Tuesday, 30 May, 2023

Historic mosque city of Bagerhat

Although centuries-old historic mosques exist in various parts of the country, Bagerhat is especially significant as a treasure trove of ancient and historical monuments. What makes Bagerhat even more remarkable is that the city was once lost, literally off the face of the earth, hidden under earth and growth of vegetation. It was rediscovered only a couple of centuries ago.

Lying on the edge of world famous Sundarbans and meeting point of the majestic Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers, the ancient city was founded by Turkish general Khan Jahan Ali in the 15th century. Formerly known as Khalifatabad, it was a magnificent city back then, housing some of the most significant and spectacular 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. All of those infrastructures were built following the Indo-Islamic architecture, which required great knowledge and technical skills.

Surprisingly, the medieval city built during the Sultanate period became concealed by forest and vegetation following the death of its founder Khan Jahan Ali in 1459. When the vegetation was eventually removed, the city came into full public view, grabbed attention globally, and UNESCO bestowed its recognition and declared it as a World Heritage Site.

Of the many architectural masterpieces to be found in the city from the mediaeval era, the Sixty Dome Mosque is undoubtedly the most famous. Believed to be the largest mosque in Bangladesh, it has no less than 60 pillars and 77 domes.

There are other places within Bagerhat City that also attract a huge number of visitors, such as the Sona Mosque, the mosque of Singar, Durgapur Shiva Math, Ghora Dighi (horse pond), Khan Jahan Ali’s tomb etc. to name a few. Legend has it that behind the naming of Ghora Dighi, Emperor Khan Jahan Ali had ordered the pond to be stretched in length as far as a horse could run.

A visit to Bagerhat is an opportunity to see, feel, admire and embrace many magnificent historic architectural monuments literally resurrected from their graves for present and forthcoming generations to gaze upon with awe and ponder how many people over the centuries walked upon these graves not knowing anything about the large slice of Bangladesh history and treasure city that lay underneath.