Lahore Fort Moti Masjid

moti masjid

The Moti Masjid, or Pearl Mosque, is a relatively small structure located at the western side of the fort. It is built entirely of white marble mined from the town of Makrana in contemporary Rajasthan. The mosque is one of the few buildings inside the fort that deviate from the overall north-south orientation of the complex, satisfying the liturgical requirement that the mosque’s mihrab (central niche) face directly toward Mecca.

As is the case with many mosques, the outward appearance of the Moti Masjid is dull and unpretentious. It can only be accessed through a small door at the northeast located near the Makatib Khana. The mosque’s antechamber is long and dimly lit, creating a sense of enclosure which is suddenly relieved when the visitor crosses the threshold into the mosque’s courtyard. All at once, the visitor is confronted with a brightly lit panorama of gleaming marble that visibly proclaims the purity of the mosque in direct contrast to the world that surrounds it.

The facade of the Moti Masjid is divided into five bays with the central bay protruding slightly forward into the courtyard. The five bay facade was a favored Mughal motif that was first seen at the Maryam Zamani Mosque and subsequently employed at most major Mughal mosques. The Moti Masjid differs from the Maryam Zamani precident in the inclusion of two transverse aisles along the western wall instead of one.

Lahore’s Moti Masjid was not the only “Pearl Mosque” built in the Mughal era. Mosques with the same name may also be found in Agra and Delhi, as it was common Mughal practice to name mosques after precious stones. The word “Pearl” also refers to the lustrous surface of the marble, resembling pearl, as well as the mosque’s comparatively small size.

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