A few number of mosques built in the outlying areas of Mughal capital Dhaka during the early Mughal period reveal a happy blending of the Sultanate features with the new Imperial Mughal features, which characterize a transitional phase in the development of the mosque architecture in Bangladesh. This Atiya mosque is an illustrious example of this transitional phase. It is located, about six kilometers south of Atiya Union under Sadar Upazilla in the District Tangail. There are three inscriptional tablets in this mosque. Two are placed over the central doorway of the eastern façade and the third one is placed on the qibla wall. According to the original date-plaque inscription, which is now preserved in the Bangladesh National Museum, the mosque was erected in 1019/1610-11 by Sayid Khan Panni, son of Bayazid Khan Panni in honour of the great saint Pir Ali Shahansha Baba Kashmiri, who propagated Islam in this part of Bangladesh (Banglapedia 2003: 321). His grave lies nearby.
The mosque belongs to the group of square shaped plan with a fore-room that developed during the sultanate period. The mosque measures externally 16.51m by 10.52m and internally the prayer hall is 6.71m square with a 3.55m wide fore-room. There are three arched openings in the east facade and one on each side of the fore-room. The main hall is accessed by three openings from the fore-room and has one opening on each of the north and south side. Corresponding to the eastern openings there are three mihrab niches in the kibla wall. The outside of the kibla wall shows a projection of the main mihrab niche. Introducing typical mughal octagonal turret, four instead of six in each corner, is the most intriguing feature of this mosque. The large central dome on the square prayer hall is supported on sequences at each corner and the three domes over the fore room are carried on pendentives. The eastern and northern facades of the mosque are covered with exquisite terracotta ornamentation and the other two surfaces are simply plastered.
The entire eastern façade is adorned with several rectangular recessed paneled niches and divided by a string course in the middle. The area of each recessed niche is faced with extensive terracotta ornamentation of geometrical and floral nature. Varied nature of façade treatment confirms that this mosque had undergone several repair works. Eastern façade has gentle curved cornice embedded with merlon shaped battlements, where as the southern and western façade has straight parapet. On the northern façade two separate curvilinear cornices demarcate both the main prayer hall and the fore-room, giving rather a strange wavy cornice.
The mosque brings together harmoniously both the Sultanate and Mughal features of Bengal. Square shaped room with a verandah, flat façade, curved cornice, exquisitely terracotta ornamentation, horizontal string-course are typical sultanate features, where as, plastered turret embellished with niched paneling, blind kiosk on the corner turret, plastered surface paneling, dome with octagonal shoulder embellished with merlon, kalasa typed finial on a lotus base recall mughal architecture in Bangladesh.
Prof Abu Sayeed M Ahmed is the Dean at the department of Architecture at the University of Asia Pacific.