A building of outstanding distinction, not merely in Lahore but in the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent, is the Wazir Khan Mosque built in the old city in A.D. 1634 by a Punjabi minister of Shahjahan’s bearing the title of Wazir Khan. The Wazir Khan was already in the emperor’s service before he came to the throne, and was at various times Shahjahan’s household Diwan, his physician, and his Viceroy of the Punjab. The Wazir Khan Mosque was built around the tomb of a Persian saint and, in spite of distinctively Indo-Muslim elements, is itself predominantly Persian in character.
Wazir Khan Mosque has four great octagonal corner towers, the two “Hindu” pavilions on the inner angles of the main gateway, and the bracketed oriels which flank the outer entrance, may be included amongst its Indian or Mughal traits. For the rest, Wazir Khan Mosque is a riot of mosaic tile-work of purely Persian type, set in a framework of unrelenting severity. The facade of the tomb-chamber, with its high square-framed central arch and the two flanking arches on each side of it, are a superb example of Persian floral decoration in which white and blues predominate. Elsewhere, on the towers and gateway and flanking arcades, yellow, green and other colours are equally emphatic and the variety of the pattern in detail, including a range of cypress trees round an upper stage of the towers, offers unending discovery to the eye. Here, if anywhere, may we speak of jewelled architecture.
The half-domes of the great arches both of prayer-chamber and of gate have interlaced ribbing and are painted with floral patterns; so also is the interior of the prayer-chamber. The central compartment of the latter has a honeycombed cornice and squinches. The main gate of Wazir Khan Mosque is unusual in Pakistan or India in that it incorporates a large domed octagonal space which forms a part of a bazaar that is doubtless as ancient in origin as the mosque. The interior of the dome is ornamented with zigzag brickwork emphasized by paint.
The Whole building of Wazir Khan Mosque stands upon a platform approached by steps, at the foot of which a busy open-air bazaar commonly adds yet further colour to a scene of vivid beauty.
The building known as Wazir Khan’s Baradari stands behind the Central Museum, Lahore, within the site of the Wazir Khan’s garden, commonly called the Nakhlia from the date-palms which it contained. The structure is square and symmetrical, with a central vaulted hall surrounded by galleries. Externally, the facades are slightly convex in elevation (clearly influenced by the convex Bengali) and have a square twelve-pillared “Hindu” pavilion at each corner. Three openings with bracketed lintels occupy the centre of the upper stage on each face, and four-centred or cusped openings and niches complete the elevation. The building has long been used as the Punjab Public Library, and is completely plastered, but there is evidence that it was originally painted. Its proportions are good; otherwise in its present condition it is of little interest. It presumably dates from about A.D. 1635.