Saturday, September 01, 2007

Kartalab Khan Mosque, Begumbazar and the Builder

Begumbazar road - towards Dhaka central jail gate

North view of Kartalab Khan mosque - from Begumbazar road

East view of mosque

Entry of the mosque with flight of stairs

Decoration on east side

Boy standing in the border line between old and new

Central entrance of old part

Delicate arch work over entrances

Underside of central dome - partial view

Central of the 5 mihrabs

View of dome from south east roof top

Kiosks with copulas, and finally crowned with lotus and kalasa finial

View from west

Kartalab Khan Mosque/ Begumbazar Mosque, Dhaka:
The design of the mosque is quite fascinating. The mosque, with a do-chala annex on the northern side built on high vaulted terrace, is entered from the east through five arched doorways. There was a stepped well to the north east of the platform to provide water for ablutions. In course of time the well became filled up with filth and later shops were built on it. The interior of the original mosque, forming a large elongated hall (25.60m by 5.18m), is divided into five bays by four transverse arches of plain four-centred design. The central bay is square and bigger than a couple of smaller rectangular ones on either side. Underneath the platform are a series of rectangular rooms that are let out to shopkeepers. The approach to the mosque is on the east of the platform by a flight of steps. The western wall is internally recessed with five semi-octagonal mihrabs. A kitchen market was built, endowed to meet the expenses of the mosque. In 1777, the control of the market was taken over by Lovely Begum daughter of the then Naib-e-nazim Sharfaraz Khan. The name of the locality ‘Begumbazar’ originate from her name. The mosque underwent several phases of reconstruction in the past and now having further renovation work. The madrassa has been shifted from the mosque.

Kartalab Khan alias Murshid Quli Khan - Subehdar of Bengal in 1717:

Very little is known about his family and parenthood. Haji Shafi of Ispahan brought him up in Iran and gave him useful education. After Haji Shafi's death, he entered the Mughal service in India as diwan and faujdar of Golkonda. When Mughal emperor Aurangzeb was looking for an honest and efficient diwan for Bengal, his choice fell on this young man. He was transferred to Bengal in 1701 as diwan and was honoured with the title of ‘Kartalab Khan’.

He was honest and faithful to the emperor, proved to be very efficient in matters of revenue and financial administration. But while safeguarding imperial interests, he came into conflict with Azim-us-Shan, the nazim and grandson of the emperor. He was about to lose his life, but faced the problem with fortitude and courage. The emperor intervened with warning to his grandson and allowed Kartalab Khan to shift his office to Makhsudabad on the Ganges in 1702. In 1703, Kartalab Khan visited the emperor in the Deccan where he got the title of ‘Murshid Quli Khan’ and an elevation in rank. The emperor also allowed him to rename Makhsudabad as Murshidabad after his new title.

After Aurangzeb's death in 1707, the Mughal Empire was in turmoil and faced dismemberment. Bengal was, at that time, being governed by absentee governors through their deputies. Murshid Quli Khan was recalled from Deccan in 1710 and became the deputy subehdar, on behalf of the absentee son of Farrukh Siyar, and then, after his death, of the absentee subehdar. But he continued to stay at Murshidabad. Being the highest officer present in the station, the control of affairs in the province fell in his hands. He was raised to the post of nazim of Bengal in 1716. He was loaded with titles. He secured the imperial title of "Motamul-ul-Mulk, Alauddowla Jaffer Khan, Noseri Nasir Jang (Guardian of the country, promoter of the State, Helper in War, the Defender). He transferred the capital of the province from Dhaka to Murshidabad in 1717 and reigned over Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.

He was true to his salt and did not yield to pressure, he didn't allow the East India Company to purchase more villages around Calcutta even after the company's receipt of the imperial farman. Murshid Quli Khan was also a good builder. Kartalab Khan's Mosque/ Begam Bazar Mosque at Dhaka and the Murshidabad Mosque bear his name. He also opened a mint and introduced the "Zurbe Murshidabad” coin. In private life, he was extremely religious and never deviated from the path of shariat. After a successful tenure of office, he died in Murshidabad on 30 June 1727.


Shireen said...

thanks for the article, interesting history.

Unknown said...

A fair example to uphold dhaka's muslim tradition among the peace loving Muslim of Bangladesh.

Dhaka is a city of mosques and islamic institutions which are very important to sustain it's thousand years tradition.

Anonymous said...

Hello, after reading this remarkable post i am as well
glad to share my experience here with mates.

Feel free to visit my website :: quantrim online