One of a kind
This mosque, twenty-five feet below ground level, was all decorated for the Rabi’ul-Awwal month’s activities and it added more beauty to it. I was welcomed by the Imam of the mosque and he was kind enough to let me photograph the place. He also narrated stories about the establishment of the mosque, which made my trip more interesting. This was my trip to the Neevin Masjid. The entrance of the mosque is from the Lohari Gate (one of the thirteen gates of the walled city of Lahore) going towards the Naya Bazaar inside Chowk Matti. It is small doorway that leads you to the twenty-six-stepped stairway which takes you down to the ground level of the mosque.
While roaming around inside the mosque, I was constantly thinking about the water drainage and what would happen in the monsoons. The same I inquired from the Imam of the mosque, a nice gentleman. Despite being twenty five feet below ground level, there has never been a complaint of sewerage or drainage of water system, the Imam of the mosque told me. That’s another wonder of this mosque. The Imam said that it’s not a miracle or some unseen force controlling the water; rather it was the mechanism with which it was constructed. He added that two wells or maybe water tanks were constructed underneath the floor called “gharki” in local language. These are functional since the establishment of the mosque for almost more than five hundred years now. The water used in the mosque for ablution, toilets and even the rain water goes into those wells and is dispersed from there and the system is functional without any problem. Yes, he said that the mechanism itself is a wonder and no one could ever figure it out. I wish we had similar mechanisms to save us from over flowing roads during the monsoon season. Well, why can’t the government work on similar mechanisms in the places that are flooded during the rainy season? Anyhow that’s just another question I will write about soon.
Despite being twenty five feet below ground level, there has never been a complaint of sewerage or drainage
Coming back to the topic, let me tell you that as far as I have read about it, this mosque is one of a kinds in the world and no other similar example is so far found even in the sub-continent. It has an open courtyard on the western side of which lies the mosque prayer chamber. The mosque is small in size but nobody doubts it grandeur. I think it’s a must-visit site. The mosque has a three low domed structure with as many openings on its face. The mosque of the Lodhi period was constructed by Zulfiqar Khan who served the Governor of Lahore, Haybat Khan, in 1460s and it is said that the mosque was built in the same years. Historic accounts by Dr Abdullah Chughtai states that the Mosque was built on the foundations of an old temple and the structure and ground level was not changed. He established his argument by epitomizing different temples which were constructed below the ground level in ancient times. The other Mosques seen in Lahore like Wazir Khan, Golden Mosque, Saleh Kamboh Mosque or even the Badshahi Mosque are either on ground level or on a raised masonry.
As per historic accounts it is claimed that there were two mosques of similar kind. Amongst the two Neevin (low-level) Mosques, the one situated inside Yakki (Zakki) Darwaza has completely been erased from the face of the earth to give way to a modem structure of a mosque of the late 20th century. However this mosque still exists, whereas changes have been made to its original fabric.
Unlike other mosques, the Neevin Masjid underwent no change during the Sikh or British rules
Unlike other mosques, the Neevin Masjid underwent no change during the Sikh or British rules. The use of Badshahi Mosque, Sonehri Mosque, Mariam Zamani, Moti Masjid and many others was changed during different rules, but the sanctity of Neevin Masjid was never harmed in any era. The possession of the mosque is with the locals of the area and they gather funds for its maintenance. The mosque is not a tourist site, but can be developed as the Imam is too hospitable and has a comforting personality. Not many people know about this wonder inside the walled city. This mosque also affirms the footprints of the Lodhi Dynasty in Lahore, as does the tomb of Malik Ayyaz for the Ghaznavid rule. This mosque should be enlisted among the Monuments of Lahore, as it is so far ignored. We don’t find much information about it on the web or in many books either. The authorities should take the initiative in maintaining it and to bring it on the list of monuments. Though the façade and building décor have been changed, still the water mechanism and its depth from the street level is not less than a wonder.