This is one of the earliest Jama’at khanas (space designated for the communal religious practice of Shia Ismaili Muslims) of Hunza. It was constructed by the community in 1922.
Name: Hassanabad Jama’at Khana
Period /Age: 1920s
Location: Hassanabad, Hunza
Legal Status: Not Protected
Cultural Heritage Type: Religious Building
Documentation Date: July 2005
Significance: This is one of the earliest jama’at khanas of Hunza.
This is one of the earliest jama’at khanas (space designated for the communal religious practice of Shia Ismaili Muslims) of Hunza. It was constructed by the community in 1922, at the behest of the special Ismaili envoys of the Aga Khan III (imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims). This building later had the privilege of hosting the 49th Ismaili Imam (Shah Karim Al-Hussaini, Aga Khan IV) for an audience with his deedar (followers) in 1960, during his historic visit to the region. This was the first such endeavour of an Ismaili Imam to meet his jama’at (religious community) of Gilgit, Hunza and Ghezar. For this reason, the building holds a special religious and historic significance within the community. The building itself consists of a prayer hall, surrounded by a verandah on three of its sides, and built using a cribbage and cator technique. However, the timber elements of its wooden structure are not visible due to a plaster applied more recently to its walls. According to a local resource, there once used to be a Tibetan tower on top of the building, but it was removed before 1960. Despite many recent interventions, this building stands magnificently amid its surroundings. The old entrance doors on the west have been replaced with two new doors in the eastern wall. The old entrances have two pentagonal foyers that break the linearity of the building, and further enhance the value of its form. This jama’at khana has a flat wooden roof and a carved fascia board around the parapet walls of the building.
The building has a verandah on three of its sides, rather uncommon in the traditional local architecture of Hunza. The verandah features delicate latticework as well as carved wooden arches, likely drawing inspiration from some of the older mosques in Hunza. Jafferies and two pentagonal entrance foyers are important features of the historic jama’at khana.
State of Conservation:
The local community has tried to restore this building on a few occasions, but their lack of training and resources has done more harm to the building than good. A coat of newly cemented plaster, among other structural changes, has taken away from this historic jama’at khana its original outlook. However, it is not too late for a more organised effort, and the local community supports this.
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