The Sat Gambuj mosque is one of the well-preserved mosques in the ancient Mughal capital Dhaka, located now in the Mohammadpur area of the city
The mosque building is positioned on the western end of a raised shan or courtyard measuring 26.82m long and 25.60m wide, which is encompassed by a low boundary wall with a gateway in the middle of the eastern side. This arched gateway is located at the central axis of the courtyard and the mosque building. A flight of steps leads to the rooftop of the gateway from the north and south side. The mosque building is oblong in plan, measuring 8.22m wide by 17.67m long externally. The mosque is entered from the east by three cusped arched openings, which leads directly to a niche in the kibla or western wall. As a result, the kibla wall has three arched mihrab niches, the central one being larger than the flanking ones. All the entrance archways are framed by recessed panels in the wall.
The whole length of the rectangular hall is divided into three unequal bays by means of two 1.05m wide arches springing from the east and west walls. The side bays are rectangular in shape and smaller in width, but the central one is bigger and square. With the help of brick pendentives the square central bay is transformed into an octagonal area and again by sequences at each octagonal corner formed a circular supporting area, upon which the slightly bulbous dome supports. In order to make the circular supporting area for the dome, the two rectangular side bays have first been made square by introducing half domed vault on the east and west wall. These square areas are transformed again by pendentives on the corners into an octagon and then in a circle, upon which the smaller domes rest. The domes have a shoulder ornamented by blind merlons. The whole outer wall surface is profusely panelled with arched niches in plaster and ornamental rows of merlons are observed at different stages of the straight parapet.
Architecturally, this structure is a typical three-domed Moghul mosque, but it is the most innovative one of all the Mughal monuments because of its four articulated corner towers or pavilions. Each of these consists of two enormous storeys and is an independent structure itself covered by a dome with an extended lotus finial. As a result this monument contains seven domes and hence giving the mosque, its name Sat Gambuj or seven domed mosque.
Prof Abu Sayeed M Ahmed is the Dean at the Department of Architecture at the University of Asia Pacific.