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upon. The Qadam Rasuls are symbols of more religious reverence than of architecture, and the Idgah at Dhanmondi being renovated has lost much of it’s original character.

3.2.1 Mosques

If architecture is thought to be the greatest achievement of Muslim artistic activities, the mosque the key element of it, should, in all considerations, be regarded as it’s supreme triumph. Excavations, field surveys, researches and studies done at the institutional as well as private initiatives and their publications in the form of reports, monographs, gazetteers and books have revealed that in all ages throughout the entire Muslim world mosque had been erected so abundantly by the rulers and the members of the ruling family, the officials, the nobles and the private persons alike that no other Muslim building-form can equal it not only in number but also in majesty and grandeur. The religious piety and also a strong desire for personal glorification of the builders were perhaps responsible for the erection of such a relatively large number of mosques throughout the Islamic world. The Mughal Bengal was no exception and as such a large majority of the extant Mughal buildings of the land are mosques.

The Mughal conquest of Bengal, as stated in Chapter-2 of the Mughal Architecture, brought a change in the building art of the land. This change was noticed not only in plan, but also in decoration, now austere and simple in comparison to that of the Sultanate period. This simplicity of design may be attributed to the fact that the Bengal governors of the Mughals did not introduce here any new style, rather copied the Mughal forms and techniques to make it just a provincialised version of the Mughal imperial architecture. But this does not mean that the older art tradition of the land was wholly avoided and ignored. As a result the large varieties of Mughal mosques in Bengal, not unlike those of the preceding Sultanate period, are all of the covered type without the addition of riwaqs around the sahn. The type appears to have been certainly dictated by the climatic condition of the region, particularly the heavy rainfall which would create sewerage problem within the courtyard of the mosque itself. And as such mosques on standard plan were not erected in Bengal save the only exception the Adina Mosque (1375) at Hazrat Pandua in Maldah which was built on an experimental basis. Very often the mosque is fronted by an open plastered platform or a grassy court, and the whole is enclosed by an outer wall with an arched gateway in the east or in the other sides. And for ablution, a pre-prayer requisite, the mosque is always attached with a tank on any of it’s sides, preferably on the east. Since however Bengal is located directly to the east of the Kaba at Mecca the western wall of the mosque here has been invariably recessed with mihrab niches, the direction of prayer. The locally available brick, together with lime and mortar, was the chief building material of the time. Nevertheless a few of the mosques furnish examples of their door-frames and mimbars being made of black basalt. It may again be noted here that a very few examples of North Bengal, particularly of Maldah and Rajmahal, have their outer walls been encased with stones collected definitely from the nearby Rajmahal



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Sherpur: Kherua Mosque ground plan (1582)

hills. Wood is also known to have been used but very sparingly as beams for supporting the flat roof.

The present study aims at confining to the listed ninety-six mosques erected within a period of about two hundred years beginning from 1576, the year of the Mughal conquest of Bengal, to 1765, the year which virtually marked the introduction of the British Colonial rule in the country. The list of these mosques, some of which are now in utter ruins, some have lost much of their original appearance and characteristics due to unscientific and thoughtless enlargements and extensions and some are still in good repairs by the successive Departments of Archaeology, should not in any way be taken as an exhaustive one. In the following pages a short review of these mosques with emphasis on their ground plans and characteristic features has been attempted under two major heads– Early Mughal Examples and Developed Mughal Style, which, it seems, will help forming an idea of the glorious cultural heritage of Bengal.

Early Mughal Examples

The victory at the battle of Rajmahal in 1576 gave the Mughals a footing on the soil of Bengal. But they had to wait for about the next half a century for the establishment of a stable rule throughout the country because of the confederated armed resistance of some renegade Mughal nobles, the Afghan chiefs and the Bara Bhuiyans. The unstable political situation of the period was not therefore conducive to the undertaking of any large scale building activities. And as such only a few monuments are known exhibiting a gradual transformation of the older Sultanate building style to the developed Mughal style just as we find in Upper India a transition from the sand­ stone architecture of Akbar to the marble architecture of Shahjahan. The process of this transformation ultimately resulted in the production of a synthesis of the preceding Sultanate building styles of Bengal and the imperial Mughal art traditions of North India, the substantiating examples of which have been recorded below in chronological order.

Chatmohar Mosque in Pabna; and Kherua Mosque at Sherpur, Bogra. Built entirely of brick both the Chatmohar Mosque and the Kherua Mosque, each about 30 km. apart from the other, are of the same plan, same design and of almost the same measurement. The Chatmohar Mosque, built in 1581-82 by a renegade Mughal captain Masum Khan Kabuli who had then assumed the title of Sultan as revealed in the inscription of the mosque, has an external measurement of 18.28m by 8.22m while the Kherua Mosque, erected in 1582 by one of Masum Khan Kabuli’s the then allies Mirza Murad Khan Qaqshal, is exteriorly 17.67m by 7.62m and both of them have massive walls of about 2m thick.

Each of these mosques, the exterior angles of which are emphasised with massive

octagonal towers carried upto the bent cornices of the roof, has five two-centred pointed archways– three on the eastern façade and only one on each of the north and


south sides. Corresponding to the three eastern archways, of which the central one slightly larger, there are three half round mihrab niches with engrailings in their faces inside the qibla wall. The central mihrab, like the central archway, is also slightly bigger than it’s counterparts. The spaces in and around the mihrabs and archways are still depicted with terracotta ornamentation showing rosettes, cusped arch motifs, kanjuras and different leafy patterns. The two wide arches rising from the massive brick pilasters divide the elongated interior hall of the mosque into three equal square bays, each being covered with an inverted tumbler-shaped dome and the phase of transition for the dome is achieved by means of corbelled brick pendentives, popularly called Bengali pendentives formed-off oversailing courses of bricks set corner-wise and edge-wise giving an appearance of a honeycomb pattern.

The Chatmohar and the Kherua Mosques, the two earliest existing monuments of Mughal Bengal, are important in the sense that they mark the beginning of a new era in the history of Muslim architecture in Bengal. The two buildings, although produced in the Mughal period, strongly bear the preceding Sultanate art traditions of the land. This is corroborated by the Sultanate terracotta ornamentations, the bent cornices, the two-centred pointed arches, the octagonal corner towers rising upto the roof level, the semi-circular mihrab apertures and the characteristic corbelled brick pendentives. Notwithstanding their Sultanate elements the two buildings, each being internally divided into three equal square bays with three inverted tumbler-shaped domes above, mark the introduction of a three-domed mosque style in Bengal which henceforth with elaborations and additions continued to have been very popularly built and practised in the country for centuries. The three-domed type mosque, hitherto unheard in Bengal, was already in practice in North India and even in the neighbouring country of Bihar such as the Jami Mosque (1543) and the mosque of Habash Khan (1578) at Rohtasgarh in Bihar. It is from these examples that the idea of these three-domed Bengal mosques must have been directly derived. Because the patron-builders of these Bengal mosques, particularly Masum Khan Kabuli was very likely to have already been in acquaintance with the Bihar examples while he was fighting there before against the Afghans as one of the Mughal captains of Akbar.

Qutb Shahi Mosque at Pandua, Maldah. Erected in 1582-83 by a descendant of the famous Saint Nur Qutb Alam, the mosque lies in between the tomb of the saint and the Eklakhi Mausoleum at Hazrat Pandua in Maldah. Although built in the Mughal period, it is in appearance a Sultanate mosque of the Gaur type with the exception of the cupolas over the corner towers. The cupolas, which are not the characteristics of the towers of the Sultanate design, are suggested to have been of later addition to Mughalise the structure.

The materials of the mosque are brick in the core and plain stone slabs outside and as such it is, in appearance, much like the Bara Sona Masjid of Gaur. With an outside dimensions of 25.10m by 11.50m the mosque is internally divided into two north­


south aisles and five bays by multifaceted stone pillars. The number of domes therefore were ten in all which were built on brick pendentives. There are five two­ centred pointed archways in the east and two on each of the north and south sides. The qibla wall has five mihrabs with engrailed arches at the top, now dilapidated, and a high pulpit on the north side of the central mihrab, exactly similar to that in the Adina Mosque. The decoration of the mosque consists of string moldings running round the corner towers above the door panels and below the curved cornice above, and rosettes on the spandrels of arches.

The mosque is sometimes also called ‘Sona Masjid’ because of it’s domes were

supposed to have gilding like those of the Bara Sona and Chhota Sona Mosques of Gaur-Lakhnauti.

Jami Mosque at Old Maldah. The mosque has been built in the southern part of the old Maldah town, about 4.5km to the north of the citadel of Gaur and viewed very distinctly from the Nimsarai Tower on the confluence of the Kalindi and Mahananda rivers. It’s plan is typically Mughal, already developed in North India, and consists of a rectangular prayer chamber surrounded by an enclosure wall with a paved courtyard in front. The courtyard has in the centre a cistern probably with a fountain with three steps for descent. The mosque premise is entered through a gateway in the middle of the eastern enclosure wall, which is almost similar to the entrance portal of the prayer chamber.

The prayer chamber or the mosque proper, strengthened with octagonal towers on the exterior angles, has an outside dimension of 22m by 8m. It consists of three parts¯ two side wings with curved elevation but covered by domes with lotus finials of Mughal variety, and the central barrel-vaulted nave with a peculiar pistaq screening it’s front. The pistaq, giving the appearance of a large portal, is not in the form of an iwan¯ a characteristic feature of Mughal architecture. But it frames the central archway of Sultanate design¯ two-centred and engrailed with two flanking turrets which is typically Mughal. The cornices of the side wings, like the Sultanate mosques, are bow-curved and corner towers ring-moulded, but unlike the Sultanate monuments which are of exposed bricks the entire building is covered with plaster¯ a distinguishing feature of the Mughal architecture in Bengal.

The Maldah Jami, erected in 1595-96 by one Masum, has therefore played an important role in the formation and development of the Mughal architecture in Bengal by incorporating some hitherto unknown features such as the plastering of the walls, the addition of the fronton with flanking ornamental turrets and the domes with lotus and kalasa finials as crowning elements.

Rajmahal Jami, Rajmahal. Situated about 6 km west of modern Rajmahal town the

mosque is now in utter ruins. Nevertheless enough of it still survives, which together with it’s sketch plan and elevational design drawn by Buchanan-Hamilton in the early years of the 19th century can help us to have an idea of it’s original form and design.


it’s plan is typically Mughal and consists of a rectangular prayer chamber surrounded by an enclosure wall of 152m east-west and 67m north-south with a gateway in the east, now disappeared. The huge courtyard infront of the prayer chamber has still in the centre a large hawd with steps for descent. Built on a slightly raised platform the prayer chamber, measuring 67m north-south and 20m east-west, is emphasised on the exterior angles with octagonal towers carried high above the roof and topped over with cupolas in Mughal fashion. The façade is marked with seven large four-centred pointed archways, of which the central one gives an appearance of a high arched pistaq with ornamental turrets on either flanks. The straight parapet of the entire structure was crowned with kanjuras a characteristic of Mughal architecture. The interior consists of a large barrel-vaulted central nave flanked by two side wings. Each wing is divided into two aisles by massive brick piers and the resulting bays are covered with domes on Bengali pendentives. To the extreme north and south within the prayer chamber are four individual rooms in the east-west alignment, which were double storeyed. Such an internal arrangement is not seen before or after in Bengal, but very similar to that of Akbar’s Fathpur-Sikri Jami.

Although uninscribed, it is traditionally considered to have been built by Akbar’s governor Raja Mansingh (1595-1605) as the Jami‘ Masjid of Bengal’s new capital, Rajmahal. Such an extra-ordinarily enormous mosque, built in combination of imperial

Mughal and local Bengali styles, was certainly intended for an official Mughal-claim Rajmahal Jami Masjid

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Tangail: Atiya Masjid,

ground plan


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Tenga Masjid, Iswaripur (Satkhira) ground plan

to Bengal, for the Mughal authority in Bengal was then challenged actively by the confederated powers of the renegade Mughal nobles, the Afghan chiefs and the Bara Bhuiyans. Although however the Rajmahal Jami appears to have been in many ways a larger version of it’s contemporary Old Maldah Jami, yet it introduced some such hitherto unknown features as the four-centred archways, the straight parapet with kanjuras and the corner towers carried much beyond the parapets which were later on very commonly used in the developed style of Mughal architecture in Bengal.

Atiya Masjid, Tangail. With an outside dimension of 21m from east to west and 12m from north to south the mosque, according to a Persian inscription still fixed over the central archway in the eastern façade, was erected in 1609 by Zamindar Sayyid Khan Panni of Karatiya in Tangail. In it’s ground plan, consisting of a single-domed square prayer chamber and a three-domed verandah in the east and in other peculiarities such as curved cornices, terracotta ornamentations, semi-circular mihrab niches, two­ centred pointed archways, squinches and corbelled brick pendentives for domed supports the mosque appears to be a copy of a number of such Sultanate examples of Bengal as the Khania Dighi Mosque (1435-1487) in Nawabganj, Gopalganj Mosque (1460) in Dinajpur, the Lottan Masjid (1493-1519) in Gaur, the Shankarpasha Mosque (1493-1519) in Sylhet and the Navagram Mosque (1526) in Pabna. But the high octagonal drums with kanjuras or merlons below the domes, hitherto unheard in Bengal, and the solid plastered kiosks with cupolas and lotus finials over the corner towers on the exterior angles are characteristics of Mughal architecture. The Atiya Masjid thus illustrates a combination of the Mughal elements with the pre-Mughal features of Bengal.

Iswaripur Mosque, Satkhira. Located near a Mughal hammam at Iswaripur in modern Satkhira District the mosque, once badly damaged, is now in good repair but without many of it’s original features. The exterior angles of the building were originally strengthened with heavy towers, now disappeared leaving only their bases in situ. It is a large rectangular structure measuring 41m north-south and 11m east- west and the walls are about 2.10m thick. The eastern façade has five four-centred archways and corresponding to them there are five semi-circular mihrab apertures inside the qibla wall. The central archway and the central mihrab, being larger than their counterparts, depict outward rectangular projections which must have been originally bounded by ornamental turrets. The interior consists of five independent square apartments, each being separated from the other by walls but interconnected by archways exactly in the same alignment of the archway on the extremenorth and south walls of the mosque. Such an interior disposition in a mosque is peculiar and possibly unheard in Bengal. Each of these apartments, the central one being bigger, is roofed over with a dome on squinches and Bengali pendentives and crowned with lotus and kalasa finial. The parapets are horizontal in Mughal tradition.


The mosque is uninscribed, but two traditions are current as to it’s date of erection. According to one tradition it was built by Raja Protapaditya for his Muslim supporters, while the other ascribes it to Akbar’s governor Raja Mansingh (1595-1605). The latter view appears unreasonable since Jessore-Khulna region was beyond Mughal control during Akbar’s time (1556-1605). The former legend can not absolutely be ruled out. But it is more probable that it might have been built by someone who was stationed there after the final defeat of Protapaditya by Subahdar Islam Khan in 1612.

Developed Mughal Style

The crushing defeat of the refractory Afghan chieftains and the Bara Bhuiyans

together with the transfer of capital from Rajmahal to Dhaka by Islam Khan (1608­

13) marked the beginning of a new era in the history of Mughal rule in Bengal. It is at the instance of this dynamic and iron-willed Subahdar Islam Khan that a permanent Mughal rule ensued, a unified administrative system was established and peace was ensured throughout the country. Such an atmosphere of peace and stable rule thus created by Islam Khan continued unabated for about the next one hundred years or more under some such energetic and competent Subahdars as Prince Shah Shuja (1639-59), Shayesta Khan (1663-78, 1679-88) and Murshid Quli Khan (1717-1727). The immediate effect of the change was that merchants and business magnets, craftsmen and artisans, renowned scholars and men of different other professions started pouring into Bengal. There was therefore an all round development in the country. Industries developed, trade and commerce flourished, and learning and culture encouraged. Along with these the building activities became larger in volume than that of the early Mughal rule and erected throughout the country with an abundance, for obvious reasons, in three capital cities of Dhaka, Rajmahal and Murshidabad, and they were built mainly in imitation of the Mughal imperial style. This is corroborated by a large number of extant erections, and also by the accounts recorded in Mirza Nathan’s Baharistan-i-Ghayibi and the accounts of the foreign travellers like N. Manucci, Sebastian Manrique, Thomas Bowrey, J.B. Tavernier and others.

The surviving examples representing the developed Mughal style are all dated from about the middle of the 17th century and are characterised by some such hitherto unknown features as the bulbous outline of the domes constricted at their necks, the four-centred archways under high half-domed vaults, the iwan-like axially projected frontons, the Persian origin muqarnas works in stucco covering the inside of the half- domed vaults of entrance ways and the mihrab niches and the round pendentives below the domes, the immense rectangular wall panellings and the straight parapets depicted invariably with kanjuras or blind merlons. It is interesting to note here that some of the buildings of the period, erected in the countryside and in some less important urban centres, were so largely influenced by such indigenous elements as the hut-shaped roof, curvilinear cornices, naked brick surface of the walls with


terracotta ornamentation and the corbelled brick pendentives for domed support that they appear, at anyone’s first sight, to be the productions of the preceding Sultanate period. The employment of the local craftsmen and also the love for the Bengali culture of the patron-builders might have been the reasons of incorporating the indigenous elements in these Mughal buildings. Be that as it may, in the declining days of the Mughal empire, more particularly after the death of Emperor Aurangzeb in 1707 the influence of the European building art started appearing in the Mughal monuments of Murshidabad. The Mughal four-centred type arches were being replaced by the European round-shaped ones, noticed for the first time in Murshid Quli Khan’s Katra Masjid (1724-25) at Murshidabad. In the subsequent Bengal architecture of the Mughal and also of the Colonial period European building designs and techniques continued appearing frequently as evidenced by the repeated use of round arches occasionally with cuspings, the fan windows, the shuttered doorways, the fan motifs and floral arabesque designs on thickly applied plaster ornaments.

Monuments belonging to the developed Mughal style are of different kinds of which, as has been stated earlier, a large majority are mosques and they, of course the extant ones, produce varieties of types. A typological study of them has therefore been attempted under the following major heads:

Standard Three-Domed Type

Three-domed prayer chamber, noticed for the first time in India during the Lodi and Suri Periods such as the Bara Gumbad Masjid (1494) and the Moth-ki-Masjid (1505) at Delhi and the Rohtashgarh Mosque (1543) in Bihar, appears to have been an elaboration of the Persian iwan-i-karkha type mosque consisting of a barrel-vaulted structure with a dome in the centre. The type continued under the imperial Mughals and their great Jami Masjids at Delhi, Agra, Fathpur-Sikri and Lahore are all distinguished by a three-domed prayer chamber with the central dome being much bigger than the side ones. The Mughal three-domed prayer chamber was at times regarded as a perfect mosque plan by itself and was kept as such without the addition of riwaqs in some of the most beautiful mosques such as the Moti Masjid in the Delhi Fort and the Sunehri Mosque also at Delhi. It is therefore natural that the type was brought in Bengal by the Mughals during their rule. But the early examples, excepting their three-bay divisions in the interior, were not exactly in Mughal form and design perhaps because of the employment of the local Bengali craftsmen in their constructions. The type gradually evolved and consequently became perfected and standardised. Once standardised it gained so much popularity in Bengal that a large majority of mosques of the Mughal as well as the Colonial period were built on this particular plan and design. The type however produces two important varieties¯ mosques with a larger central dome and mosques with uniform domes. Mosques of both categories have three interior bays by two wide arches and the bays of the latter category are all square of equal size covered with three equal domes on round pendentives. Of the three bays of the former variety central one is always kept larger


and square to have been roofed over with a larger dome on round pendentives, while the side ones are smaller and rectangular. In covering these side rectangles with small domes the Mughal architects adopted the following devices¯ i) generally the rectangles have first been made square above by introducing two half-domed vaults on the east and west sides and then the actual dome placed on a further series of pendentives such as to be seen in the Lalbagh Fort Mosque and many others; ii) internally the rectangles have been covered with cross-vaults but externally on each cross-vault placed a small false dome such as to be seen in the Andar Qila Masjid (1667) in Chittagong; iii) internally the rectangle has been wholly covered with a large half-domed vault but externally above the vault has been placed a small dome such as to be seen in the Bagh-i-Hamza Masjid (1682) in Chittagong. A slight variation is to be met with in Bibi Mariam Mosque (c.1680) at Narayanganj where the flanking bays, unlike the flanking smaller rectangular bays, have been cleverly made smaller and square by thickening the side walls to be provided with a comparatively smaller domes and this is the only known example of it’s kind in Bengal. A short review of these mosques, as stated above, is recorded below under two sub-heads.

a. Mosques with a Larger Central Dome

Islam Khan Masjid, Dhaka. Situated at 38 Sayyid Aulad Hasan Lane in Old Dhaka the mosque has suffered much due to subsequent enlargements and repair works. Two storeyed extensions have been added in the east and south sides, projected fronton of the central archway removed, and the original plaster coating replaced by modern cement plaster with touch of distemper and all the three eastern archways widened. Strengthening the exterior angles the octagonal towers are carried high above the roof terminating in solid kiosks and cupolas with kalasa finials as the crown. The qibla wall, corresponding to the three archways in the façade, is marked with three mihrab niches, of which the central one is semi-octagonal and larger than it’s counterparts of rectangular design. The central mihrab projection has still preserved flanking ornamental turrets rising high above the roof like the corner towers. Of the three interior divisions the central one is bigger and square covered with a dome on round pendentives. In covering the flanking rectangles with domes a clever trick has been adopted¯ a device hitherto unknown and henceforth continued to have been repeatedly used in Bengal. With a view to creating a circular base for the dome the upper regions of the rectangles have been converted into square by erecting half-domed vaults on the east and west walls and these half-domed vaults together with a further series of pendentives on the corners directly support the flanking small domes.

Although uninscribed, the mosque is traditionally ascribed to Subahdar Islam Khan (1608-13). But it’s surviving features such as the semi-octagonal mihrab suggest a later date. The earliest dated erection to exhibit a semi-octagonal mihrab aperture is the Idgah (1640) on the Satmasjid Road in Dhaka city. It may therefore be said to have been built sometime around 1640, possibly during the governorship of Islam Khan Mashhadi (1635-39) who was also a reputed builder.


Nava Rai Lane Mosque, Dhaka. This small three-domed structure has been so changed that it now appears to be a new building. The central semi-octagonal mihrab niche seems to be the only surviving original feature of the mosque. By removing the domical roof and the eastern wall it has been made in the recent past a two-storeyed structure. A.H. Dani has described that the ‘façade is panelled, each panel containing ogee arches. The central doorway has multi-cusped arch, while those of the side are trifoil. The parapet seems to be a new construction as the merlons are of degenerate type. The interior has three mihrabs and is further decorated with panels.’ In it’s semi- octagonal mihrab and the panellings in the façade the mosque resembles the Idgah (1640) on the Satmasjid road in Dhaka, and as such a mid-17th century date may be suggested for the building.

So-Called Akbari Mosque, Rajmahal. Although a modern verandah has been added to the eastern façade, the mosque is still in a good repair with much of it’s original features intact. Emphasised with corner towers of Mughal design this rectangular structure is roofed over with three domes, of which the central one is kept traditionally larger than it’s flanking counterparts. All the domes, with a view to gaining additional height, are placed on octagonal drums and topped over with floriated finials. Each of the three eastern doorways opens out under a high four-centred archway, the underside of which is of half-domed design. Both the central archway and the central mihrab have the usual rectangular projections in the outside directions, each being marked with ornamental turret on either flanks. The entire building is plastered over and the straight parapet is depicted with typical Mughal kanjuras. But what of the building deserves special mention is it’s beautiful muqarnas works in stucco, noticed in the inside of the half-domes over the doorways and mihrab niches, and in the round pendentives under the central dome.

The mosque is traditionally ascribed to the time of Emperor Akbar, but the building is far advanced in style. It’s faceted stucco work or the muqarnas, compared to those of the Bara Katra (1644) at Dhaka, and it’s close proximity to the Sangi Dalan, which originally formed part of Shah Shuja’s palace complex at Rajmahal, are suggestive that it could have been erected by Shah Shuja sometime in the middle of the 17th century. Sirsi Mosque, Rajmahal. Known locally as Sirsi Mosque and located in the Begumpur area of Rajmahal this large three-domed rectangular structure, now covered all over with plants and other vegetation growth, is enclosed by a low outer wall with an arched gateway in the east. Of the three four-centred archways in the façade the central one gives the iwan-like appearance with usual but badly damaged ornamental turrets on either side. The central mihrab projection on the rear has also the similar flanking turrets. The octagonal corner towers, divided by moulded bands at intervals, are carried much beyond the horizontal parapet and topped over with solid kiosks and cupolas. But what traces of muqarnas works remain in the mihrabs and in the inside

of the half-domed vaults over the entrance ways recall the faceted stucco work of the mid-17th century Sangi Dalan and the so-called Akbari Mosque. On ground of


stylistic similarity the Sirsi Mosque may therefore be said to have been erected by Shah Shuja in and around the middle of the 17th century when Rajmahal enjoyed the status of the capital of Bengal.

Raushan Mosque, Rajmahal. This is an abandoned mosque, now covered with

plants and vegetation growth. It consists of a rectangular interior hall divided into three bays by two wide arches on engaged brick pillars. The three domes, covering interior hall, are still intact in ruinous condition. Of the three four-centred archways in the eastern façade the central one is much bigger and has still preserved the iwan-like appearance with traces of flanking turrets. The half-domed vaults under the high entrance arches and those above the semi-octagonal mihrab niches, and round pendentives below the central dome are still depicted with beautiful stucco ornamentation resembling net-patterns.

Like many other mosques in Rajmahal, the Raushan Mosque is also uninscribed. In plan and ornamentation it bears a strong similarity with the so-called Akbari Mosque near the Sangi Dalan and the Sirsi Mosque datable to the middle of the 17th century. A mid-17th century date, on ground of stylistic similarity, may therefore be suggested for the Raushan Mosque.

Shah Shuja Mosque, Comilla. Enclosed by an outer wall with a gateway in the middle of the east side the mosque is located at Mughaltuli called Shujaganj in the town of comilla. The mosque proper is a rectangular structure with an outside dimension of 17m north-south and 8m east-west. The four octagonal corner towers, rising high above the straight merloned parapet, are topped over by cupolas with lotus and kalasa finials. There are five four-centred archways- three in the east and one on each of the north and south sides. The qibla wall is internally recessed with three mihrabs- the central one semi-octagonal and bigger than it’s flanking counterparts of rectangular design. The three interior bays are covered with domes on octagonal drums. Crowned with lotus and kalasa finials all the domes are carried on the system formed in combination of round pendentives and half-domed vaults like all other earlier examples of it’s kind in Dhaka and Rajmahal. The central archway and the central mihrab each has rectangular projection in the outside direction with bordering turrets.

It is assumed that one Mughal fauzdar, who had his seat of administration at Meherkul identified with modern Comilla town, erected and named it after the reigning Subahdar Shah Shuja. And the style of the building corroborates it.

Walipur Shah Shuja Mosque, Comilla. Known after the village of walipur under Hajiganj Thana in the district of Comilla the mosque is now in a bad state of preservation. All the corner towers have disappeared, and cracks developed over the domed roof. Nevertheless it still retains much of it’s original characteristics. With an outside dimension of 14m by 7m the mosque has three four-centred archways in the eastern façade and only one on each side. Corresponding to the eastern archways there are three mihrab niches inside the qibla wall, the central one being bigger and semi-


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Comilla: Walipur Alamgiri Masjid (1656), ground plan



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Shayesta Khan Mosque,

ground plan

octagonal. Of the three eastern archways opening out under high half-domed vaults, the central one gives an iwan-like appearance like those of the buildings ascribed to Shah Shuja in Rajmahal. The three domes on octagonal drums, covering the three bays below, are crowned with lotus and kalasa finials.

It is locally said that a Persian inscription of the mosque, now missing, recorded it’s construction by one Shahriyar Abdullah in honour of the reigning Subahdar Shah Shuja in 1656. There may be some truth in the statement, for the mosque compares well with other erections of Shah Shuja in Bengal.

Mohagun Toli Mosque, Rajmahal. Greatly overgrown with vegetation this ruinous mosque is situated along the road leading from Shah Shuja’s palace to Sakrigulli, one of the few passes through the Rajmahal Hills to modern Bengal. Consisting of the usual three-bayed prayer chamber with three domes on octagonal drums over the roof this rectangular building was entirely covered with plaster, now peeled-off at many places. Of the three four-centred archways in the façade, each opening out under a high half-domed vault, the central one is given prominence by making it comparatively bigger with bordering turrets, now badly damaged. The beautiful muqarnas works in stucco are still seen in the half-domed vaults of archways, in the round pendentives below the domes and also in the half-domed vault over the semi- octagonal mihrab niche suggesting a mid-17th century date for the building.

Shayesta Khan Mosque, Dhaka. This three-domed mosque, restored and repaired by the Public Works Department after an accidental fire possibly in early years of the 20th century and now thoroughly renovated with an ugly verandah in the east, is located on the river Buriganga behind the Mitford Hospital, now Salimullah Medical College in the locality of Babubazar. With an outside dimension of 14m by 7.62m the building contains all the peculiarities of the three-domed style mosques of the day but with a slight variation. Unlike many of it’s contemporaries, the corner towers here are erected within the thickness of the walls- a technique consequently noticed in the Bibi Mariam Mosque (c.1680) at Narayanganj, the Bakhshi Hamid Mosque (c.1692) in Chittagong and the Azimpura Mosque (1746) at Dhaka.

A Persian inscription, still fixed in the mosque, reveals that it was erected by Subahdar Shayesta Khan. Since a portion of the inscription bearing date is broken, it’s exact date of erection is not known. But it is supposed to have been built around 1666 CE, for in that year the French traveller Tavernier visited Dhaka and had an audience with Shayesta Khan who had been living then in his wooden palace at Babubazar and transferred his residence to the Lalbagh Fort only during his second term of rule in Bengal (1679-88).

Andar Qila Mosque, Chittagong. The mosque today stands in the busiest part of the

city of Chittagong occupying the top of a hill called Andar Qila, meaning the innerfort. Although multi-storeyed extensions have been made in the sides the building has still preserved it’s original layout intact. Measuring internally 17m from north to south and 7m from east to west, the mosque is in plan and other details a copy


of a number of examples of it’s kind scattered over in different parts of the country but with one important variation. Unlike other examples, it’s flanking rectangular bays of the prayer chamber are covered with a kind of roof giving the appearance of a cross- vault from inside but in the outside on each cross-vault there is a small false dome. This is a lone example of it’s kind during the entire Mughal period, but an instance is known of the Sultanate period such as to be seen in the Gopalganj Mosque (1460) in Dinajpur consisting of a single– domed prayer chamber and a cross-vaulted verandah in the east.

This is the earliest extant Mughal building in Chittagong erected after it’s conquest by Shayesta Khan and it’s date of construction, according a Persian inscription still in the façade of the mosque, is 1667 CE.

Khwaja Ambar Mosque, Dhaka. This elegant three-domed mosque, now tarnished to a great extent by the thoughtless repairs and multi-storeyed extensions on the sides, was erected in 1677-78 by an Iranian business magnet Khwaja Ambar who is also credited to have constructed such other structures as a Sarai Khana, a garden and a bridge, all now disappeared, in and around Kawran Bazar in the city of Dhaka. The three-domed prayer chamber, with an outside dimension of 13.4m and 6.7m has been built on the western end of a 3.65m high solidly built masonry plinth approached by a flight of steps and an arched-gateway in the east. In plan and design it is typical of other three-domed mosques of the time. But two aspects of the building deserve special mention. It’s doorways, mihrabs and minbar are made of stone instead of bricks. The other peculiarity is that it’s flanking archways in the façade, like the central one, are marked with bordering ornamental turrets henceforth started appearing frequently in the mosques of the subsequent period.

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Lalbagh Fort Mosque, Dhaka. The building, having it’s every element very judiciously distributed, furnishes the most perfect example of a three-domed type mosque of it’s kind initiated in Bengal

long ago. Occupying the back of a slightly raised platform on the extreme west within the Lalbagh Fort the mosque, dated 1678-79, forms an oblong rectangle giving an outside measurement of 19m. from north to south and 9m. from east to west. The four angles of the building are emphasised with octagonal towers terminating in typical Mughal plastered kiosks and cupolas, slightly bulbous in outline. The eastern façade, excepting the arched-openings, are entirely embellished with rectangular panels each containing multi-cusped


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Lalbagh Fort Mosque (1678-79), ground plan


Half section and Half evation, Lalbagh Fort Mosque


arches in imperial Mughal design. Of the three eastern doorways, each opening out under a high multi-cusped arch with it’s underside being half-domed in design, the central one gives the appearance of a typical Mughal iwan-gateway with bordering turrets. The rear of the central mihrab is also marked with a rectangular projection with bordering turrets. The ribbed bulbous domes with the side ones slightly constricted at their necks, hitherto unseen in Bengal, cover the three bays below and are placed on octagonal drums ornamented with blind merlons. The straight parapet is also faced with same kind of blind merlons. The larger central dome, covering the larger central square bay, is internally carried on round pendentives. But in covering the smaller rectangular bays with domes a clever trick has been resorted to by introducing half-domed vaults on the east and west sides as an intermediary stage on which the actual dome springs on a further series of pendentives a device which had made it’s first appearance in Bengal architecture through Islam Khan Mosque (c. mid­ 17th century) at Dhaka. The entire building is plastered over and the half-domed vaults over eastern archways and the mihrab niches are beautifully ornamented with muqarnas in stucco.

Bibi Mariam Mosque, Narayanganj. In and around 1680 Subahdar Shayesta Khan is said to have erected this mosque and a tomb beside in memory of his daughter Bibi Mariam in the locality of Hajiganj at Narayanganj. The mosque appears to be a copy of the earlier examples of the type a larger central dome flanked by a smaller one on each side, but there are a few differences. The corner towers here are erected within the thickness of the walls it’s only earlier example being Shayesta Khan Mosque at Babu Bazar in Dhaka and found later on only in the Bakhshi Hamid Mosque in Chittagong. And again unlike the smaller side rectangular bays of the previous examples, the flanking bays here are of square in size. It’s a bit difficult task to cover a rectangular space with a dome and how the Mughal architects solved the problem was pointed out earlier. With a view to avoiding this problem the flanking smaller bays of the Bibi Mariam Mosque have been very cleverly kept square by thickening the side walls. The technique however did not find favour with the Mughal architects, for it did not appear anymore in Bengal.

Satgumbad Masjid, Dhaka. Occupying the western end of a slightly raised platform the Satgumbad Masjid meaning the ‘Seven-Domed Mosque’ is located in the Muhammadpur area in the city of Dhaka. The four hollow double-storeyed domed corner towers, similar to those of the Husaini Dalan (1642) and the Bara Katra (1644) in the old town of Dhaka, have enhanced the overall beauty of the mosque leading the scholars to call it ‘the most innovative of all the Dhaka Mughal-period monuments’. Excepting it’s unusually massive octagonal corner towers the building in every detail such as the three-domed prayer chamber, the rectangular panellings in the façade, the iwan-like central archway, the graceful merloned-frieze in the outer face of octagonal drums below the domes and also in the straight parapet all round, and the chaste faceted stucco works in the mihrabs and also in the half-domed vaults of the archways,


MEDIAEVAL PERIOD 279

is identical with the Lalbagh Fort Mosque (1678-79) in Dhaka. A date around 1680 has

therefore been stylistically suggested for the Satgumbad Masjid.

Bagh-i-Hamza Mosque, Chittagong. Erected by one Hamza Khan, son of Sayyid

Shamshir, in 1682 and now thoroughly repaired with large extensions on the north and

east sides the mosque is situated in an old Muhallah called Bagh-i-Hamza on the

Chittagong-Hathazari Road about 3km north of Panchlaish thana in Chittagong. Built

entirely of brick the original building is marked with octagonal corner towers rising

high above the roof and three renovated archways in the east of which the central one

with bordering turrets still showing it’s prominence in the usual Mughal fashion. Of the

three renovated semi-octagonal mihrabs the central one, being traditionally bigger than

it’s counterparts, has the usual rectangular projection on the rear with bordering turrets

carried far beyond the horizontal parapet depicting small cupolas with kalasa finials.

In the interior the larger central square bay is roofed over with a big dome, while it’s

flanking rectangular bay is entirely covered with a large half-domed vault but in the

outside there is a small false dome on each half-domed vault. This is the earliest dated

Mughal mosque in Bengal where the flanking rectangular bays are entirely covered

with large half-domed vaults, noticed later on in a few examples of Chittagong such as

Mahmud Khan Mosque (1688) and the Bakhshi Hamid Mosque (1692).

Mahmud Khan Mosque, and Bakhshi Hamid Mosque, Chittagong. In plan and in different constructional peculiarities both Mahmud Khan Mosque and Bakhshi Hamid

Dhaka: Satgumbad Masjid

Photo: ABM Hussain (1962)


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Mosque appear to be copies of the aforesaid Bagh-i-Hamza Mosque. Thoroughly restored and repaired with multi-storeyed extensions at the sides the original Mahmud Khan Mosque, erected in 1688, is situated in the locality of Pahartali, a little to the west of Dewanhat Overbridge in Chittagong. Built in 1692 the Bakhshi Hamid Mosque, now a protected monument of the Department of Archaeology, is located in the village of Hilsha under Banshkhali thana in the district of Chittagong.

Patharghata Mosque, Munshiganj. This thoroughly renovated building, dated 1690-91 by a Persian inscription, is in the locality of Patharghata under Serajdi Khan thana in the district of Munshiganj. Consisting of a three-domed prayer chamber, with an outside measurement of 10m by 6m the Patharghata Mosque represents in all respects the late 17th century building style of Bengal.

Anowar Shahid Mosque, Burdwan. The well known building complex of Khwaja Anowar Shahid in Burdwan, enclosed by an outer wall with two gateways, consists of a mausoleum incorporating within the graves of Anowar Shahid and his fellow martyrs, a large tank, a madrasa and a mosque. The mosque forms an oblong rectangle, and a chauchala vaulted verandah added later on has obscured the eastern façade of the building. The prayer chamber is surmounted by three central domes and two chauchala vaults at either ends. Such a combination of dome and chauchala vault is new in Bengal, but a number of examples of it’s kind are to be found later on in the 18th and 19th centuries. The mosque, according to an inscription, is dated 1699.

Komlahpur Mosque, Barisal. The mosque, now in good repair under custody of the Department of Archaeology, is situated in the village of Komlahpur under Gaurnadi Thana in Barisal and about 9km north-east of the well known Nine-domed Qasba Mosque. Giving an outside measurement of 17m by 8m the prayer chamber is surmounted by three domes on octagonal drums, all the domes being slightly bulbous in outline. The four octagonal corner towers rise high above the horizontal parapet terminating in kiosks with cupolas. The three eastern archways, with cuspings in their faces, are contained within rectangular frames and the central opening is usually distinguished by bordering turrets. The three semi-octagonal mihrabs are now bare but in the façade the rectangular frames of the archways are marked with terracotta ornamentation depicting floral scrolls, rosettes and net-patterns. The remaining spaces in the façade are depicted with rectangular panellings. The mosque, although uninscribed, has been stylistically dated to the late 17th century.

Shah Paran Dargah Mosque, Sylhet. Consisting of a tomb of the saint himself and a mosque within an enclosed compound the dargah of Shah Paran, occupying the top of a small hillock, lies about 8km away from Sylhet on the way to Jaintiapur. The beauty of this small three-domed mosque, datable to late 17th century, has been tarnished to a great extent because of the thoughtless enlargements on the sides.

Pakulla Mosque, Tangail. Located in the village of Pakulla under Delduar Thana in the district of Tangail and datable to the 17th or early 18th century this three-domed mosque, with an outside measurement of 14.77m by 5.8m can specially be noted for the incorporation of a dochala roofed room on it’s either side. Such an arrangement appears to be new giving the building a spectacular look.


Mariam Saleha Mosque, Dhaka. Erected in 1706 by one Mariam Saleha and located behind the Balaka Cinema Hall near the New Market this three-domed mosque has suffered much due to subsequent extension and repair works. In every details such as the bulbous outline of domes on octagonal drums, horizontal merloned parapet, prominence of the central archway, rectangular panellings in the façade the Mariam Saleha Mosque follows the late 17th century building style of Dhaka.

Bara Sharifpur Mosque, Comilla. Enclosed by an outer wall with a gateway in the east this three-domed oblong mosque, measuring 14.6m by 6m in the outside, is situated on the bank of the famous Nateswar Dighi in the village of Bara Sharifpur under Laksham Thana in Comilla. Erected in 1706-07 by one Mohammad Hayat Abdul Karim, Kotwal of the area, the mosque demonstrates the late 17th century building style of Bengal.

Bara Jamalpur Mosque, Gaibandha. Located in the village of Bara Jamalpur under Sadullahpur Thana of Gaibandha District the mosque consists of a rectangular three- domed prayer chamber giving an external measurement of 13.90m from north to south and 5.50m from east to west. One Haji Jamaluddin, a Mughal revenue officer, is locally said to have built it. The mosque is uninscribed, but it bears a strong stylistic similarity with the Dariyapur Mosque (1717-18) situated about 20km away. An early 18th century date may therefore be suggested for the building.

Bayezid Bustami Dargah Mosque, Chittagong. Datable stylistically to the early 18th century this three-domed mosque is situated in the dargah compound of Bayezid Bustami, Chittagong. With all it’s component parts like the corner towers with cupolas on the top, the iwan-like central archway with bordering ornamental turrets, rectangular penellings in the façade, kanjura designs in the parapet and in outer faces of the octagonal drums below the domes the mosque had originally a picturesque appearance, now diminished ruthlessly by the thoughtless enlargements at it’s sides.

Mosque of Mahollah J.T. Mines, Rajmahal. Designated after the locality and enclosed by an outer wall with a dilapidated gateway in the east the building is now in utter ruins covered all over with trees and plants. It is a rectangular three-domed structure with three entrances in the east, of which the central doorway still showing prominence with traces of flanking ornamental turrets. It’s stylistic similarity with the nearby Chhoti Mosque (1701-02) suggests an early 18th date century date for the mosque.

Qadam-i-Mubarak Masjid, Chittagong. This is the most beautiful and best preserved Mughal mosque in the city of Chittagong, situated on the top of a small hillock near the Andar Qila Mosque. Erected in 1723 by the then Mughal governor of Chittagong Muhammad Yasin the mosque proper consists of a three-domed prayer chamber giving an internal measurement of 11.10m by 5.30m The iwan like central archway is usually depicted with bordering ornamental turrets and the four corner towers of the prayer chamber are traditionally carried beyond the horizontal parapet ending in cupolas and kalasa finials. The three-domed prayer chamber is flanked to


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Qadam-i-Mubarak Masjid, plan


Front Elevation: Qadam-i-Mubarak Masjid (1723)



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right and left by an attached chauchala roofed square room of 4m a side. The northern one is said to have contained the footprint of the Prophet, while it’s counterpart on the south contains that of Ghaus Pak Hazrat Abdul Qadir Zilani.

Ulchapara Mosque, Brahmanbaria. About 5 km south-west of the modern Brahmanbaria town the Ulchapara Mosque has been built on a slightly raised plastered platform enclosed by a low outer wall with a gateway in the east. Dated 1730-31 by inscription the mosque, now under custody of the Department of Archaeology, forms an oblong rectangle giving the outside measurement of 12.80m from north to south and 6.70m from east to west. With slightly bulbous domes on octagonal drums over the roof, the corner towers rising high above the roof, the iwan-like central archway with bordering turrets, rectangular panellings in the façade and blind merlons in the straight parapet and in the outer faces of the drums the Ulchapara Mosque provides an example of the developed Mughal style of architecture in Bengal.

Bajra Mosque, Noakhali. Enclosed by an outer wall with an impressive gateway in the east this three-domed mosque, occupying the western half of a slightly raised plastered platform, is located in the village of Bajra under Begumganj Thana in Noakhali District. Erected by one Aman Allah in 1741-42 the building, giving an outside measurement of 16m by 7.30m, provides a typical example of a three-domed type mosque of the developed style of Mughal architecture in Bengal. But what of the building deserves special mention is that this is perhaps the first dated Mughal monument to furnish example of floral arabesque designs on thickly applied plaster coating a device which continued to have been used very frequently in decorating the monuments of Colonial Bengal.

Saif Allah Mosque, Murshidabad. With an enlargement in the east this thoroughly reconstructed structure, erected by Saif Allah in 1748, consists of a rectangular prayer


chamber surmounted by three domes on octagonal drums. The exterior angles are strengthened with octagonal towers having typical Mughal kiosks and cupolas. The three entrance ways in the façade are marked with round-cusped arches on the European model. The Mughal four-centred arches have gone out of fashion and henceforth arches were invariably of cusped-rounded design.

Safid Mosque, Murshidabad. The Safid Mosque meaning the ‘jewel-like mosque’, traditionally considered to be the product of Nawab Sirajud-daulah (1756-57), is located in the Nizamat-i-Palace compound on the left bank of the Bhagirathi-Hughli, Murshidabad. The Safid Mosque, like that of Saif Allah, bears influences from European architecture as evidenced by it’s round-cusped arches and floral designs on thick plaster coating.

b. Mosques with uniform domes

Khandakartala Mosque at Sherpur, Bogra. Erected in 1632 by one Muazzam Khan during the reign of Emperor Shahjahan the building is now thoroughly repaired. In plan and in many of it’s constructional and decorative features suh as curved cornices, semi-circular mihrab niches, corner-towers up to the roof level and terracotta ornamentation the Khandakartala Mosque, with a slight variation, appears to be the reproduction of the nearby Kherua Mosque (1582). The variation is marked by the rectangular projections of the central archway and central mihrab, noticed earlier in the Old Maldah Jami (1595-96) at Gaur.

Shah Niamatullah Wali Mosque, Gaur (Nawabganj). About a kilometre north­ west of the Chhota Sona Masjid the mosque is stylistically said to have been built by Subahdar Shah Shuja (1639-59) in honour of Saint Shah Niamatullah, who lies buried nearby. Occupying the western end of an enclosed plastered platform and giving an outside measurement of 20m by 7.62m the mosque has three equal square interior divisions roofed over with three equal domes on drums carried on round pendentives. Strengthened with octagonal corner towers and covered entirely with plaster the eastern façade of the mosque is depicted with three four-centred archways, the central one showing the usual projecting iwan. The qibla wall is internally marked with three mihrab niches, the central one being excessively high shows half-domed top and semi-octagonal aperture below. The eastern façade with merloned parapet is panelled, round pendentives below the domes and the half- domed top of the central mihrab niche are enriched with beautiful muqarnas designs in stucco.

This is perhaps the earliest existing example of a mosque with three uniform domes, providing almost all the characteristics of the developed style of Mughal architecture in Bengal. The Lalbazar Mosque at Gaur, now ruinous, and the Jumma Mosque, the best preserved building in Rajmahal today, appear to be copies of Shah Niamatullah Mosque and therefore be dated to the middle of the 17th century.


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Sherpur: Khandakartala Mosque, ground plan



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Khwaja Shahbaz Mosque (1679), ground plan

Mirzanagar Mosque, Jessore. This dilapidated three-domed mosque, now roofed over with corrugated iron-sheets, is erected within a huge walled-compound in the locality of Mirzanagar under Keshabpur Thana in the district of Jessore. Measuring internally 15m by 4.26m the mosque is fronted by a plastered court and further east is the ruinous building-complex identified with the palace of Emperor Shahjahan’s (1628-58) Fauzdar Mirza Shafshikan after whom the locality is named.

Khwaja Shahbaz Mosque, Dhaka. Erected in 1679 by a rich merchant Haji Khwaja Shahbaz of Dhaka the mosque forms an oblong rectangle measuring externally 20.72m from north to south and 7.92m from east to west. Buttressed by octagonal corner towers having ribbed cupolas on the top and roofed over by three shouldered domes with kalasa finials the eastern façade is pierced with three cusped archways, of which the central one shows the usual rectangular projection with bordering turrets. Similar projection with flanking turrets is also noticed on the back of the qibla wall corresponding to the central mihrab. The mosque’s interior, divided into three bays by two beautiful multi-cusped wide arches on twin embedded piers in imitation to those of Shahjahan’s Khas Mahal in Agra Fort and Aurangzeb’s Moti Masjid (1662) in Delhi Fort, gives a very pleasing appearance.

Kazipara Masjid, Rangpur. Built on the bank of a small tank in Kazipara Muhallah of village Dharmadas the building is about 3km south-east of Rangpur Cadet College. Due to the earthquake of 1897 the superstructure crumbled down, the octagonal corner towers partially damaged but the four walls with rectangular panellings are still standing upto the roof level. The three domes covering the roof were carried on corbelled pendentives, traces still remain. The three multi-cusped archways in the façade are within rectangular frames, which together with the corner towers are depicted with terracotta ornamentation showing such motifs as rosettes, net-work designs, floral scrolls and geometric patterns.

It is locally said to have been erected during the reign of Alamgir Badsha Aurangzeb. There may be some truth in the tradition, for the building stylistically compares well with some such late 17th century buildings as the Harshi Mosque (1676) and the Gorai Mosque (c.1680), both in the district of Kishoreganj.

Arifil Mosque, Brahmanbaria. Located about 2 km away from the Sarail Thana headquarters and built in memory of a saint Shah Arif, the mosque is now in a fairly good state of preservation under custody of the Department of Bangladesh Archaeology. Consisting of a three-domed prayer chamber and depicting such peculiarities as the corner towers rising high above the horizontal merloned parapet, the bigger central archway with bordering turrets, rectangular panellings in the outer surface of the walls and the faceted stucco works in the half-domed vaults of the eastern archways and the central mihrab the Arifil Mosque is very similar to Haji Khwaja Shahbaz Mosque (1679) and the Lalbagh Fort Mosque (1678-79) at Dhaka, and therefore be dated in the late 17th century.


Parulia Mosque, Narsingdi. By inscription the mosque is dated 1714 and one Bibi Jainab, a daughter of some Nasir and wife of Dewan Sharif, was it’s builder. Partially damaged by earthquake in 1897 and renovated later on the building, typical of a mosque with three uniform domes, is situated in the village of Parulia under Palash Thana in the district of Narsingdi.

Dariyapur Mosque, Rangpur. Erected in 1717-18 by a noble man the building, although once dilapidated, is now in good repair on the western side of a large tank in the village of Dariyapur under Pirganj Thana, Rangpur. Consisting of a rectangular prayer chamber with three domes on the roof and three cusped archways in the façade the mosque represents the late Mughal building style of Bengal.

The Fulhar Mosque and the Kamdia Mosque, both now thoroughly restored and situated in the same Govindaganj Thana of Gaibandha District, appear in plan and design to be copies of the Dariyapur Mosque, and as such an early 18th century date for them may be suggested.

Fath Khan Mosque, Hughli. This small single-aisled rectangular structure, locally called Gabarpara mosque at Chhota Pandua in Hughli, was built in 1727 by one Fath Khan. Octagonal corner towers are carried beyond the straight parapet depicting cupolas on the top. The three domes over the roof are supported on Sultanate brick pendentives. The minbar beside the central mihrab is recessed, recalling those seen in the 17th century mosques of Rajmahal.

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Ghoraghat Fort Mosque, Dinajpur. About 20 years back the mosque, now only a heap of bricks, was standing with four walls inside the Ghoraghat Fort on the right bank of the Karatoya. Covered with three-domes and strengthened with octagonal corner towers the building was then marked with a prominent centrally located arched-doorway bounded by slender turrets in the façade. The outer surface of the walls was then enriched with rectangular panellings. The plastered court in front of the prayer chamber was enclosed by an outer wall with hollow domed towers, traces still remain, on the south-east and north-east angles. An inscription, traced by Franchis Buchanan in the early 19th century, reveals that the mosque was built in 1740-41 by Zainul Abedin, the Mughal Fauzdar of sarkar Ghoraghat.


Mosque within Ghoraghat Fort (1740-41)



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Kushtia: Jhaudia Mosque, (mid-18th century) ground plan

Shahjalal Dargah Mosque, Sylhet. Locally said to have been erected in 1744 by Fauzdar Bahram Khan of Sylhet the mosque has suffered much due to subsequent restoration and enlargements. Nevertheless the original layout of the mosque is intact consisting of a three-domed prayer chamber. Interestingly this is perhaps the only known example of a three-domed Mughal mosque in Bengal where all the three interior bays take the form of a rectangle.

Jhaudia Mosque, Kushtia. Now in a fairly good repair under protection of the Department of Archaeology this three-domed Jhaudia Mosque is approximately 20km south-west of the present Kushtia district town. In plan and in some of it’s characteristics such as the hollow domed octagonal towers on the front angles of the plastered court, the plaster ornamentation consisting of geometric patterns, small trees with flowers and the spiral scrolls with rosettes the building bears the closest resemblance with Ghoraghat Fort Mosque (1740-41) in Dinajpur and the Bajra Mosque (1741-42) in Noakhali. The Jhaudia Mosque may therefore be stylistically dated sometime in the middle of the 18th century.

Nayarhat Mosque, Lalmonirhat. A Persian inscription over the central doorway records that the mosque was built during the reign of Emperor Shah Alam II (1759­

88) by Mansur Khan, son of Masud Khan in 1762-63. Consisting of a three-domed prayer chamber the building, now in good condition, is about 2km due south of the Baraibari hat (market) on the Rangpur-Kurigram high road. An important feature of the mosque that attracts attention is it’s beautiful muqarnas design in the half-domes over the central mihrab niche, recalling those of the buildings of Dhaka and Rajmahal datable from the middle of 17th century.

Mosque on Raised Platform

A few Mughal mosques in Dhaka and Murshidabad, prayer chambers of which are covered with either five domes or three domes, or in combination of dome and half- domed vaults, provide an extraordinary speciality being built on high vaulted platform such as Kartalab Khan Mosque (1700-04), Mirdha Mosque (1704-04), Azimpura Mosque (1746) at Dhaka and Katra Masjid (1724-25) at Murshidabad. The upper divisions of the platforms, provided invariably with the prayer chamber proper, were perhaps reserved for study purpose, while the vaulted rooms underneath the platforms containing book-shelves on their walls appear to have been originally devised to be used as dormitory for teachers and students used to teach and study here. In this context all these erections may be regarded as ‘Residential Madrasa-Mosque’. Mosque of this nature was unknown in Sultanate Bengal. It’s idea must have therefore come from outside, perhaps directly from North India where a number of examples are to be found in the Tughlaq and Lodi periods such as the congregational mosque of Firoz Shah (1354) in the Kotlah of Firuzabad and the Bara Gumbad Masjid (1494), both in Delhi. The influence of such North Indian mosques came no doubt from those of early Islam. The Fatimid Mosque of Salih al-Talai (1160) in Cairo, built on a high


vaulted terrace, provides an example. The following examples. arranged in chronological order, will render proofs of what has been stated above.

Chauk Masjid, Dhaka. The Chauk Masjid, consisting of a raised platform and a mosque above it, was constructed in 1676 by Subahdar Shayesta Khan. The three- domed mosque above the platform, now transformed into a multi-storeyed structure was originally a copy of Shayesta Khan’s another three-domed mosque at Mitford Hospital compound near the Buriganga. The platform, giving a measurement of 29m × 25m × 3m, still contains underneath rectangular and square vaulted rooms with book-shelves on their walls. So far known this is the earliest dated mosque in the history of Muslim architecture in Bengal being built on a high vaulted platform and consequently a few other mosques of Dhaka and Murshidabad were erected on this model.

The promenade around the three-domed prayer chamber, since there was no separate

structure for study purpose, might have been used for open-air classes, and the vaulted rooms with book-shelves on their walls underneath the platform may therefore be said, with a good reason, to have been devised to provide residential accommodation for those who used to teach and study here. In this context the Chauk Masjid at Dhaka may be regarded as the first known example of a ‘Residential Madrasa-Mosque’. It is an ingenious way of accommodating two structures- a madrasa and a mosque in a single building which not only saved space but also a considerable amount of money. It is very likely that these Bengal examples might have been influenced by such Tughlagian instances as the Khirki Masjid (1374) or the Kalan Masjid (1387) of Delhi, which were also erected on vaulted platforms.

Musa Khan Masjid, Dhaka. Enclosed by an outer wall, now almost levelled to the ground, Musa Khan Masjid, consisting of a vaulted platform and the three-domed prayer chamber above is, for all intents and purposes, a copy of the Chauk Masjid at Dhaka. Although uninscribed, the mosque is typologically said to have been built by Munawwar Khan in and around 1679 in memory of his father Musa Khan, son of the famous Bara Bhuiyan chief Isa Khan.

Kartalab Khan Mosque, Dhaka. Erected in 1700-04 by Diwan Murshid Quli Khan alias Kartalab Khan during his stay at Dhaka this building complex, now located on the Begumbazar Road beside the modern Jail of the city, consists of a high vaulted platform, a mosque with a dochala annexe on the north upon the western half of the platform and a vav or baoli (stepped well) to the east of the platform. The vaulted rooms underneath the platform are like those of the previous examples of it’s kind. But it’s prayer chamber is covered with five bulbous shaped domes instead of three of the earlier examples. The dochala annexe of the prayer chamber, which is suggested to have been devised for Imam’s residential accommodation, is decidedly of Bengali in it’s design. And the baoli, the only known example of it’s kind in Bengal, is considered to be of North Indian or Deccan origin, the latter possibility being more reasonable since it’s builder had been in the Deccan before coming to Dhaka.


Mirdha Mosque, Dhaka. Dated 1704-05 this protected building complex of Khan Muhammad Mirdha is built within a walled enclosure and consists of a rectangular vaulted substructure of 38m × 30.48m × 5.18m with rooms containing book-shelves on the walls all round excepting the east. Above the substructure there is a three- domed mosque in the usual Mughal style of Bengal and to it’s north-east there is another structure containing three flat vaulted apartments with a verandah in front, identified as a madrasa. And the space around the mosque proper, forming a promenade, might have been used also for open-air class. It is in this context that the vaulted rooms below the substructure should in all considerations be used as residential accommodations for teachers and students of the madrasa. In the centre of the east side, in front of the substructure, there is a long narrow flight of steps at the upper end of which is an arched gateway to enter the space in front of the three-domed mosque and the madrasa. This long flight of steps, identical to those of the Kalan (1387) and the Khirki Masjids (1374) at Delhi, is flanked to right and left by a spectacular pyramidal octagonal tower.

Another interesting ‘Residential Madrasa-Mosque Complex’, built at the order of Qazi Ibadullah and located a little away on north-west of the Lalbagh Fort, presents, with it’s lofty appearance, an impressive view uncomparable to any of it’s kinds and contemporaries in Dhaka.

Katra Masjid, Murshidabad. The ruinous Katra Masjid, the greatest architectural achievement of Nawab Murshid Quli Khan, was built in 1724-25 as the Jami‘ of Bengal’s new capital city of Murshidabad. A 84m square high platform, depicting above it the mosque proper, was originally emphasised with four huge hollow octagonal domed towers on the corners in imitation to those of the Badshahi Mosque (1674) at Lahore but today only the two rear ones remain containing stairways to lead up to the top. The courtyard infront of the mosque, surrounded by double-storeyed domed cells, is approached from the east through a multi-arched entrance portal containing beneath the grave of Murshid Quli Khan. The mosque proper, measuring 39.62m by 7.31m is built on typical Mughal style showing five slightly bulbous domes over the roof exactly in imitation to those over the same builder’s Begumbazar Mosque at Dhaka, immense rectangular panellings in the outer face of the walls, the iwan-type central archway with bordering turrets, the straight parapet with merlons and the corner towers rising high above the roof. But what is important is that the mosque provides an early example of European influence in Bengal architecture as represented by the cusped rounded arches in the entrance ways.

The domed-cells around the courtyard, although suggested by some to have housed a market, must have been certainly devised to be used as a madrasa like a number of earlier examples of it’s kind in Dhaka. This is corroborated by a report of artist Hodges who described it in 1760 as a magnificent madrasa or a theological college around the mosque proper.


Azimunnesa Begum Mosque, Murshidabad. An entrance portal leading to the courtyard of the mosque above the vaulted platform still contains an inscription, which reveals that it was built in 1734 by Azimunnesa Begum, the only daughter of Nawab Murshid Quli Khan and wife of Nawab Shujauddin. The builder, like her father, is buried under the entrance portal to her mosque. Today only the large raised plinth and the south exterior bay of the east façade of the mosque remain. The raised platform, containing arched cells at it’s base suggest that this mosque also served as a madrasa like the nearby Katra Masjid.

Nusari Banu Mosque, Murshidabad. Consisting of a vaulted platform and a mosque above it the building was erected in 1735 in honour of Murshid Quli Khan’s deceased wife Nusari Banu. Following the precedent of her daughter’s and husband’s tombs Nusari Banu’s grave was made below the ascending flight of steps leading to the top of the platform. It is important to note that the mosque proper, consisting of a prayer chamber roofed over with three bulbous domes with tightly constricted necks and a chauchala vault at either ends, was rebuilt later in 1881 by Sadiq Ali who designed the great Palace Imambara at Murshidabad. The mosque, however, in all respects and purpose appears to be a copy of the nearby Katra Masjid.

Phuti Masjid, Murshidabad. The Phuti Masjid meaning the ‘Broken Mosque’ was erected in 1739 by Nawab Sarfaraz Khan a little away on the west of the Katra Masjid. Built on a high platform the mosque proper, measuring 41m by 11.58m, is roofed over with five domes. The Phuti Masjid, now in a ruined condition, was constructed in the same scale and format of the nearby Katra Masjid.

Azimpura Mosque, Dhaka. So far known this is the last example of a mosque style set by the Chauk Masjid (1676) at Dhaka. Located beside the Azimpur Public Cemetery and dated 1746 by inscription it is a two storeyed structure, the lower one being the vaulted platform now occupied by some madrasa students. The upper storey consists of the main mosque building and a spacious structure, identified with a madrasa of similar kind beside the three-domed prayer chamber of Mirdha Mosque. Some special mention should be made of the roofing pattern of the prayer chamber. Of the three interior divisions the central square bay is roofed over traditionally with a big bulbous dome, but each of the side rectangles is entirely covered with a large half-domed vault, unheard before and after in Bengal. It is in this capacity the prayer chamber of the Azimpura Mosque at Dhaka compares well with the sanctuary wing of the Ottoman Standard Plan Mosque, where two or four half-domes are always on the sides of the large central dome. It is very likely that the Ottoman influence came through the Armenians who settled at Dhaka during the Mughal period.

Kiosk Type

The single-domed or kiosk type- a square domical structure, was very popular in all ages throughout the Muslim World, erected both at the royal and private initiatives. This kind of building in Islam may be said to have been a direct descendant of the


Iranian chahartaq- a Sassanian fire temple consisting of a square hall surmounted by a dome, the earliest known example of which is perhaps the Hazara Mosque of the Abbasids in Bukhara erected towards the end of the 8th century or in the beginning of the 9th century CE. The type was subsequently practised in Persia under the Karakhanids, the Seljuks and so on, while it was ‘favoured throughout the six centuries of Ottoman rule and is widely used in Turkey even today’. In India chahartaq designed structure does not seem to have started as a mosque first, but a tomb such as the tomb of Iltutmish (c.1236) at Delhi. Pure mosques of this kind are rare in Upper India during the Sultanate period, but in the Mughal period or in the contemporary architecture of Southern India they abound. Quite a large number of such kind of mosques were built in the Sultanate Bengal datable from the middle of the 15th century. The Mughal kiosk mosque, in plan, may therefore be said to have been a copy of the Sultanate examples but with such differences as will be substantiated by the following listed erections.

Bibir Masjid at Sherpur, Bogra. Located a little away on the south-west of the Kherua Mosque this small building, measuring internally 4.57m a side, is now in a ruined condition. Covered all over with plaster the mosque had octagonal towers on the exterior angles, now disappeared. The domed roof, now fallen off, was carried on corbelled brick pendentives and cornices were pronouncedly curved. The three axial archways give access to the interior, while the qibla wall is recessed with three mihrabs, now remodelled.

Erected in 1628, when Mughal rule was firmly established in Bengal, the mosque demonstrates overwhelming Sultanate art traditions of the land. This was possibly due to the employment of the local craftsmen in the construction of the building.

Sadi Mosque at Egarosindhur, Kishoreganj. This brick-built single-domed square mosque, erected in 1652 by one Sadi during the reign of Emperor Shahjahan, is in the locality of Egarosindhur which was originally a stronghold of the Bara Bhuiyan chief Isa Khan. Roofed over with a high dome on a circular drum and covered all over with plaster coating the building has the usual corner towers rising above the horizontal parapet and terminating in cupolas with finials. Dominant Sultanate features of the building are represented by curved cornices below the horizontal parapet, the terracotta ornamentation in the mihrabs and the archways, and the corbelled brick pendentives below the circular drum of the dome.

Sultanpur Mosque, Ghazipur. About a kilometre south-west of the Sadi Mosque

there is another single-domed mosque on the right bank of the Old Brahmaputra in the village of Sultanpur under the district of Ghazipur. Although thoroughly repaired the mosque still retains some of it’s original features. The corner towers rising above the horizontal parapet are topped over with cupolas and kalasa finials. The three axial archways provide access to the interior of the mosque and there is a single semi- octagonal mihrab aperture in the centre of the qibla wall. Covered all over with plaster the mosque is roofed by a single-dome on corbelled pendentives. The spaces in and


around the mihrab and archways are still depicted with terracotta ornamentation. Although uninscribed, the mosque may be dated sometime in the middle of the 17th century on ground of it’s similarity with the nearby Sadi Mosque (1652).

Hayat Bepari Mosque, Dhaka. Hayat Bepari, a well-known merchant of the period of Shayesta Khan, is known to have constructed in 1664 a mosque and a bridge, now disappeared, at Narayandia. The mosque, a square single-domed structure, has suffered much due to subsequent repair and extension works. The octagonal towers on the corners rise above the parapet and terminate in cupolas with lotus finials. The parapet is horizontal and faced with blind merlons. The single dome, covering the square prayer chamber, is carried on Sultanate half-domed squinches on the corners and crowned with lotus and kalasa finials.

Bhadugarh Mosque, Brahmanbaria. The Bhadugarh Mosque, about 3km due south of the Brahmanbaria District headquarter, was built by one Noor Muhammad in 1673. Keeping the original lay-out of the mosque intact extensions have been made on all sides except the west. Emphasised with usual towers on the exterior angles the single square prayer chamber is surmounted by a dome on circular drum, carried on squinches and corbelled brick pendentives. The building is entirely covered with plaster and it’s horizontal parapet is faced with blind merlons. Of the three archways in the east, the central one is traditionally larger and is bordered with slender turrets. Harshi Mosque, Kishoreganj. The building, also known as Masjidpara Mosque, is

now in good repair in the village of Harshi under Pakundia Thana of the district of Kishoreganj. This plastered brick-built mosque, dated 1675-76 by inscription, illustrates a blending of the Sultanate and Mughal styles of the land. The former is best represented by the terracotta ornamentation in the archways and mihrabs and the corbelled brick pendentives below the dome. On the other hand the rectangular panellings in the outer face of the walls, horizontal parapet faced with merlons, corner towers rising high above the parapet and the bulbous dome on octagonal drums are distinguishing features of Mughal architecture.

Allakuri Mosque, Dhaka. This is a typical square single–domed Mughal mosque in Bengal, dated about 1680. What of the building calls for special mention is that it is provided with four axially projected frontons with bordering ornamental turrets, hitherto unheard in Bengal. This is a unique feature of the Mughal buildings in Bengal, and it’s idea must have been borrowed from the four axial iwan-type gateways of the standard Mughal mosques of Delhi, Agra, Fathepur Sikri and Lahore.

Gorai Mosque, Kishoreganj. The building, with a recently made flat-roofed

verandah in the east, has still preserved of much it it’s original features. In it’s square plan and elevational details, with the exception of the traces of terracotta ornamentation in the mihrabs and archways, the Gorai Mosque appears to be a copy of the Allakuri Mosque (c. 1680) at Dhaka. And such a date in and around 1680 may be suggested for the building.



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Egarosindhur: Shah Mohammad Mosque (1680), ground plan

Shah Muhammad Mosque at Egarosindhur, Kishoreganj. This plastered brick- built mosque, enclosed by an outer wall with a dochala roofed gateway building in the centre of the east, consists of a single square prayer chamber and is covered with a dome on an octagonal drum carried on half-domed squinches on the corners. In it’s square plan and the four axially projected frontons Shah Muhammad Mosque compares well with Allakuri Mosque (c. 1680) at Dhaka and therefore be dated about 1680.

Chaksri Mosque, Bagerhat. With an outside measurement of 7.62m a side the mosque, erected on a slightly raised platform, is located at Chaksri Bazar under Rampal Thana of Bagerhat. Covered all over with plaster and roofed over by a dome on half-domed squinches the building is distinguished by it’s four axially projected frontons, which have made the Chaksri Mosque nearer in style to such late 17th century buildings as the Allakuri Mosque (c.1980) at Dhaka and Shah Muhammad Mosque (c.1680) at Egarosindhur, Kishoreganj.

The Bagmara Mosque and the Uttar Baurgati Mosque, both of Barisal, appear in plan and design to be similar to the Chaksri Mosque, and therefore a late 17th century date may be ascribed to both them.

Mograpara Mosque, Narayanganj. Dated 1700-01 by inscription, the mosque consists of a single prayer chamber covered with a single dome. Unlike the previous examples an important variation is noticed here in the internal arrangement of the Mograpara Mosque. The interior forms a rectangular hall of 7.77m north-south and 5.33m east-west. The rectangle has first been made square above by introducing two half-domed vaults on the north and south walls, and then the actual dome has been placed on a further series of pendentives. This sort of roofing system has been noticed in the three-domed type mosques of Bengal such as Shayesta Khan Mosque and Lalbagh Fort Mosque at Dhaka. But this is rare in kiosk type mosques.

In plan and design a few examples from Satkhira like the Atarou Mosque, the Tala Mosque and the Tetulia Mosque bear similarity with the Mograpara Mosque and therefore be dated sometime in the early 18th century.

Goaldi Abdul Hamid Mosque, Narayanganj. Erected in 1704 this brick-built small plastered mosque is roofed over with a single dome on an octagonal drum. There are three arched doorways in the east, all open out under half-domes, and in their axis the qibla wall is depicted with three semi-octagonal mihrab apertures. The outer surface of the walls still retains rectangular panellings, and the horizontal parapet together with the base of the octagonal drum are enriched with blind merlons in the traditional Mughal way.

Farrukh Siyar Mosque, Bogra. This is a typical single-domed Mughal building

depicting four axially projected frontons with bordering minarets, corner towers shooting high above the parapet, bulbous outline of the dome with lotus finials, rectangular panellings in the walls and blind merlons in the horizontal parapet.


Situated beside the tomb of Shah Sultan Balkhi at Mohasthan in Bogra the mosque has still a Persian inscription recording that it was built by one Khodadil in 1718 during the time of Emperor Furrukh Siyar.

Miscellaneous Types

Monuments exampled belonging to this group are not many thirteen in total giving a number of types are known. Each of the few types such as six-domed, five-domed, central dome with flanking chauchala vault, and independent chauchala hut types provides two or three illustrations of it’s kind. The other types, providing a lone example of it’s kind, are of nine-domed, multi-aisled flat roofed and a small prayer chamber within a residential building. In plan the nine-domed, six-domed or the chauchala hut type mosques appear to have been influenced by the Sultanate examples of the land but the remaining ones are new in Bengal and their sources are to be sought elsewhere. A short review of these mosques, keeping in mind their typological similarity, has here been attempted one after another and as such chronology of these erections could not be maintained.

Sarail Mosque, Brahmanbaria. Located in the heart of the Sarail Thana headquarters in Brahmanbaria District and dated 1663 by inscription, the mosque consists of a rectangular prayer chamber with octagonal corner towers rising high above the roof in the Mughal fashion. Of the three interior bays of the mosque the central square one is roofed over with a big dome on a circular drum. The side rectangular bays each is covered by a vault. This vault is internally of chauchala type but over it on the exterior side are two small buble-shaped domes. From outside the mosque is therefore found to have been roofed over with five domes- a large central dome and four smaller ones on the corners. The cornice of the building is prominently curved and the entrance ways together with mihrabs are marked with terracotta decoration, although the entire building is covered with Mughal plaster coating with rectangular panellings.

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Consisting of a large central dome with four smaller ones on the corners the Sarail Mosque produces a unique variety of Mughal mosques in Bengal. The idea of such a mosque style in Bengal appears to have been imported from outside the country such as to be seen in the Jamat Khana Mosque (c. 1310-16) at Delhi and then in Sher Shah’s Mosque (c.1540) at Patna in Bihar.

In plan and elevational details the Qutb Shahi Mosque at Austogram in Kishoreganj

appears to be a copy of the Sarail Mosque and therefore be dated around 1663. Walipur Alamgiri Masjid, Comilla. Erected in 1692 the Walipur Alamgiri Masjid marks a clear development over the earlier examples of the five-domed type mosques in Bengal. Unlike the three bay division of the interior of the Sarail Mosque and the

Austogram Mosque, the present example furnishes five square bays by two massive pillars- a large one in the middle covered with a big dome and two smaller ones on its either side roofed over with small domes. This suggests that the architect of the


Brahmanbaria: Sarail Mosque (1663), ground plan


Walipur Alamgiri Masjid had possibly in his mind the plan of the Jamat Khana Masjid (c. 1310-16) at Delhi, or even that of Humayun’s Mosque (c. 1530) at Agra in which the large central bay is flanked by four smaller ones instead of the usual two.

Mullah Miskin Shah Mosque, Chittagong. Datable to the end of the 17th century the mosque, built on a small hillock near Mohsin College in the city of Chittagong, consists of a two-aisled and three-bay deep sanctuary with a cluster of six domes above. The six-domed plan of the mosque must have been influenced by those of the Sultanate examples of the land, but in other details it is typically a Mughal structure as represented by it’s plaster coating, corner towers rising high above the horizontal parapet, domes on octagonal drums and crowned with lotus finials, and the prominence of the central archway with bordering ornamental turrets.

The six-domed Wali Khan Mosque, located at Choumuhani beside the Chittagong Medical College, is in plan and design a copy of the nearby six-domed Mullah Miskin Shah Mosque. The mosque was erected during 1714-19 when Wali Khan is known to have been a Mughal governor of Chittagong.

Chhoti Mosque, Rajmahal. Dated to 1701-02, this small three-bayed rectangular structure is surmounted by a large central dome with kalasa finial on the top and octagonal drum below. The flanking smaller rectangular bays appear to have been covered with flat vaults. Of the three eastern door-ways the central one gives an iwan­ like appearance with usual bordering turrets.

Shuja Uddin Mosque, Murshidabad. Built in 1743 beside the tomb of Nawab Shuja Uddin the mosque consists of a rectangular structure with usual corner towers rising above the horizontal parapet. Internally it is a three-bay mosque like many earlier examples of Rajmahal and Dhaka, but unlike the Rajmahal or Dhaka examples where all the bays are covered with domes, the roof of the Shuja Uddin Mosque consists of a large central dome flanked by a chauchala vault on it’s either side- a device hitherto unknown in a three-bay type mosque. This is also perhaps the first mosque where the mihrab projection and the eastern archways are depicted with chauchala and dochala decorative motifs in plaster- a feature later on appeared repeatedly in the architecture of Murshidabad.

The Zadunagar Mosque at Bholahat in Nawabganj is in plan and design a copy of the aforesaid Shuja Uddin Mosque and as such a mid-18th century date may be suggested for the building.

Laldighi Mosque, Rangpur. Built entirely of brick with smooth plaster coating the

mosque has been stylistically dated to the middle of the 18th century. It is a square nine-domed structure consisting of nine square bays by two rows of pillars. The square nine-domed plan of the Laldighi Mosque of Badarganj Thana in Rangpur must have been dictated by a number such square nine-domed Sultanate examples of Bengal as the Qasba Mosque (mid-15th century) in Barisal and the Masjidkur Mosque (mid-15th century) at Amadi in Khulna. Square nine-bayed building or mosque, covered either with domes or with other kinds of vaults, was a known architectural type practised in


the Muslim countries of the Middle-East, North-Africa and Europe. And the idea of such type of Bengal mosques might have been borrowed from these sources, particularly perhaps from those of Arabia, Afghanistan or Turkey.


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