Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, well known as city of fine muslin, mosques and rickshaws has a fairly long history of evolution. Before it rose into prominence as Mughal capital of Bengal in 17th century and urban & commercial centre, it was under the Sultanates from 14 century. It came under British control in 1757. Dhaka with passage of time testify different faces of history. Photographs and digital archives are the most effective ways that can keep visual records of its colourful history.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Saat Gumbad Masjid, Dhaka
Saat Masjid views Typical Mughal style courtyard
Plan of Main Mosque (ref: Banglapedia) Madrassah built too close to Masjid (Mosque) A picture from British Museum A sketch of 1874
Saat Masjid: The Seven Domed Mosque (Satgumbad), at the north west outskirt of Dhaka at Jafarabad, was believed to be built around 1680 by Mughal Subehdar Shaista Khan. Bengal was then experiencing an era of grandeur and Dhaka enjoyed the status of a provincial Mughal capital. Saat Masjid in the picture above has 3 central large domes and 4 small domes at 4 corners making the total number of domes to 7.
The Mosque occupies the western end of a slightly raised masonry plinth 26.82m by 25.60m, which is enclosed by a low wall with a gateway in the middle of the eastern side. The mosque proper forms a large rectangle 14.33m by 4.88m on the inside and is emphasised with massive hollow domed towers of octagonal design on the exterior angles. The prayer chamber is entered through arched doorways - three in the east and one each on the north and south sides. Based on the similarity of its design with the Khwaja Ambar's Mosque of Karwan Bazar and the Lalbagh Fort Mosque (1678-79 AD) it is assume to be of 1680 AD, although there is no mention of Shaista Khan (ref: Banglapedia). Prof Muntasir Mamun’s in his book book ‘Dhaka Smriti Bishritir Swahar’ gives the measurement of area as 38’ x 27’ where as, in Dr.Syed Mahmudul Hasan "Dhaka - The City of Mosques", Islamic Foundation Bangladesh, 2002, its area is mentioned as 1500 sft and also acknowledged as of 1680 AD and by Shaista Khan.
This elegant edifice once stood proudly at the bank of Buriganga river against a lush green backdrop of open space. With the advent of British East India Company rule things changed a lot. The area from north of Azimpur were neglected to grow jungles all around the magnificent Mughal structures. Mughal edifices were unpreserved or deliberately destroyed, the old sketches of Dhaka by Charles D’oyle in early 19 th century and others provide ample testimony. In late 20th century, Nawab Ahsanullah made great effort to clean up Jafarabad to restore the mosque. By that time the river had gone far away from the mosque which now stand in a very congested place.