ilyasi masjid abbottabad history

Oldest and Largest Mosque in Abbottabad – Ilyasi Masjid Abbottabad History

Ilyasi Mosque is the oldest and largest mosque in Abbottabad. There is also a small hill with walking trails right behind the Ilyasi Mosque. The weather is pleasant in summer so people from all over Pakistan come to visit Abbottabad and Nawanshehr. ilyasi masjid abbottabad history

Nawansher is also home to a beautiful cricket ground managed by the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Abbottabad Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education. Nawanshehr has its own old bazaar which is famous for its Chapli Kebab. And while you are at Ilyasi Masjid, you must not miss the famous Ilyasi Masjid ke Pakoray. ilyasi masjid abbottabad history

Architecture of Ilyasi Mosque

The ivory white structure of the Ilyasi Mosque looks forlorn against the backdrop of the lush green valley of Abbottabad. ilyasi masjid abbottabad history

Ilyasi Masjid Abbottabad History

It was built around 1927-1932 and stands over 1250 meters above sea level. Abbottabad itself was founded in 1853, named after Major James Abbott, the first British Deputy Commissioner of the region. 

In his farewell, he confessed that “…he adored the place from the first sight – and was happy that his coming hither was right! After the creation of Pakistan, the city retained its importance as a military city. The primary training academy of the Pakistan Army is still located in the Kakul area. ilyasi masjid abbottabad history

Location of Ilyasi Masjid

To get to the Ilyasi Mosque, you have to take a long winding road along the border of the Kakul Academy. One leads from the posh city center through several rustic bazaars to the small village of Nawan Shehar. The majestic mosque is spread over 5 canals at the foot of the hill which provides a unique view of the city of Abbottabad.

The mosque’s aesthetic incorporates Islamic, British and Sikh architectural influences. Its most distinctive feature is the tall minaret, which is instantly recognisable. Adjacent domes and narrow staircases lead to water pools, a vast open courtyard. On the left is a spacious prayer hall and on the right is a madrasa.

A row of smaller cupolas on the roof balances the elevation of the front. The walls of the mosque are decorated with details of verses from the Koran and devotional Persian couplets of reverence for the Divine. Bright, natural light shines through the side columns of the building’s geometric cement mesh, giving the mosque a spiritual and mystical feel.

The mosque is built over a natural stream of water that flows down from the hill above. Cold, refreshing glacial water gushes from two pools in front of the mosque. Next, it is led through two dozen open gargoyles and runs continuously for almost a year. This unique feat of engineering helps keep the shiny white marble floor cool and provides water for washing practices. ilyasi masjid abbottabad history

In the past, water was much more abundant, but now, sometimes when it does not rain for a long time, the water flow decreases and at the height of summer, this natural stream also dries up. ilyasi masjid abbottabad history

Tourists Attractions at Ilyasi Masjid Abbottabad

For local residents, this stream is the subject of folklore and myth. The water is believed to have healing properties for skin, muscle and respiratory diseases. Another story tells how some Christians originally wanted to build a church on this very spot, but the local residents opposed the plan and built a mosque.

The colorful, bustling bazaar around the mosque is a testament to this spirit. The numerous pakora shops around the mosque are particularly prominent. They all claim to be the original and oldest seller of Ilyasi pakoras. Pakoras are a popular version of spicy fritters/fries from the subcontinent, made with potato, onion and some other vegetables coated in gram flour and served with mint chutney.

Over the decades, enjoying these hot pakoras has become as obligatory a ritual as prayer when visiting the Ilyasi Mosque. Some claim that the first Ilyasi pakora shop opened in 1956.

Sometimes a place becomes special because of its characteristics, sometimes because of its history. Sometimes its placement stands out and in some cases creates an emotional association. Ilyasi Mosque, in the quiet city of Abbottabad, is a landmark that has all these distinctions and more. It is truly a pearl perfectly nestled in the picturesque valley of Abbottabad. ilyasi masjid abbottabad history

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