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Bhong Mosque (Bhong Masjid) is located in the village of Bhong, Sadiqabad Tehsil, Rahim Yar Khan District, Southern Punjab Pakistan. It was designed and constructed over a period of nearly 50 years (1932–1982) and won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1986. A postage stamp depicting it was issued on May 12, 2004 in Pakistan.
The mosque is located at the distance of 200 kilometers from Bahawalpur and 50 kilometers from Rahim Yar Khan and is well known for its exquisite design and architectural beauty with gold leaves carved for the intricate decorative patterns and the stylish calligraphic work.
Sardar Rais Ghazi Mohammad Indhar, a wealthy landlord, commissioned this mosque in 1932 to be the jewel of his new palace compound, which already included a mosque and a prestigious Madrasa (religious school) and was completed in 1982.
Sardar Rais Ghazi Mohammad Indhar, client, designer, patron and landlord conceived, directed and funded the entire building construction. The construction of mosque was carried out by specialists gathered from all over Pakistan and India: master masons from Rajisthan, India; craftsmen from Multan for the glazed tile, mosaic and woodwork; and painters and calligraphers from Karachi. Workshops were set up to train craftsmen in skills that had originally been passed from father to son. Materials and crafts used range from the traditional - teak, ivory, marble, colored glass, onyx, glazed tile, fresco, mirrors, gilded tracery, ceramics, calligraphy and inlay - to the modern and synthetic marbled industrial tile, artificial stone facing, terrazzo, colored cement tile and wrought iron. Sardar Rais Ghazi's intention was to represent as many forms of popular craft and as many Islamic religious architectural features as possible. There has been a recent addition to the mosque. A white marbled Quran has been constructed right outside the veranda.
Over the 50 years of its evolution, the Bhong Mosque Complex has generated jobs and trained approximately 1000 workers and craft men in indigenous crafts. Its construction laid an edifice for socio-economic development and provision of basic amenities of life including market roads, schools, electricity, gas, bank, hospital, post office etc. to the local population.
Route: You can reach Bhong Mosque from Sadiqabad which is approxmaitaly 18 KM from Sadiqabad. Road is quite reasonable to travel.
The construction of the mosque was carried out by specialists gathered from all over Pakistan and India: master masons from Rajasthan, India, craftsmen from Multan for the glazed tile, mosaic and woodwork, and painters and calligraphers from Karachi. Workshops were set up to train craftsmen in skills that had originally been passed from father to son. The mosque's design is a mix of Islamic styles, using rare and traditional materials such as ivory, teak, and onyx, along with industrial elements like terrazzo and artificial stone facing. Broadly eclectic in their use of sources, the builders borrowed stylistic elements from nearby Lahore, as well as Iran, Spain and Turkey, and combined them with Western colonial elements of the 1940s.
The mosque was commissioned in 1932 by Rais Ghazi Mohammad,to be the jewel of his new palace compound where another mosque and prestigious religious school already stood. Rais Ghazi Mohammad was given the highest civilian award of Pakistan from the government namely "Sitara-e-Imtiaz" on March 23, 2004 in recognition of his services.
In recognition of his significant sole attempt to create a local Islamic center of learning and building crafts, Sardar Rais Ghazi Mohammad was awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture by His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan in 1986 at Morocco. In the words of the jury, "Bhong enshrines and epitomizes the popular taste in Pakistan with all its vigor, pride, tension and sentiment. Its use, and misuse of signs and symbols expresses appropriate growing pains of an architecture in transition." The president, Islamic Republic of Pakistan has posthumously conferred upon Sardar Rais Ghazi Muhammad, SITARA-I-IMTIAZ on March 23, 2004 (Pakistan Day) for his outstanding contribution to the field of Public Service (Bhong Mosque architecture).
Critics, mostly Western, have called it "Arabian Nights à la Hollywood," noting how much it delights the Pakistani, yet bemoaning the fact that such a work will now set an architectural standard. To date, it has been the most controversial of the Aga Khan architecture award winners.