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Safar 11, 1440

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The Relic Chamber

As the main mausoleum stands on the rear side of the platform and draws the whole attraction by the maximum advantage it takes of the available height, the back portion is shortened and almost closed by a low retaining wall. There are no steps on this side, which faces east. The original idea of the architect was perhaps to leave it in that position and let it remain concealed by the rough ridge that still clings on to the north-east corner of the enclosure. However, the little area available on this eastern side has been developed as a backyard and, without disturbing the original concept, a low flat roofed rectangular building has been put up, five feet away from the platform, to be used as a relic chamber.

This later adjunct to the main building is a very simple construction deliberately meant that way so that the attention from the main building is not diverted at all. It is also for this reason that the height of its roof is kept one foot lower than the top of the platform, and it is only by a rear passage that the visitors can approach that side. However, there is a spiritual connection between the main mausoleum and this later building, which serves the purpose of a relic chamber. It has two functions: one part of the chamber is reserved for housing the relics of Quaid-e-Azam and the other accomodates the graves of the devoted companions of the Quaid. As this building measures only 126 feet 3 inches by 73 feet 4 inches, it is shorter in length than that of the platform and hence it is placed in its middle. This face of the platform is painted white and its whole visible surface is relieved by rows of floral patterns. It is an Arabesque design consisting of leafy form made up by scalloped sides of a rhombus with a flowery crest at either end. In the middle of the flower there is a four petalled pattern.

This design is very common in the Mughal architecture of the subcontinent, but it has not been adopted in the ornamentation of the main building. Some variation is made in the setting of these flowers. A vertical of three complete flowers alternates with another having two in the middle and a semi-floral design at the top and bottom rows. This whole setting is rather mathematical than artistic. It helps in breaking the monotony of the wall but it does not enhance its beauty. From a distance it merges into the whiteness of the wall surface but from near it helps in understanding the new building which is subsidiary to the main mausoleum.

The rectangular building is a hypostyle hall with a curtain wall in the middle that divides it into two portions - the relic museum in the north and the grave complex in the south. The roof rests on twentyfour square pillars, arranged six in length and four in width. The grave complex is longitudinal, aligned east and west with an additional bay for a separate grave of Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah to the north. The remaining portion accomodates the museum show-cases, all of which are air-conditioned. This is a commodious rectangular hall, with only a jutting-in of the space for the single grave of Miss Jinnah. There are five arched entrances - the arches are the miniature model of the high arch in the main mausoleum - leading into this building, two on the south that give opening to the grave complex, two on the east and one on the north for the museum proper. The exterior face of the wall is veiled by long panels of jali work in masonry that stretches from the floor to the cornice. There are seven panels on each side of the main door on the north. On the east eight panels occupy the space between the doors while eight and six are respectively on the western and eastern sides. The southern side has six panels between the doors and three each at the ends. The western side has also got twentyseven panels. The jali work in the panels consists of a series of chain motif joined one to the other.

Madar-e-Millat Mohtarma Fatima Jinnahs grave in the Mausoleum complex In the interior of the grave complex, there are three graves in a row and one to the north. The northern one, which is decorated with a series of black floral design at the base, belongs to Miss Fatima Jinnah, the most loved sister of the Quaid and constant companion in all his political activity. On the face of her grave the dates of her birth and death are given in Urdu and Bengali: born on 17 Muharram 1311 / July 31, 1893; died on 1 Rabi-us-Sani 1387 / July 9, 1967. Out of the three graves, the northern one belongs to Shahid-i-Millat Liaquat Ali Khan, who died as Prime Minister of Pakistan. The inscription gives the date of birth as 11 Rabi-us-Sani 1313 / October 1, 1895 and Shahid-i-Millat Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khans grave in the Mausoleum complex that of death as 13 Muharram 1372 / October 16, 1951. The extreme southern grave belongs to Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar, a revered leader from NWFP. He was born on 3 Safar 1317 / June 13, 1899 and died on 24 Rajab 1377 / February 14, 1958. In the middle lies buried the great Bengali leader Nurul Amin, who rose to be the Vice-President of Pakistan. He was born on 14 Jamadi-us-Sani 1311 / December 23, 1893 and died on 25 Ramzan 1394 / October 2, 1974. All these graves are made of Italian white marble, and they are of the box type, like the sarcophagus of the Quaid-e-Azam, placed on a triple base. But the sides of these graves are tapering inward while that of the Quaid-e-Azam are diverging outward. They are all plain graves, except that of Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, which has a basal floral ornamentation.

Courtesy: Prof. Ahmad Hasan Dani, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad



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