Centuries old Swat mosque becomes centre of attraction after restoration.

SWAT -- Known for its nifty floral wood-carved pillars and doors, the oldest mosque in Chamtalai village has become the centre of attraction for worshipers, heritage lovers and architectures after it was restored and conserved.

Presently known as Chinar Jumat, the mosque earlier known as the Molyano Jumat reflects Swati and South Asian vernacular architecture. It is located in the heart of Chamtalai village in Khawazakhela tehsil.

According to the locals, it was constructed by Akhund Baba some 600 years ago. Since then, it has been expanded, renovated and reconstructed with the gradual increase in population of the area. However, it needed urgent restoration and conservation as it was not repaired for a long time.

Swat Participatory Council (SPC), with the assistance of Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development and guidance of Shaukat Associates and conservation expert Sameta Ahmed, restored and conserved the mosque and protected its originality.

Locals say it was built by Akhund Baba 600 years ago

'While conserving the mosque, special importance was given to the wooden pillars, columns and doors. The mosque has a high degree of artistic merit and has been mentioned in several books and research works including Islamic Architecture: the Wooden Style of Northern Pakistan by A H Dani and The Arts and Crafts of the Swat Valley: Living Traditions in the Hindu Kush by Johannes Kalter,' said Saddam Hussain, the executive director of SPC.

He said that the writers and researchers considered the mosque as a heritage unparalleled on the world stage of culture and crafts for being refined as a rural heritage and containing the combined fusion of elements that drew multicultural influences from the ancient cultures of Gandhara, China and the Indus Valley Civilisation.

The local elders said that it was a multipurpose building. 'From daily religious prayers to community meetings and casual relaxation...

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