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Galakata mosque at Barobazar-Jhenaidah

  • Published at 03:17 pm January 4th, 2020

The Galakata mosque is situated on the northern side of the main road in the westernmost part of the old city Barobazar under Kaliganj upazilla of the District Jhenaidah. This mosque bears no inscription, but according to its stylistic resemblance with the architecture of early Ilyas Shahi period in Choto Pandua and Hazrat Pandua; such as freestanding stone pillar will chain and bell motive on the round shaped shaft and a petal capital, multi-unit prayer hall, octagonal turret, vertical off set and recessed niche containing mouldings or frieze on the base, it may be assumed that this structure was built in early 15th or late 14th century AD prior to the Khan Jahan’s architectural development in Bagerhat. This ruined mosque was reconstructed by the Archaeology Department of Bangladesh and thus presently seems to be in good state of preservation.                                                                                                                

This mosque conforms to the typical oblong enclosed mosques in Bengal built during the early Islamic period. The interior of the prayer hall, measuring 11.83m by 8.22m externally, is divided into two bays and three aisles surrounded by a thick brick wall. The mosque has access only from the eastern side by three pointed entrance archways, of which the central one is higher and wider than the flanking ones. The three entrance archways in the east are flanked with two pointed arches bordered within recessed rectangular frames with parallel raised brick mouldings on the top. The northern and southern walls have two arched openings each. These side openings were once closed by perforated terracotta screens up to the soffit of the arch, but top part is now disappeared. The area (tympanum) between the lintel and the arch is now sealed by new bricks. The lower part or the opening seal is made of different shaped moulded bricks; even two cylindrical shaped brick terminate both end of the opening. This type of window seal can be observed in the western openings of the Bari mosque at Hazrat Pandua. 

Corresponding to the entrance openings in the frontal wall, the qibla wall contains three highly ornamented mihrab niches; among them the central one is bigger than the ones on each side. All the mihrabs are faced with multi-foiled arches that rise from decorated octagonal brick pilasters. They are bordered within two rectangular frames with two parallel terracotta details on the top within recessed brick mouldings and merlon shaped ornamentation on the top. The outside of the kibla wall shows a projection of the main mihrab niche. There are four rectangular niches in each of the northern, southern and western side with parallel terracotta mouldings on the bottom of the niches.

A noteworthy feature of the mosque interior is the freestanding stone pillars. Traditionally the base and the capital of the stone pillar are square in shape and similar in design. And the shaft is multi faced without ornamentation. Similar to the pillars used in the Bari mosque at Choto Pandua and Adina mosque at Hazrat Pandua, the shafts of these pillars are tapered and circular in shape and also ornate with chain and bell motifs. The base of the pillar is square in shape but the capital has fluted petal, and smaller in size than the base. This gives the impression of a weak structure for the supporting arch of the dome. 

Two freestanding stone pillars and eight partly concealed pilasters support the roof of six equal hemispherical domes. The brick pendentives at each corner of a square grid transfer the square supporting area into a circular base, upon which six hemispherical domes rest. The shoulder of the dome is ornate from within, with a row of mouldings impressed with terracotta lozenge and a row of merlon above it. This mosque has only four octagonal corner turrets, one at each corner of the building. Surprisingly, the base of the turrets is circular in shape from which the octagonal upper part goes up. Probably the cornices were curved, but made straight during the restorations in the later times.

Prof Abu Sayeed M Ahmed is the Dean at the Department of Architecture at the University of Asia Pacific.