Shat Gambuj Mosque
‘Heritage’ is what we inherit from the past, live with them in the present and then pass on to our children or future generation. Our unique source of life and inspiration is our cultural and natural heritage. When we speak of ‘World Heritage’, it indicates places and sites that we got from the past and pass on to the future generation of the entire world.
The ‘Shat Gambuj Mosque’ in Bagerhat is such a heritage. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
Originally, the historic Mosque City was known as ‘ Khalifatabad’. It is situated at the outskirts of Bagerhat town— not very far from the dense angrove forest of the Sundarbans. Khalifatabad was a Muslim colony. It was founded by the Turkish general, a saint warrior Ulugh Khan Jahan in the 15th century. The infrastructure of the city reveals significant technical skills in many mosques as well as early Islamic monuments. Baked bricks are used for the construction of the buildings. The planning of the city is distinctly dominated by Islamic architecture and the decorations are a combination of Mughal and Turkish architecture.
Khan Jahan built a network of roads, bridges, public buildings and reservoirs to make the city habitable. There are about 360 mosques in the city. Among them the most remarkable is the multi-domed Shat Gombuj Mosque. The mosque is unique in the sense that it has 60 pillars that support the roof, with 77 low height domes. The 4 towers at 4 corners have smaller domes on the roof as well. The vast prayer hall has 11 arched doorways on the east and 7 each on the north and south for light and ventilation. It has 7 aisles running along the length of the mosque and 11 deep curves between the slender stone columns. These columns support the curving arches created by the domes. The thickness of the arches is 6 feet and have slightly narrowing hollow and round wall.
The west wall in the interior has 11 ‘mihrabs’ (niche in mosque pointing towards Makkah). These mihrabs are decorated with stonework and terracotta. The floor of the mosque is made of brick.
Besides being used as a prayer hall, Khan Jahan used the mosque as his court also. Today, it is one of the greatest tourist attractions and one of the best architectural beauties of Bangladesh.