The ongoing development of new Jamatkhanas in the northern areas of Pakistan has constituted the ground breaking of four new Jamatkhanas in Gilgit-Baltistan and Upper Chitral. The new spaces allocated are seismic-resistant and will serve as a multipurpose space for the community.

Built on high altitudes, the Jamatkhanas will be constructed in collaboration with local communities who are assisting in the transportation of local material, stones and other necessary items used in construction. To address the harsh winter and other challenges posed by the natural environment, the Jamatkhanas will be fully insulated with heaters.

AlKarim Jamatkhana in the Ishkoman Puniyal region will be the largest of the four. It will meet the needs of the Jamat in many ways. Besides the prayer hall and two educational halls, the Jamatkhana will also have a multipurpose hall which will be used for developing the capacity of the local community.

Dado Khan, President, Ismaili Council for Ishkoman Puniyal, explained that “There are many unique features in the newly constructed Jamatkhanas. Particularly in the AlKarim Jamatkhana, benches are being constructed that will help with social inclusion, a walking track for healthy activities as well as a ramp for senior citizens and the physically-disabled members of the Jamat. Similarly, in the playgroup rooms, a multipurpose area is being developed that will be conducive in promoting learning activities amongst ECD groups as well as developing leadership skills of the Jamat.” -

The second Jamatkhana in Himachal Village, Ishkoman Puniyal region will have a prayer hall and two rooms for community engagements. The other two Jamatkhanas, one located in Khuz Darmiyan of Upper Chitral and the other in Gareth of Hunza, will have a prayer hall and two rooms for Jamati engagements.

“The construction of a new state-of-the-art Jamatkhana at Gareth, with the allied facilities of REC, offices and an open prayer hall, right in the heart of Central Hunza, will definitely be an addition to the quality construction of Imamati structures. It is hoped that the Jamat will materially and spiritually benefit from the environment created by the new Jamatkhana at Gareth.”

Experts at the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) conducted Hazard Vulnerability Risk Assessments at all sites in order to ensure safe zones for Jamatkhana construction. The Jamatkhana structures have used flexible, Building and Construction Improvement Programme (BACIP) galvanised wire which adjusts to the contours of uneven stone masonry, thus providing seismic resistance.

Imtiaz Alam, President, Ismaili Council for Upper Chitral highlighted that “The new Jamatkhana in Khuz Darmiyan is the first of its kind and an example for the community and other Jamatkhanas to be constructed. The material that will be used in the construction is unique and reflects the local culture.”

The new Jamatkhanas will not only create a space for the Jamat to gather for prayer, learning and social functions, they will also act as shelters in the event of a natural disaster. Through sharing of best practices, these spaces will also encourage the Jamat and neighbouring communities to adopt similar construction practices in their own buildings.