain to show the fine patterns used in the laying of bricks. The body of the building is composed of inset panels with cusped arches, which, in the manner of Mughal buildings, were, as witnessed by Latif, once decorated with enameled green ceramic tiles. Today, however, the interior and exterior wall surfaces have been white-or color washed, except for the top part of the interior surface of the dome. Multiple arrangement of corner quenches, embellished with fresco paintings, is used in the transitional zone transforming the square of the chamber to the circle of the dome.
The interior has been lit by natural light through the door and the other two screened arches. There is also a window above each opening. The underside of this single dome has been painted with eight ribs forming an eight-pointed star having roundels in between the corners. Internally, the windows have been bordered with fine calligraphic verses from the Holy Quran written in Tughra characters, in raised letters, of solid masonry. The sides have intricate floral and geometric patterns in similar raised moulding. The saint himself lies buried in a grave on a raised platform faced with marble tiles. Unfortunately no ancient inscription is extant.
Although the tomb seems not as well looked after as some others, an air of sanctity pervades the environment, reinforced by the original character of the tomb (untouched by modernizing efforts) and the old trees in the enclosure, contributing to the exclusive and peaceful ambiance of the shrine.
The compound of the shrine contains many graves. On the northeastern corner under a raised platform is a basement where there are two graves of ladies - one of them being that of a Hindu lady converted to Islam after witnessing a miracle performed by the saint. A small arched opening gives access to the graves chamber. Above this chamber, there are identical grave marks.
Sheikh Musa Ahangar flourished during the Lodhi period and was held in great esteem by the people. He acquired the appellation Ahangar (ironsmith) because of his occupation as a blacksmith. Sheikh Abu Bakr, author of the Tazkira-e-Kutbul Alam relates many of the miracles performed by the saint. One famous miracle was when once a Hindu woman of great beauty brought him a spindle, to get it straightened. The sheikh put it on the fire to work it out, but was so much struck by her beauty that he fixed his eyes upon her face. The woman, suspecting ill motives on the part of the sheikh, tauntingly observed, "What is there in my face that you are looking at? You seem to have forgotten your work." The sheikh replied, "I am only contemplating the Maker's skill, who modelled so beautiful a shape as yours, and if I had any ill motives towards you, here is the red hot spindle, I will put it in my eyes. If I have looked on you in bad faith, let them be roasted." Saying this he passed the burning spindle over both his eyes. They were unhurt, while the iron spindle, by coming in contact with the saint's eyes, was changed into gold. The woman, on seeing this miracle, was convinced of the innocence of the sheikh's intention and was so deeply impressed with the truth of his faith that she forthwith became a convert to Islam.
Abul Fazl, the court historian of Akbar mentions him as "a smith (ahangar) [who] performed many miracles. He died in the beginning of Akbar's reign, and was buried in Lahore."