Dec 21, 2013

Chaqchan Mosque Oldest Mosque of Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan

Where is this mosque located? 

This mosque is located in the Khaplu, a district of Baltistan division some 100 kilometers from the Skardu city, and is known as the oldest mosque in the Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan as well.


Who did lay the foundation of the mosque? 

The construction of the mosque dates back to 1370 AD. The foundation of the mosque was laid down by a religious preacher, Mir Syed Ali Hamdani, who by his preach and deeds, converted the people to Islam. Syed Ali Hamdani was a Sufi from the Hamdan city of Iran, and according to some sources a descendant of Hazrat Ali (AS) [Muhammad's cousin and first Imam of Shia Muslims], who traveled from Iran to India, Afghanistan and up to Tajikistan preaching and converting the people to Islam. He died in Kunar city of Afghanistan and was buried in Khatlan, a city in present-day Tajikistan.
Tributing his exemplary services in the preaching of Islam, Allama Iqbal (the national poet of Pakistan) wrote about him.


سید سادات سالارعجم
 دست او معمار تقدیر امم

Architecture of Mosque

The mosque has a unique architecture depicting a combined taste of Tibetan, Iranian and Mughal ear architectural style. The outer facade and the materials used for building the walls are what we find in the rest of Baltistan for the construction of forts and related mosques and Khanqahs. In Baltistan construction of such buildings mainly comprising of wood and other materials as supporting material was pretty common through the first half of the 20th century but now such tradition of construction has become extinct due to many reasons.
The ground floor and the design of windows tell us about the Tibetan design. In Tibetan design carving on wood was common and such is done with the windows. If you look closer you would find wood carved for every small piece of window frames like the apron, rail, muntin, and stile, everything will be carved and beautiful designs would be made on them. The windows are smaller in size to cope with the freezing breeze of the Karakoram because in winter the temperature in the valley plunges to freezing point and sometimes below -20-degree celsius.
The upper story has a balcony around the praying room. If you observe you would find such balconies in the old buildings of Baltistan. It was common to have such balconies designed of the wood frames for the passage of the air in the summer. Also, in the case of Mosque, it would have been helpful to have gathered and listened to the preacher in sunny days of summer.
In past, many forts and even small dwelling units would construct by using wood as the building material in place of modern day concrete and steel rods. The whole hollow frame of the building would first be constructed and then mud blocks would be used as filling material. But now the availability of the wood is one of the issues and people can't think of constructing such marvelous buildings.

How to reach there?

Do you want to visit this marvelous mosque and have a deeper look at the architectural design of the building? Then you are privileged nowadays and within days you could reach the mosque from Islamabad. How? If you are in Islamabad what you need to do is book an airline ticket for Skardu. It takes about 45 minutes to reach there by air from Islamabad to Skardu. Once you are there in Skardu you can reach there by covering a 100 kilometers distance from the Skardu towards the east on the Skardu-Kargil Road up to the Keris village. From here you would follow the Shyok River Valley road till the Khaplu city. Once you enter the Khaplu city the mosque is only   20-minutes drive from the city center. 




2 comments:

  1. we are descendant of Hazarat shah Hamdan and want to correct the writers who may haven,t basic necessary knowledge about Islamic Hstory,
    Syed Aki Humdani was famous sufi of Kubervi order who also conneted with other sufi orders at HAZRAT JUNAID BUGHDADI (RA) all as above to 4th caliph of Islam- Hazrat Ali .

    There is no connection of sufiism with any group or organization of shiah'a and wahabi beleives

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  2. secondly, Syed Ali Humdani was not died in Afghanistan, for more details you can see any book about kashmir history and i would like to correct you that he was died in Pakhli, Kunar which is situated in HAZARA division-- at that time he was going to Kulab from Kashmir and stayed at pakhli, Hazara because king (sutan of pakhli was his Mureed-follower).

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