Mehrab Wali Mosque

This historical but overly renovated 17th century mosque is located to the east of Garhi Shahu near the Railway Stadium. It is situated on Nawazish Street, accessed from Mughalpura Road. The original mosque was built by Nawab Jafar Khan, who held the title of haft-hazari or Commander of seven thousand during the reign of Shah Jahan. His father, Nawab Sadiq Khan (d. 1619), was an important noble in the court of Jahangir.

Mehrab wali MosqueNawab Jafar Khan built the mosque for his spiritual saint Syed Aaram Mehmood, who is buried in the courtyard of the mosque. The building itself was of quite peculiar style and construction. It was built about 15 feet above the surrounding country by raising the ground purposefully to prevent damage from floods. Access is obtained by a flight of steps to the south. Presently, the mosque has been completely reconstructed, however portions of the western wall can still be seen from a narrow street to the west of the mosque. Also preserved is the original mehrab from which the mosque derived its name in recent times. The construction is interesting because it had a small rectangular room in the form of a mehrab in the western wall. The actual mehrab, however, was along the western wall of this rectangular room and therefore the mosque has been referred to as having two mehrabs. The imam stood in the mehrab at the very front and the rectangular portion immediately behind the imam was reserved for the Nawab's family while the public utilized the prayer chamber at the back.

The courtyard of the mosque was also walled and within this enclosure were the graves of Jafar Khan (d. 1659) and his son Kazim Khan, along with the grave of Syed Aaram Mehmood. It was because of this, the building is referred to as the Hujra of Nawab Jafar Khan in earlier writings.

During the time of Latif, much of the original structure was still standing, however the northern and eastern walls had fallen due to heavy rains during the reign of Maharaja Sher Singh, half a century earlier. Presently, the mosque is under the care of descendants of Muhammed Nawazish Ali Shah, whose splendid mausoleum stands in the courtyard. The caretaker of the mosque informed me that area remained abandoned until 1905 and there was a thick growth of bamboo trees here. In 1905, Muhammed Nawazish Ali Shah came here after having seen Syed Aaram Mehmood in a dream asking him to come re-establish this mosque. Nawazish Ali had the area cleared of the overgrowth and revived the mosque and the shrine of Aaram Mehmood. He died in 1948 and was buried in the courtyard at the foot of Aaram Mehmood's grave. A fine mausoleum with two domes was built over the graves of Aaram Mehmood and Nawazish Ali Shah in 1952 by their disciples. There are a number of other graves in the complex and hidden among them, between the walls of the modern constructions is the domeless grave of the founder of this mosque, Nawab Jafar Khan.

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