(Author) Prof. Abu Sayeed M. Ahmed, Ph.D and Shaila Joarder
Perhaps the most graceful mosque complex in Bangladesh is the Bajra Shahi mosque, popularly known by the local people as the Tajmahal of Bengal. It is named after the village of Bajra under the Begumganj upazilla of Noakhali district, located on the west bank of a big derelict tank now used as a paddy field. […]
Perhaps the most graceful mosque complex in Bangladesh is the Bajra Shahi mosque, popularly known by the local people as the Tajmahal of Bengal. It is named after the village of Bajra under the Begumganj upazilla of Noakhali district, located on the west bank of a big derelict tank now used as a paddy field. The inscription tablet dating the building to 1741 AD is fixed over its eastern central entrance.
The mosque proper stands on the western side of a raised platform, which is enclosed by a low boundary wall with a majestic gate in the east. This impressive gateway structure is approached by a splendid staircase from the ground level. During the facade uplift in 1920 two slender minars were built in both corners of the frontal boundary wall.
The prayer hall has the typical Mughal oblong shaped plan measuring 15.77 m by 7.54 m externally with a 1.28 m thick surrounding brick wall. The prayer hall is entered from the eastern side by three alcove archways and the other two side walls have one pointed-arch openings each. All the opening archways are framed by recessed panels in the wall and bordered by octagonal turrets with a pinnacle on the top. The four corners are buttressed by four corner turrets extended high above the roof level and ended in a blind kiosk covered by small cupola having a finial. The whole length of the rectangular hall is divided into three unequal bays by means of two 1.06 m wide arches springing from the east and west walls. The side bays are rectangular in shape and smaller in width, but the central one is bigger and square. All the three domes have an octagonal shoulder embellished with merlons and are crowned with elongated amla-kalasa typed finials on lotus base.
During the British rule wealthy Muslim zamindars and merchants renovated a large numbers of Mughal mosques. Instead of developing a style, surface treatment was the main focus of the builders. Chini-tikri or the broken ceramics, from China, were used for surface cladding despite a rich tradition of early Islamic terracotta or Mughal plaster works. Bajra mosque is the best known examples of chini-tikri decoration from the period. Chini-tikri is a unique craft and was very popular technique of surface decoration in the region in the 19th and 20th century.
Author: Prof. Abu Sayeed M. Ahmed, Ph.D; Shaila Joarder,Assistant Professor, (Past-The University of Asia Pacific; Now- North South University)
Photography: Syed Zakir Hossain
Drawing: Mosque Architecture in Bangladesh, UNESCO, 2007, Dhaka