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.


asvab said...

Hi, I really like your website because I am a bangladeshi living in the USA so its great to see pics of Bangladesh. You should keep doing this! BTW I cannot see your latest pictures the ones of baridhara lake.

Anonymous said...

there was a little tech snag..its rectified. Hope you can see pics of Baridhara and Bashundhara..
thanks a lot.

Shireen said...

Beautiful Mosque the saatgumbad.

Giang Tran said...

Thanks for your post. It's really interesting.
I have a question. Do you know is there any relationship between the SaatMajid Road in Dhanmondi and this mosque?

Ershad Ahmed said...

@ Giang Tran:
According to historians, during Mughal period the mosque was built in Jafarabad area on the northern edge of the course of Buriganga river which was then an important trade centre. On its north east corner were the extant of two brick-built graves believed to be the daughters of Mughal Subahdar Shaista Khan. With the decay of Mughal power and passage of time the river moved away leaving the mosque isolated and dilapidated on a swamp. In the nineteenth century, Sir Nawab Abdul Ghani, Nawab of Dhaka took measures to restore the mosque to its former glory. The earth road leading from the north edge of Pilkhana (royal stable for elephants) and Badshahi Eidgah (at Dhanmandi west) to Saat gumbad mosque was improved which later became known as ‘Saat (gambad) Masjid’ road.
Thanks for your comments.