LAHORE - US Consul General Yuriy R Fidkew on Wednesday visited the Chowk Wazir Khan and the historic Wazir Khan mosque, which is recently restored to its past glory.

Chowk Wazir Khan, a seventeenth century Mughal architectural heritage, had been overtaken by the encroachers and turned into a parking lot while the hujras on the eastern facade of the Wazir Khan mosque were turned into shops.

The US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) decided to restore and preserve the heritage in October 2015 and restored the architectural masterpiece in 2017 with $1.2 million in funding.

The restoration project included bringing the Chowk Wazir Khan to its original form by digging 2.5 meters to separate the existing street level and the original ground level of the forecourt of the Chowk through archaeological excavations. A retaining wall was built to avoid future encroachments and to ensure a protective bulwark for the hujras.

As part of the project the Dina Nath Well, a public well located in the northeast section of the square, was also conserved while six meters of excavation in and around the well revealed historical construction from the Mughal and Sikh eras.

Fidkew said the Chowk Wazir Khan has been restored as a community space where people can meet before and after prayers, arrange religious sermons, or peruse handmade traditional merchandise sold in the hujras. He said the development would attract tourists for a more intimate look into the historic city.

“Sites like the Wazir Khan Mosque are powerful symbols of culture and religion which provide an insight into the rich history of the subcontinent,” said Fedkiw, who would soon be leaving Lahore for another assignment.

The diplomat also visited different parts of the majestic Wazir Khan Mosque and expressed his deep liking for the architectural gem.

AFCP is a US government-sponsored initiative to protect at-risk cultural treasures across the world and it has completed 19 projects. Agha Khan Cultural Services Pakistan has preserved the site in collaboration with the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA).