Historical Kalhora period mosque in Dadu
September 09, 2011
About 10 kilometres south of Dadu town lies the historical Jami Mosque Khudabad. It is known to have been built by Mian Yar Mohammad Kalhoro, the real founder of Kalhora Dynasty in Sindh (1701-1719).
The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb made him the governor of Derajat in 1701 and conferred upon him the title of Khudayar Khan resulting in the foundation of his capital at Khudabad. Simultaneously, he laid the foundation of Jami Mosque. Mian Yar Mohammad is reputed to have been a benevolent and munificent Kalhora ruler who ruled astutely over upper-Sindh. He was very fond of architecture and built a number of tombs which include those of Mian Nasir Mohammad Kalhoro, Mian Deen Mohammad Kalhoro, Mian Mir Mohammad Kalhoro, Gul Mohammad Khuhawar I, Bisharat Khan Khuhawar, Sarang Khan Khuhawar, Bagho Chandio, Mir Sobdar Khan Talpur, Nindo Khoso, Fojo Faqir etc., all of which are located in the necropolis of Mian Nasir Mohammad Kalhoro.
Apart from the tombs at Garhi, he ordered several tombs at his capital Khudabad, notably those of Datto Khan Khuhawar, one of his ministers, Shahdad Khan Langah, Mangho Faqir Jatoi etc. According to Mian Amir Bakhsh Kalhoro, a GadiNashin of Mian Nasir Mohammad, Mian Yar Mohammad built over one hundred mausoleums scattered all over the Dadu and Larkana districts. He also built his tomb during his lifetime which still dominates the landscape of Khudabad and is conspicuous from a distance.
The mosque occupied a very important position in Kalhora architecture. The first mosque, built by Adam Shah Kalhoro at Haitri Ghulam Shah, does not exist now. His successors Mian Daud Kalhoro, Mian Ilyas Kalhoro, Mian Shahal Mohammad Kalhoro built mosques in their respective dairas, a religious settlement where Kalhoras and their disciples preached Mahdwi thought and ideology. Unfortunately, not a single mosque survives today.
After the martyrdom of Mian Shahal Mohammad Kalhoro, Mian Jan Mohammad Kalhoro, Mian Yar Mohammad Kalhoro I and Mian Taban Kalhoro, in battle against Mughal loyalists in the present district of Larkana, Mian Nasir Mohammad shifted his daira from Larkana to the present tehsil of Khairpur Nathan Shah where he established the town of Garhi, named after one of his female disciples. Here, Mian Nasir Mohammad built the Jami Mosque in 1659. Seven years later, Mian Laskar Khan Kalhoro the grandson of Mian Shahal Mohammad Kalhoro founded the town of Khanpur in 1666 and at the same time built a three domed mosque, noted for stucco work. There were two persons by the name of Laskar Khan in the royal family of Kalhoras; one grandson of Mian Nasir and other grandson of Mian Shahal Mohammad. Khanpur is now a bustling town and located 15-kilometres from Khairpur Nathan Shah on National Highway.
KhatLashkar Khan is another village, not far from Khanpur, named after Mian Lashkar Khan, grandson of Mian Shahal Mohammad Kalhoro.
Among these mosques, the Jami Mosque of Khudabad is more prominent and is a great specimen of Kalhora architecture. Prior to Khudabad Mosque, all other Kalhora mosques were simply built and lacked many embellishments. Chiroly, a cement like substance, was used in early Kalhora mosques; while the Jami Mosque of Khudabad is opulently decorated with glazed tiles representing geometric and floral designs.
The mosque is rectangular in plan and built on a raised platform. It is accessed through a set of semi-circular steps on the eastern side. The stairs lead to an imposing arched entrance opening to a large courtyard. It has the usual three-arched entrances leading to ante-chamber with intricately decorated domes covering the prayer hall below. The mosque reflects a blend of central Asian as well as a local style of architecture.
After the Shah Jahani Mosque of Thatta, which was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the Jami Mosque of Khudabad is the most beautiful and imposing structure throughout Sindh. The exterior of the building is lavishly covered with some of the most exquisite glazed tile work in the province. Its interior is adorned with frescos which, as of right now, has been completely damaged. The external walls are divided into panels with blind arches giving the structure a marked three-tiered appearance. The panels are vivid and glowing. Both sides of arched entrance to the ante-chamber is bedecked with glazed tiles representing lily plants in blossom or leaves; flowers and buds sprouting from the central stem and falling over right and left in natural curves.
In the good old days the mosque used to draw a large number of namazis. Now, it stands in a dilapidated state, fast crumbling into pieces. Obviously, the concerned authorities are not bothered by the poor condition of this historical heritage. Because of the seepage of the water, the northern dome has caved in and to save it from further damage, corrugated sheets have been crudely placed over the dome. The remaining domes have developed cracks as well. Rain has also played havoc with other parts of the mosque. Rain water dribbles through the cracks in the domes, further rendering damage to the whole structure. Sometimes, rainwater penetrating through the domes accumulates in the chamber of the mosque. Ironically, these domes are supported by wooden planks.
Several parts of the mosque are under threat from surface erosion, and wear and tear from visitors. The floor of the mosque is also in appalling condition. If timely action is not taken to arrest its further decay there is a danger that this heritage will be lost forever.