Mosque has always been a vital part in world’s Islamic history, not only it is a place of worship, but also represents Mughal architecture and glory of that era. Our whole history speaks through the magnificent architecture of mosques built during Mughal period. Their massive vaults, embellished anugerah kubah ceilings and corridors, glorified minarets, subtle motifs, ecstatic calligraphy all these add touch of grandeur and beauty to these adorable, mosques, amidst them is Shah Jahan Mosque, matchless in its beauty and magnificence.
This mosque, is made up of heavy brick structure with simple construction built upon a stone plinth, with big square pillars and gigantic walls, is centered on a courtyard 169′ X 97′. The prayer hall is same in magnitude; both are enclosed by large domes. On the north and south two aisled galleries open by means of cloisters onto the courtyard. Ninety three domes cover the entire structure, and are probably the cause of a remarkable echo, which enables the prayers in front of the Mihrab to be heard in any part of the building. This mosque encloses the most detailed display of tile-work in the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent. The two main chambers, in particular, are entirely covered with them. Their domes have been exquisitely laid with a mosaic of glowing azure and white tiles. Stylish floral patterns, similar to the seventeenth century Kashi work of Iran, embellish the spandrel of the main arches and elsewhere geometrical designs on square tiles are disposed in a series of panels.
Architecturally matchless, the Jami mosque is distinct in its layout as well as its materials. This is the first mosque in the region to be erected, according to Mughal architectural pattern, quite different from other mosques in certain aspects, the edifice is extended along the east-west rather than the usual north-south axis. Instead of pink sandstone and marble mostly used in Mughal buildings, it is adorned with red bricks. The decision of using brick was made owing to practical concerns of cost and availability, since Thatta does not have much stone. The facade is festooned with glossy tiles.
Mughal emperor Shah Jahan laid the foundation stone for this mosque to show gratitude towards the people of Thatta for giving him refuge during his youthful exile from Delhi at the hands of his father, Emperor Jahangir. Several Persian inscriptions are found dating the foundation of the mosque to 1644 and its completion to 1647. The floor was paved with stone in 1657. Renovation was done during the seventies by the Endowment (Awqaf) Department with an addition of orchard to the eastern side of mosque. For this new garden, a detached foyer was fabricated, defined by a triple arched formation that imitates the Mughal style of arches enclosed in rectangular frames, the central portion being projected higher than the other, built on axis with the main entrance to the mosque. The garden is an endeavor to imitate the four-quadrant charbagh technique, one walks through it to reach the mosque.
Other equally remarkable modifications and experiments with Mughal style are to be explored in this work. There is no minaret, instead of the classic three rounded domes; only one main dome in the prayer hall. Ablution pond is not located in the center of the courtyard, rather it is in a square courtyard located within the eastern portion of the mosque, could be accessed from an arched opening in the domed entrance chamber but now is reachable only from the passageway of the eastern part.
Shah Jahan mosque stands for the loftiness of Sindh’s tile work. The influence of mosaic on tile work is seen in the ceiling adornment of semi domed and domed chambers; as well as in the fillings of interlaced arches; and at the panels at the level of squinches. The technique of soft glazed tile paneling had been in use since the Tarkhan period. Various shapes of tiles – square, rectangular and hexagonal – were manufactured and joined to complete a design in a given panel. The tile work is not related to imperial Mughal style but to the Timurid School. Various shades of blue on white, and some yellow or purple background produce a very soothing effect in the hot climate of Thatta.
The mammoth core entrance capped with, innermost vaulted chamber is approached through a rectangular vestibule. Mosque is structured along an open middle patio that measures 164′ x 97′. Arcades of red brick arches highlighted with bands of white surround the square and present a conspicuous reflection. Main entrance, from the eastern portion and the secondary entrances are from the north and south portion. On the west side is the prayer hall housing the mihrab that determines the direction of prayer. The prayer hall three bays deep on either side of the central mihrab chamber. The other three sides are only two bays deep on either
The gleaming star pattern is the most important one that replaces the rosette of other buildings on Makli hills.