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Dhaka Tribune

Gour antiquities on verge of extinction

Update : 22 Apr 2015, 07:10 PM

Most of the several-hundred-year-old antiquities of Gour civilisation in Chapainawabganj are decaying into nonexistence due to the indifference of the Archaeology Department and lack of initiatives to restore them.

Although the archaeology department restored a few of these historic structures, many lie untended – some of the relics are not even on their list. The department however claims they are restoring these sites one at a time on the basis of priority. Under this circumstance, the residents of the district have demanded immediate restoration of these historical relics.

Once an ancient town, Chapainawabganj is rich in heritage sites and relics spread all over the district. The most notable among them is the Choto Shona Mosque (Golden mosque) – a beautiful vestige of Muslim archaeology – built at the time of Sultan Alauddin Hossain Shah by Wali Muhammad between 1493 to 1519 AD.

A little way off the Shona Mosque stands Tohakhana. Built by Shah Suja in 1655, the Tohakhana is said to have been built to control the temperature during winter. Right next to it stands a mosque built in the Mughal era and the shrine of Hazrat Shah Neyamatullah (RA). Now, these historical places are decaying away for the lack of security and proper restoration.

Caretaker of Shonamasjid Rest House Abdul Matin said: “All the historical sites of the district need immediate restoration. Also, we need Ansar members to secure all these sites.”

He added that to save the Shona Mosque, a bypass road is needed to reduce traffic on the highway that runs next to the mosque. Everyday, 400-500 heavily laden trucks use the highway to travel to and from the Shonamasjid Port. This continuous movement of heavy traffic affects the already ruinous structure of the Shona Mosque.

In Shibganj of the district lies another architectural legacy from the middle ages of Muslim rule in the region – the Darasbari Mosque. West of the mosque stands the expansive Darasbari Madrassa, built in the 15th century under the rule of Sultan Alauddin Hossain Shah. These historic sites are also counting days before being lost to nonexistence.

Nurul Huda Sattari Gouriya, a descendent of the Gour family from the Shona Mosque area, says about the Darasbari mosque: “The roof of the mosque, which is biggest of those built during the Muslim rule, has fallen in a long time back. The madrassa was in fact a university where 300 teachers were employed to educate students coming from all over Bengal for higher studies.”

The oldest find in the district is Noada Buruj in Rahanpur of Gomstapur upazila. A planned archaeological excavation is needed to know more of the history of the remnants, but that is yet to happen. Meanwhile, the nearby lands are being grabbed up and many illegal structures have been erected.

Professor Dr Mazharul Islam Taru, Head of the Bangla Department of Chapainawabganj Government College and a researcher of regional history, said: “These historic structures can never be brought back once they are lost. They need to be restored on an emergency basis.” He also expressed hope the government would promote Chapainawabganj for heritage tourism.

In regards to restoration and management of the historic sites, Regional Director (Bagura) Nahida Sultana Mala of Archaeology Department said: “Many of the antiquities have been more or less restored from time to time. We carry out work on all sites on a priority basis. We are planning to erect boundary walls for some of the sites and carry out archaeological digging in the next fiscal year.” 

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