Walled City of Lahore can also be termed as a city of mosques. In every street of the city – mostly narrow and twisting – you will come across a mosque and most of them have some history or heritage value attached. There are several small and huge mosques inside the walled city, but the smaller ones are usually neglected and thus forgotten by us. Let’s go to one of the unnoticed mosques of this heritage city which is known as ‘Chinian Wali Masjid’. I am sure many of you must be reading about it for the first time. It is said that this mosque was built during the reign of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir and is situated in Mohallah Chabak Sawaran, one of the known and popular Mohallahs inside the walled city. You can reach this mosque through Mochi Gate, Rang Mahal or Sonehri Masjid. Reaching the Rang Mahal you can ask any native to tell you about this mosque. People living there would definitely be surprised when you ask for it, as I experienced this myself too. The reason is that it’s a forgotten piece of history and only the natives of the city know about it or it is lost in the pages of old history books. Well, the mosque is functional and locals go in there to offer the prayers. Like all other Mughal era mosques there is an open courtyard in the mosque and the chamber is divided into two portions. This is a comparatively smaller mosque and carries three domes, central one of which is placed on a higher neck When you reach the mosque, you will see a new plaque there stating the construction date of the mosque which is A.H. 1080 and 1669 as per Christian calendar. During this era emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir ruled Lahore and thus the mosque’s relation to that era is evident. It s also said by the historians that some person whose name might have been Sarfaraz Khan or Afraz Khan was the one who got it constructed during that era. It is said that among the Mughals he was known for building mosques. Historic accounts tell us that Aurangzeb was not much interested in architecture rather was known to be of a sober nature and being religious he encouraged Islamic calligraphy. Lahore during his reign got the most magnificent mosque the Badshahi Masjid and also the Alamgiri Gate of the Lahore Fort. During his reign he also built mosques in Agra. Coming back to the Chinian Wali Masjid, let me tell you that the historic references state that it was a jewel like mosque in Lahore and was no less than Wazir Khan or Begum Shahi Masjid. Very few books mention anything about this mosque, but the ones that do talk about it tell us that it was embellished with paintings and fresco which was the popular art in the Mughal era. It is also said that this mosque was once extensively decorated with Kashi Kari work, which gives it the name of Chinian. The tile mosaic presented numerous floral designs in addition to inscriptions in Naskh and Nastaliq scripts. The ceiling was beautified with tile mosaic decoration. In the interior the plaster also carried the fresco. Historic references tell that this mosque too went through many ups and downs like many other mosques of the Mughal era. It is said and believed that the mosque was originally a single storey high plinth, but has now sunk with the passage of time, and the same had happened with the Wazir Khan mosque, but after the conservation of the Chowk Wazir Khan the original ground level were revealed, and I hope someday the same will be done for this mosque too. It is also said that the mosque had the main entrance from north through a majestic gateway which was destroyed during the Sikh period to re-use its material elsewhere, as the Sikhs looted many of the Mughal era buildings and used their materials in other buildings. The mosque, at present, has entrances which are situated on the northern and the eastern sides. With the eastern access arrangements for ablution are provided. It is, however, sketchy that there must have been a tank for the purpose at this place in old days. Like all other Mughal era mosques there is an open courtyard in the mosque and the chamber is divided into two portions. This is a comparatively smaller mosque and carries three domes, central one of which is placed on a higher neck. They are in the form of double dome from inside. The same pattern of domes is found in many of the Mughal Era Mosques. If you observe the mosque you will see that the chamber has three openings, and has a solid construction, but new structures have been added in it. The staircase to reach the roof top has been provided from the back wall through one of the Hujras as more storeys have been added in the Mosque. The mosque has typical Hujras as well which we also see in the Wazir Khan Mosque. This structure along with the references from the history books once again endorse the fact that it was built during the Mughal Era. Unfortunately, now when you visit this mosque, you will not see any of these embellishments or the fresco. With the passage of time the interior and exterior of the mosque had been plastered with white wash and white tiles have been pasted on its walls covering the original paintings and fresco work. Latest mirror work has been done in the central chamber with the hundred names of Allah written on it. You will find latest sound system inside the Mosque now. No marks of the historic fabric are seen there. The reason is that the mosque, like many other small but historic mosques of walled city Lahore, is being looked after by the locals. People do not have the sense or awareness of what material they should use to preserve the historic fabric, but I admire their love for the sacred place. The locals collect funds and then spent on the mosque. The sad part is again the encroachments and traffic mess outside the mosque. There is a motor bike parking stand outside it along with numerous shops which have damaged its sanctity along with the structure. Encroachments, no doubt, have spread speedily inside the walled city of Lahore and many monuments got damaged because of this hazard. I hope that one day these encroachments are also removed in the same way like Shahi Hammam and Wazir Khan Mosque. In my opinion the size of the monument doesn’t matter, we need to assess the place by its historic value. This mosque is not a tourist point but it should be as it has features and history attached to it. Published in Daily Times, September 6th 2018.