Centuries-old Neevin Masjid suffers at authorities’ hands


LAHORE: Neevin Masjid, the only mosque in the world constructed 25-feet below the ground level is situated inside the Lahori Gate of the Walled City. The mosque, constructed soon after Bahlul Khan Lodhi became the ruler of Delhi in 1451, is considered as the first religious place of the Muslims in the historic city of Lahore.

Some historians claim that the building of the mosque is even older than the Lodhi dynasty as it was originally constructed by the Hindus as a temple.

While the mosque, currently being run by a local area committee, attracts the attention of many owing to its history and unique construction, unfortunately, the departments concerned are ignoring the importance of the mosque, owing to which the history of the beautiful construction is gradually fading away.

The mosque was built in a way that despite being 25 feet below the ground level, there have never been any complaints of sewerage water pouring in. The mosque has two wells and a water tank constructed beneath the floor. The drainage and sewerage system is functional even after the passage of hundreds of years.

Abdul Karim, 75, sitting inside the mosque told this scribe that he had never seen water entering or standing still in the mosque.

“I have witnessed so many floods in the city, but never inside the mosque. The water standstill outside the mosque and in the nearby areas but never inside the mosque,” he said.

Another unique characteristic of the mosque is that unlike other religious places in Lahore, neither the Sikhs nor the British ever made any changes to the mosque or used it for any other purpose as they did with the Badshahi Mosque, Sonehri Mosque, Mariam Zamani and the Moti Masjid.

However, the original fabric of the mosque has been replaced with a new one while a few other modifications have also been carried out including the installation of electric cables. But the mosque still projects its uniqueness.

The mosque despite having such an importance and being a witness to centuries, suffers as the departments concerned – Auqaf and Archaeology – have never bothered to take its ownership. Due to this negligence, now the locals of the area have been restoring and maintaining the mosque on their own. They collect funds from the shopkeepers and other residents for the structure’s repainting and maintenance.

An official of the Auqaf Department confirmed that the Neevin Masjid was never included among the mosques owned by the department.

Seeking anonymity, he said that the department mostly intervened to own the mosques whenever any complaints were registered by the locals or some issues regarding the management surfaced.

“The department has remained reluctant to take the ownership as the matters of the said mosque are being run properly by the locals,” he said and added that it was the responsibility of the Archaeology Department as the mosque was of historic nature.

Archaeology Department Director Afzal Khan admitted that the mosque was one of the important archaeological sites in the city due to its unique construction and the department failed to include it among the archaeological sites.

He also said the department had decided to include it in its list of archeological sites and the necessary steps for the restoration of the historic mosque would be taken soon.