4 Must-see Mosques Of Chapai Nawabganj

By Ashik Uz Zaman

The ‘Mango Capital’ of Bangladesh is also home to some stunning architectural artefacts

Chapai Nawabganj is an administrative district in the Rajshahi division, located on the northwestern border of Bangladesh. Also referred to as either Chapai or Nawabganj, it was once part of the Maldah district of West Bengal (India). In 1947, it was partitioned from Maldah and included in East Pakistan as a subdivision of Rajshahi district. In 1984, it was established as a district.

The ‘Nawabganj’ part of its name harkens back to the pre-British era and the British Raj when it was the favoured hunting grounds of the Nawabs of Murshidabad. The region is famous for its mangoes, which are the lifeblood of the local economy. With the country’s largest mango markets setting up here during the summers, Chapai Nawabganj is the Mango Capital of Bangladesh.

Other than the delicious fruit, there are many sight-seeing opportunities that make this district a point of interest for travellers. Attractions of note include the Choto Sona Mosque, Shah Neamotullah’s Tomb, Chamchika Mosque, Darasbari Mosque, Dhaniyachak Mosque, Shopnopalli, and Nachol Palace. Let’s take a closer look at the major mosques.

DARASBARI MASJID

Darasbari Masjid is located near Ampur in Chapai Nawabganj Sadar. Residents know the site of this mosque as Darasbari.

According to its inscription, the Darasbari Mosque was built in 1497 under the rule of Sultan Shamsuddin Yusuf. It was originally named the Ferozepur Mosque, but after the establishment of Darasbari Madrassa in 1504, it began to be referred to as the Darasbari Mosque, and the name stuck.

The structure, built with terracotta bricks, has many similarities with the Chamchika Mosque in India. The interior space of the mosque is divided into two parts, and has an ornate main dome. An interesting feature includes a balcony 99 feet 5 inches in length and 34 feet 9 inches in width, and 10 feet 7 inches to the mosque’s east.

There are a total of 9 crafted mihrabs in the mosque. And to the north of the mosque is a huge moat of about 60 bighas in size.

The Togra-inspired Yusufi Shahi script from the historic Darasbari Mosque is currently preserved in the Kolkata Museum.

CHOTO SONA MOSQUE

The Choto Sona Mosque, located only 3 km from Kotwali Gate in Champainnawganj district and half a kilometer from the Tahkhana complex, is known as the jewel of Sultani architecture in Shahbazpur Union of Shivganj Upazila in Champainnawganj district of Rajshahi division.

Inscriptions placed on the main entrance of the Small Sona Mosque show that between 1493 and 1519, during the reign of Sultan Husain Shah, one Mansoor Wali Muhammad bin Ali commissioned the construction of this mosque.

There was once a common practice to wrap the main domes of the mosque in gold. With the existence of another, larger gold-domed mosque located closer to the Bangladesh-India border, this mosque became known as the ‘Choto Sona’ or ‘Minor Gold’ Mosque.

The front courtyard of the mosque extends 42 meters from west to east and 43.5 meters from south to north.

The mosque was built in the Sultani architectural style. It has 12 brick domes. The walls around the mosque are about 6 feet wide and covered with a grey granite tile. There are 4 detention minarets in the four corners of the mosque, 5 arch entrances to the east of the mosque and 3 each to the south and north. There are 5 mihrabs on the walls of the direct west side of the east entrance.

The north side of the mosque faces a huge lake. On the west side of the mosque is a modern guest house built by the archaeological authority of the Government of Bangladesh.

KHONIADIGHI MOSQUE

Khaniyadighi/Khoniadighi Mosque, located in Shivaganj in Chapai Nawabganj district, about 36 km from the district headquarters, is an ancient historical architectural artifact in Bangladesh.The ancient mosque is well known to the locals as Rajbibi Mosque and sometimes as Chamchika Masjid. It is estimated to have been constructed from 1450 to 1565 during the Gauro capital.

The length of the Khaniyadighi Mosque is 62 feet, and the width is 42 feet. The use of stones in pillars and the cornices of mosques adorned with terracotta and brick designs can be observed.

Built in the Mughal architectural style, each arm of the main square room of the Khaniyadighi Mosque is 28 feet long. The mosque walls are about 7 feet wide, so the atmosphere inside the mosque remains cool even in the scorching heat. The main mosque has a giant dome on the roof and 3 small-sized domes on the verandah roof. The giant lake next to the mosque is called Khania Dighi.

TIN GOMBUJ MASJID

The Tin Gombuj Masjid (Three Dome Mosque), one of the oldest structures of the Mughal period, is located at Ferozepur in Shahbazpur Union of Shivganj Upazila of Chapai Nawabganj district.

Bengal Sultan Shah Souza built the mosque addressed by Shah Syed Nyamatullah, a famous Islamic preacher of the Middle Ages.

The historic archaeological site, listed by the Department of Archaeology in Bangladesh as Shah Nayamat Ullah Mosque.

The rectangular three dome mosque has a huge mosque room, 3 mihrab, and 3 entrances to the front. The middle door of the 3 entrances is relatively large.

Near the mosque are the tomb of Shah Nayamat Ullah and a two-story edifice of the Mughal period built by Sultan Shah Souza. The sultan Shah Souza’s building, 116 feet in length and 38 feet in width, is known as “Tahakhana.”

The three domes belong to the mosque, while the palace, and the tomb of Shah Nayamat Ullah belong to the Tahakhana complex. Sultan Shah Souza built this building to facilitate his Morshed Hazrat Shah Nayamat Ullah’s stay in the winter.

HOW TO GET THERE

The distance from Dhaka to Champainawganj is about 302 km, and the distance from Rajshahi to Chapai Nawganj is 319 km.
Chapai Nawabganj is accessible by road and rail from Dhaka. It takes about 7 hours to reach this district from Dhaka by road. It can also be reached by air via Rajshahi.

WHERE TO STAY

There are many hotels to stay, such as Government Rest House (Rohanpur Upazila), Johrul Cottage (Shahabazpur Upazila), Hotel Al-Hera, Hotel Al-Nahid etc. Options in the city area include Hotel Rose, Lal Boarding and Hotel Shopnopuri. Parjatan Motel is another reliable option.

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