The Badshahi Mosque or the 'Royal Mosque' in Lahore, commissioned by the sixth Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1671 and completed in 1673, is the second largest mosque in Pakistan and South Asia and the fifth largest mosque in the world. Epitomizing the beauty, passion, and grandeur of the Mughal era, it is Lahore's most famous landmark and a major tourist attraction.
To appreciate its large size, the four minarets of the Badshahi Mosque are 13.9 ft (4.2 m) taller than those of the Taj Mahal and the main platform of the Taj Mahal can fit inside the 278,784 sq ft (25,899.9 m2) courtyard of the Badshahi Mosque, which is the largest mosque courtyard in the world.
Like the character of its founder, the mosque is bold, vast and majestic in its expression. It was the largest mosque in the world for a long time. The interior has rich embellishment in stucco tracery (Manbatkari) and paneling with a fresco touch, all in bold relief, as well as marble inlay.
The exterior is decorated with stone carving as well as marble inlay on red sandstone, especially of lots from motifs in bold relief. The embellishment has Indo-Greek, Central Asian and Indian architectural influence both in technique and motifs.
The skyline is furnished by beautiful ornamental merlons inlaid with marble lining adding grace to the perimeter of the mosque. In its various architectural features like the vast square courtyard, the side aisles (dalans), the four corner minarets, the projecting central transept of the prayer chamber and the grand entrance gate, is summed up the history of development of mosque architecture of the Muslim world over the thousand years prior to its construction in 1673.
The north enclosure wall of the mosque was laid close to the Ravi River bank, so a majestic gateway could not be provided on that side and, to keep the symmetry the gate had to be omitted on the south wall as well. Thus a four aiwan plan like the earlier Delhi Jamia Masjid could not be adopted here. The walls were built with small kiln-burnt bricks laid in kankar, lime mortar (a kind of hydraulic lime) but have a veneer of red sandstone.
The steps leading to the prayer chamber and its plinth are in variegated marble. The prayer chamber is very deep and is divided into seven compartments by rich engraved arches carried on very heavy piers.