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Deep in the deserts of Pakistan, is a beautiful mosque shrouded in legend and mystery.
It was commissioned in the village of Bhong, about an hour’s drive from Rahim Yar Khan by Rais Ghazi Mohammad, a landowner of great repute, in the 1930s.
He wanted to build a mosque without equal – and many say he succeeded in that the Bhong mosque stands unrivaled in its splendor.
The legend goes each time construction was halted someone would die mysteriously, so the building went on.
Understood to have been completed in 1982, ornamental touches continued to be added to ward off the “evil eye”.
The mosque’s architecture is truly unique in that it has Persian, Andalusian and Ottoman influences.
A marvel of the 20th century it was finally acknowledged when it won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1986.
Words rarely do sufficient justice to wonderful sights but if there are words to describe the majesty of the Bhong mosque they are these penned by Tim Bright in Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper:
“A marvel of the 20th century, it was finally acknowledged when it won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1986.
The Bhong Mosque is all the more remarkable for its anonymity; while anyone with an interest in Islamic architecture culture may have heard of it, the building is all the more remarkable for how unknown it is in the mainstream of Pakistan society.
The exterior of the mosque is relatively utilitarian — a courtyard of white terrazzo is shaded by a multi-domed blue and white canopy. Nevertheless, it was much more colorful than a usual mosque’s outdoor prayer area.
Beyond the prayer area is where the medley of color really became apparent: the azure and gold onion-like domes and the Technicolor minarets, from where the Azaan (call for prayers) rings out five times a day.
At the end of the balcony is an oversized white marble Quran, open to the world as a sort of invitation to prayer and salvation.
Walking the final few meters up the entrance gave nothing away — the mosque is surrounded by plainly-painted mud brick walls obscuring the view.
A sharp turn off to the left leads into the mosque’s courtyard, and the visitor is bathed in a surreal light.
Inside the mosque itself, no surface was left untouched by artisans over the years, resulting in a pastiche that has to be seen to be believed.
The breathtakingly intricate Mihrab (a semicircular niche in the wall indicating the Qibla) is beset by a poster featuring the entire Quran transcribed on a single parchment.
Ivory, marble, onyx and mirrors dotted the ceiling, from which elaborate glass chandeliers hang. The walls were crafted out of polished marble brought from Multan and India.
There are giant, carved teak doors drawn by wrought iron handles, shaped into the name ‘Muhammad’ (PBUH).
To see such a passionate expression of love of faith is enough to bring tears to the eyes”.