Historic Mosque City of Bagerhat
It is located in Bagerhat district in southern Bangladesh which is in Khulna Division. It is about 3 miles far from the main town of Bagerhat. Bagerhat is nearly 200 miles away from Dhaka which is the capital of Bangladesh
1. The Historic Mosque City of Bagerhat is an important evidence of medieval city in the south-west part of present Bagerhat district which is located in the south-west part of Bangladesh, at the meeting-point of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. The ancient city, formerly known as Khalifatabad, sprawls over on the southern bank of the old river Bhairab and flourished in the 15th century BC.
2. The magnificent city, which extended for 50 km2 contains some of the most significant buildings of the initial period of the development of Muslim architecture of Bengal. They include 360 mosques, public buildings, mausoleums, bridges, roads, water tanks and other public buildings constructed from baked brick.
3. This old city, created within a few years and covered up by the jungle after the death of its founder in 1459, is striking because of certain uncommon features. The density of Islamic religious monuments is explained by the piety of Khan Jahan, which is evidenced by the engraved inscription on his tomb.
4. The lack of fortifications is attributable to the possibilities of retreat into the impenetrable mangrove swamps of the Sunderbans. The quality of the infrastructures – the supply and evacuation of water, the cisterns and reservoirs, the roads and bridges – all reveal a perfect mastery of the techniques of planning and a will towards spatial organization.
5. The monuments, which have been partially disengaged from the vegetation, may be divided into two principal zones 6.5 km apart: to the West, around the mosque of Shait-Gumbad and to the East, around the mausoleum of Khan Jahan. More than 50 monuments have been catalogued: in the first group, the mosques of Singar, Bibi Begni and Clumakkola; and in the second, the mosques of Reza Khoda, Zindavir and Ranvijoypur.
# The ‘Sixty Dome Mosque has walls of unusually thick, tapered brick in the Tughlaq style and a hut-shaped roofline that anticipates later styles. The length of the mosque is 160 feet and width is 108 feet.
# There are 77 low domes arranged in seven rows of eleven, and one dome on each corner, bringing the total to 81 domes. There are four towers. Two of four towers were used to call azaan. The interior is divided into many aisles and bays by slender columns, which culminate in numerous arches that support the roof.
# The mosque has 77 squat domes with 7 four-sided pitched Bengali domes in the middle row.The vast prayer hall, although provided with 11 arched doorways on east and 7 each on north and south for ventilation and light, presents a dark and somber appearance inside. It is divided into 7 longitudinal aisles and 11 deep bays by a forest of 60 slender stone columns, from which springs rows of endless arches, supporting the domes.
# Six feet thick, slightly tapering walls and hollow and round, almost detached corner towers, resembling the bastions of fortress, each capped by small rounded cupolas, recall the Tughlaq architecture of Delhi.The mosque represents wonderful archeological beauty which was the signature in the 15th century.
- The planning of the city is distinctly dominated by Islamic architecture style; in particular, the embellishments are a combination of Mughal and Turkish architectural styles. The city covered 360 mosques (most of them of identical designs), many public buildings, mausoleums, bridges, network of roads and water reservoirs. The material used in building construction was baked bricks, which over the centuries deteriorated under saline conditions of the soil and the atmosphere.
- The layout, revealed after the recent removal of the vegetative growth around the historic city, indicates that the city developed in two distinct zones; the main zone is the Mosque of Shait Gumbaz and its precincts and the other zone to its east is the one encircling the Mausoleum of Khan Jahan. The two zones are separated by a distance of 6.5 kilometres (4.0 mi).
- The minarets embellish the front corners of the mosques. They stand at double the height of the facade. The towers at the rear corners are also similarly fashioned. The minarets are double storied and round in shape; projecting cornices surround the shafts up to the middle height of the minarets and a window fitted at this mid height provides ventilation and light. A spiral staircase in this minar leads to the top. Artificial tusks of elephants decorate the exterior of the minarets.
Most visitors to Bagerhat stay in Khulna as there is no decent accommodation or restaurants in Bagerhat. Travelling from Khulna takes about 45 minutes by bus. The bus may or may not stop at Shait Gumbad, if it does you can simply get off and start sightseeing. If it does not, then you can get a rickshaw from the bus stop to the main sights.
You can also hire a car from Khulna to take you, however, the bus trip is easy and scenic.
Shait Gumbad/Shat Gombuj/Shat Gumbaz or the Sixty Pillar Mosque:
Admission Tk100, Opening Times 9am- 5pm Tue- Sat & 2.30pm – 5pm Mon October -March, 9am – 6pm Tue- Sat & 2.30pm – 6pm Mon March -September
In order to preserve the Authenticity of the monuments , conservation and restoration actions have respected the use of original materials (lime and morte) . Notwithstanding , some of the original feature, such as stone pillars inside the mosques, reticulated windows, pediment , upper band of cornise ,were lost in earlier interventions.
Many of the structure continue to be religious and secular use contributing to the social and communal harmony by the way of retaining the original feature of traditional practice.
# The orginal picturesque location and the natural setting of these densely located religious and secular monuments along with the medieval from and design are intact. The property of the Historic mosque city of Bagerhat contains and preserve all the necessary elements which include not only mosques but also residence , roads, ancient ponds, tomb, ancient graveyard. Therefore , the attributes of the city are still preserved.
# The threat of the unauthorized activities by the community and the extreme salinity of the soil and atmosphere , which can potentially threaten the physically integrity of the attributes, are being closely monitored by the site managers. In particular, interventions are needed to preserve the Shatgumboj Mosque.
Protection and management requirements-
- The property is managed under the Antiquities Act, 1968 (Amendment 1976). In addition the Department of Archaeology protects the property under the Antiquities Export Control Act (1947), the Immovable Antiquities Preservation Rules (1976), the Conservation Manual (1923) and the Archaeological Works Code (1938).
- The Department of Archaeology ensures that inappropriate activities which may affect the Outstanding Universal Value of property such as buildings or infrastructure cannot be constructed within or close to the property, and no one can alter or deface monuments within the property.
- The Government of Bangladesh has worked on the implementation of recommendations set out in the Master plan prepared by UNESCO 1973/74-1977/78 for the conservation and presentation of the Historic Mosque City of Bagerhat.
- Though the financial efforts have been made to address the conservation problem derived from salinity, this has not been comprehensively solved and deterioration has continued. The implementation of the management plan, including conservation provisions, will need to be monitored so as to evaluate achieved results and provide new action plans in response to emerging conditions.
- Conservation of the historic landscape, buffer zone and the property has yet to be addressed. A number of issues have recently been identified and will constitute the basis for a new project named “South Asia Tourism Infrastructure Development Project” (Bangladesh Portion), which is going to be shortly implemented.
- Challenges to sustainably manage these concerns, along with the conservation of the property, will need to be taken up to ensure the long term preservation and protection of its Outstanding Universal Value.