Synergy | Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan & Norway to assist Walled City of Lahore Authority to renovate Masjid Wazir Khan

Recently a delegation of Norwegian embassy headed by its Ambassador visited Masjid Wazir Khan and signed a MoU with the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) and Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCSP) for restoration and renovation of the monument.


By Ali Raza for The News – International. Posted Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The project also envisages restoration of Chowk Wazir Khan, a precisely designed urban open space, which is now lost to the encroachments stated above and to a host of inimical activities taking place in it (inappropriate steel fabrication, parking, unnecessary construction and reconstruction around other historic elements etc.), the ability of the citizenry to enjoy fully the spiritual and aesthetic benefit of a high value object from a religious as well as urban, architectural and art historical points of view.

Tanya Qureshi of the WCLA said the authority will facilitate the implementation of projects by providing full access to the mosque to AKCSP and provides assistance. She said since 400 years of existence, the street surface around it had gradually risen by almost two meters from the original street surface. This will be restored as the WCLA had already cleared 73 permanent encroachments from and around the site.

The Memoranda of Understanding (MOU)

Under the MoU, the scope of work included immediate restoration of 75 m long Northern Façade of the mosque including fully exposing facade which has been buried over due to successive raising of street level over the centuries by providing a retaining wall and lowering the street level in a narrow stretch along the mosque façade, repairs to facades and hujras, providing doors to repaired hujras, providing handrails, footpaths and access steps along the retaining wall and provision of rainwater drainage arrangements.

Sources said the estimated cost of renovation to secure northern façade is around Rs 11,989,500, which will be provided by Norwegian Embassy to AKCSP.

The Challenge

Sources maintained that Masjid Wazir Khan is facing serious threats due to indifferent management, lack of technical and financial resources, improper and inadequate conservation and needs immediate measures for renovation, preservation and conservation.

The mosque suffers from several instances of structural failure, a special report prepared by the WCLA revealed. It claimed that the serious threats being faced by the mosque are manifested in the leaning out of the four minarets, in the resultant structural cracks induced in the structure of the prayer chamber, in cracks caused by subsidence of southern flank of the courtyard due to water ingress from badly sited and maintained ablution and toilet facilities, from the prevention of the egress of water from roof tops, particularly because of the houses built against and on the top of the southern wall of the monument.

 About the Masjid Wazir Khan

Masjid Wazir Khan (Wazir Khan Mosque) was built in 1634-35 AD (1044-45 AH), by Hakim Aliuddin, subedar (governor) of the Punjab from 1632-1639 in the reign of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan. They said it was the largest mosque in Lahore at that time, with the Badshahi Masjid construction still fifty years away while superseding the Begum Shahi Mosque built in 1614 AD (1023 AH).

Wazir Khan Mosque is rectangular, with the four imposing minarets defining the corners of the main courtyard. The prayer chamber, courtyard, hujras, vestibule and bazaar constitute the main elements. The courtyard is flanked on the northern and southern side with 28 hujras and two pavilions facing each other across the width of the courtyard. An important feature of the entrance system of the mosque is a Calligrapher’s Bazaar that crosses the axis of entrance at a right angle, and is marked at this crossing with a large dewhri and a dome atop the same.

The mosque has a singular outstanding attribute that places it in the frontline of the major monuments of the world-the profuse architectural decorations that embellish its exterior and interior surfaces. The most predominant feature of the exterior of the mosque is its kashikari (glazed-tile mosaic work), known for its richness and the range of its artistic and technical breadth.

Via Norway to help renovate Masjid Wazir Khan –

About the Walled City of Lahore Authority

In the April 2012, the Government of Punjab passed the Walled City of Lahore Authority ACT and declared the Walled City of Lahore as an autonomous body to run the functions of the entire Walled City of Lahore.

Donors & Partners

The World Bank is the donor of SDWCLP. A loan agreement was signed between the Government of Punjab and the World Bank in June 2006, in which US$ 6.0 million was diverted from the World Bank credit for the Punjab Urban Development Sector.

The World Bank is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world. Our mission is to fight poverty with passion and professionalism for lasting results and to help people help themselves and their environment by providing resources, sharing knowledge, building capacity and forging partnerships in the public and private sectors.

AKTC ImageThe Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) focuses on the physical, social, cultural and economic revitalization of communities in the Muslim world. It includes the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme, the Aga Khan Music Initiative, the on-line resource and the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Museums & Exhibitions unit coordinates the development of a number of museum and exhibition projects.

AKDN’s programme in Pakistan is, in experiential terms, the most studied development programme in the Network. Many of the methods employed elsewhere by AKDN agencies, and replicated by other NGOs and governments, were tried first and then refined in Pakistan. AKDN’s earliest coordinated area development programme included community mobilisation, infrastructure development, microfinance lending and savings, agricultural programmes that encompass land reclamation, irrigation and forestry, curative health care, preventive community health schemes and world-class medical training, education from pre-primary to postgraduate levels, the introduction of clean-water supplies and sanitation facilities, the construction of mini hydro-electric plants in remote communities, and the restoration of historic buildings, monuments and housing. Activities are largely concentrated in the mountainous Northern Areas, North West Frontier (Chitral) and Baltistan provinces as well as in the Punjab, Baluchistan and Sind provinces.

Acknowledging the vast experience of AKTC, the government of Punjab in 2007, signed a Public Private Partnership with AKTC for getting their technical assistance in the Pilot Urban and Rehabilitation Project (Delhi Gate to Masti Gate).

The AKTC team helped in conducting several researches and studies, which laid the foundations of façade and infrastructure work. All the technical designs, being followed in the implementation of Pilot Project Package -1 have been prepared by AKTC.

In July 2012, the AKTC packed up the office from Lahore, but in January 2013, they were requested again to join the SDWCL project with their technical assistance. A MoU was signed on 18th April 2013 and AKTC was back.

AKTC is supporting the Walled City Authority in all the technical matters in terms of restoration and conservation work being carried out on the Royal Trail.

Discover, Explore and Learn more at Walled City of Lahore Authority and Walled City of Lahore Authority – Donors & Partners.

About the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) & Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCSP),

When it began working in the Northern Areas of Pakistan, in 1992, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC)’s restoration and revitalisation activities became the most visible part of a broad area development programme undertaken by AKDN agencies.

The Aga Khan Trust for Culture, through its local company Aga Khan Cultural Service – Pakistan (AKCS-P), engaged in reviving pride and identity through interventions in cultural heritage that supported social, physical and institutional development. In the 15 years of operation from 1992 to 2007, several key principles guided the revitalization efforts.

The first principle is that restoration must lead to the infusion of new life into historic landmark buildings, which makes them meaningful for the local communities and the users.

The second is that adaptive re-use of the restored building should lead to self-sustainability and allow for the generation of funds for maintenance and upkeep, to counter the risk of a restored site falling into disrepair.

The third principle is that the restoration of the building should not be seen in isolation. The landmark building acts as an entry point for development by helping to attract attention and resources. In recent times, AKCS-P has moved from first initiating work on a landmark building and then working on the context, to a more comprehensive strategy whereby community rehabilitation precedes restoration of the building.

The core theme underlying these three principles is that the architectural heritage of a region represents a valuable asset for human development–a potential which has to be properly acknowledged and activated at different levels of human existence, from the spiritual to the emotional and to the physical realm. There are important indirect benefits which can be obtained by using the built heritage components as a catalyst for wider social and physical upgrading of the surrounding environment.

These principles and the underlying core theme place the restoration of historic buildings in a much wider physical and socio-economic context that harnesses the active participation of local communities to not only restore buildings but undertake local skills enhancement and institutional capacity building as integral parts of each project.

pakistan_baltit_bigProjects include the restoration and re-use of the 700-year-old Baltit Fort, the 450-year-old Shigar Fort, the ongoing restoration work on perhaps the oldest fort in Hunza, the Altit Fort, and the architecturally resplendent Khaplu Palace in Baltistan; emergent repairs to landmark buildings to arrest further deterioration; rehabilitation and revitalisation of historic settlements in Hunza (Karimabad, Ganish, Altit) and in Baltistan (Chinpa, Halpapa, Hunduli).

AKTC has completed dozens of other restoration projects in Baltistan and Hunza, but the area remains a treasure trove of scores of shrines, forts, mosques and other buildings of cultural and historical significance. Most have fallen into ruin, but the potential still exists to use the experience of previous revitalization projects to convert this legacy into viable economic assets that lead to the creation jobs, economic stability and an improved quality of life Lahore Walled City Project and the Shalimar Gardens: AKTC is also involved in a revitalization of the Walled City of Lahore, in Punjab, Pakistan. Known as the “Gardens of the Mughals” or “City of Gardens”, after the rich heritage of the Mughal Empire (1524 to 1752), the city of Lahore is endowed with many fine buildings and gardens, including Lahore Fort, the Shalimar Gardens (built by Shah Jahan) and the Badshahi Mosque. Lahore reached its pinnacle when Emperor Akbar made it the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1584 to 1598.

These restoration effort has won a number of awards, including a UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Conservation Award for Excellence, a Time Magazine “Best Restored Treasure” and a British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow Award.

AKTC, in partnership with the Government of the Punjab and the World Bank, has initiated a programme to contribute to the preservation of Lahore’s Mughal monuments and to support socio-economic development in surrounding low-income areas. In cooperation with other agencies, the Programme will work in the famed Walled City and provide assistance in the establishment of effective heritage management policies. As with other Trust projects, the restoration projects are expected to be a catalyst for area-wide urban and economic regeneration in the historic Walled City.

Discover, Explore and Learn more at AKDN in Pakistan – AKTC – Cultural Development,  AKDN in Pakistan – AKTC – Historic Cities Programme – Conservation and Development in Gilgit-Baltistan and the Punjab,  AKDN: Country Focus – Pakistan and AKF: Country Summary – Pakistan.


More on Awards Received by the Agencies of the AKDN

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