The Badshahi Mosque in Lahore

Built by Emperor Aurangzeb in 1673, the Badshahi is the largest Mughal-era mosque and is the second-largest mosque in Pakistan.

Unlike most Mughal Emperors, Aurangzeb was not a great patron of the arts. He spent most of his time focused on military conquests. This mosque was built to commemorate his campaigns in southern India, in particular against the Maratha king Shivaji.

This mosque takes its architectural cues from the Jama Mosque in Delhi (photo below) built by Aurangzeb’s father, Shah Jahan, who in turn took his architectural cues from the Persian style. Both mosques feature red sandstone with white marble inlay.

I first visited in 2018 when I went Lahore to photograph some of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture’s restoration work in the Walled City. Visiting in the early morning the mosque, crowned by its iconic onion shaped domes, was shrouded in mist with barely a soul in sight.

It was a joy exploring the mosque for an hour or so without anyone around. And equally fascinating to see it start to fill up. I missed seeing the whole courtyard full of people. That would be pretty special, especially from above. Hopefully next time.

The Badshahi Mosque from above
The Badshahi Mosque from above
The entrance to the mosque in the early morning mist
An early morning visit
The walls that form the courtyard where people come to pray
The Badshahi Mosque built by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb
The Jama Mosque in Delhi built by Aurangzeb’s father Shah Jahan. You can see the similarities between the two mosques.
A man cleaning the floors before worshippers arrive
On of the beautiful hallways
Worshippers begin to arrive
Praying and reading before the Mihrab
Praying before the Mihrab
One of the hallways
Two men at prayer
One of the faithful
One of the faithful, I wish I could remember his name
This kind man gives free lessons to orphans at the mosque
Another shot of the lesson
Two men gaze out at the courtyard
Two men catch up in the courtyard
The entrance later in the day
And in the late afternoon
Sunset over the Badshahi mosque. Shez Raja, a jazz musician got in touch with me to ask if he could use this photo on the front cover of his album, I can’t wait to see it!