7 spots to hit up in Thakurgaon
By Ashik Uz Zaman Ashik
JAMALPUR ZAMINDAR BARI JAME MOSQUE
The historic Jamalpur Zamindar Bari is located in Jamalpur Union in Thakurgaon. Jamal Uddin, a descendant of Roshan Ali of the Tajpur Parganas in West Bengal, India, found the region’s estate and laid the foundation stone of the Zamindar’s house in 1862. This nearly 150-year-old structure bears a distinctive arched entryway.
Before the construction of the zamindar house was completed, he started construction of a mosque in 1867. The mosque was named Jamalpur Zamindar Bari Jame Masjid, and the construction of the zamindar house remained unfinished until the construction of the expensive mosque was completed. About 300-600 Muslims can pray at the Jamalpur Zamindar Bari Jame Mosque, which has been listed by the Bangladesh Archaeological Department. It is one of the very few mosques in the region that boasts floral ornamentation.
At present, the descendants of the zamindar family are in charge of looking after the zamindar house and Jamalpur Jame mosque.
RAJA TONKONATH’S PALACE
Raja Tonkonath’s palace is situated on the banks of the Kulik river in the Ranishankil Upazila of Thakurgaon district. This Palace is 40 km from Thakurgaon Sadar and 1.3 km from Ranishankil Upazila.
It is said that Buddhinath Chowdhury, the father of King Tonkonath, was a Maithili Brahmin. He was engaged in the service of the Shyamrai temple of Katihar Ghosh from the Goala dynasty.
The childless Goala zamindar, before going to Kashibas, documented the copper leaf and left it under the supervision of zamindari sevayat. As the Zamindar did not return, Buddhinath Chowdhury inherited the estate. In the 19th century, Buddhinath Chowdhury started constructing zamindar houses on about 10 acres of land, but King Tonkonath completed the construction work.
In 1925, the British government awarded Tonkonath the title of Chowdhury and received King title from Maharaja Girijnath Roy of Dinajpur. At present, on the west side of the palace ruins, the lion’s door bears a compass rose. King Tonkonath’s royal palace has Kasaribari, two ponds, 200 meters away from the Ramachandra (Joykali) temple. The Ramachandra temple is known to be much older than king Tonkonath’s royal palace. In 1971, the temple was badly damaged in the liberation war and has now almost become rubble.
Ballia Masjid (Balia Mosque) is one of the various historical structures and archaeological artifacts of the Thakurgaon district.
Local folklore will have you believe that construction on the mosque was started by jinns on a new moon night, and the structure sprang up overnight, although the dome had not been installed yet. The Balia mosque would remain abandoned and homeless for centuries until renovation work began in 2005, and in 2010 it opened services. The locals still refer to this as the Mosque of the Jinn.
The inscriptions on the mosque date it as being constructed in 1910 by Meher Box Chowdhury, husband of the Balia zaminder’s daughter Gulmati Chowdhurani, built the ‘Ballia Masjid.’ But there was no accurate information about the construction period of the mosque. The rational explanation is that the mosque was incomplete because Chowdhury passed away in 1910.
The Ballia Mosque is similar to the Mughal establishments in Dhaka. The mosque complex is built in three parts: the front door, open square, and main building. And the main mosque is built on a 42-inch-wide wall without pillars. The rectangular mosque, 62 feet 6 inches in the east-west and 69 feet 2 inches to the north-south, stands on a platform about 5 feet 3 inches above flat ground.
There are 3 domes and 8 minarets on the roof of Balia Masjid, about 17 feet above the floor. The walls of the mosque, made of lime-surki, hand-burnt bricks, and tiles, have been cut into various designs in the shape of a lotus, colossus, bell, amla, and dish-bowls.
BALIADANGI SURJOPURI MANGO TREE
There is an exceptional ancient mango tree in Mandu Mala village on the Harinmari border of Baliadangi Upazila of Thakurgaon district, which people have a special interest in seeing. Known as the Baliadangi Surjopuri Mango Tree, it covers about 2.5 bighas of land along the Indian border. As a result, it has been recognized as the largest mango tree on the Asian continent.
The Baliadangi Surjopuri mango tree is about 80-90 feet high and is about 35 feet wide. 19 thick branches have grown on 3 sides of the mango tree.
From a distance, every branch of the tree seems to be a mango tree. Even though there is no exact data on when this famous mango tree was planted, it is believed that the Baliadangi Surjopuri mango tree is more than 200 years old. Every day many visitors come to see this tree, which is currently owned by Noor Islam and Saidur Islam.
Noor Islam’s great grandfather planted the tree. Every year the tree has a lot of mangoes, each weighing about 200-250 grams, which sell at high prices. Tin fences have been placed around the tree for people’s interest, and 15 people regularly maintain the tree. One has to pay a fee of Tk 20 for a close look at the tree.
Haripur Rajbari stands in the heart of Haripur Upazila of Thakurgaon district as a witness to time. Raghavendra Roy Chowdhury, a Ghan Shyam Kundo, laid down the foundation stone in 1893. Later, his son Jagendra Narayan Roy Chowdhury completed the building.
It is said that in 1400 Ghan Shyam Kundo came to Haripur for the Endi textile business. At that time, Mehrunnesa, a Muslim widow, was the Zamindar of the region. Kundo purchased some of her estates on auction, and Jagendra Narayan Roy, son of Raghavendra Roy, a descendant of Ghan Shyam Kundo, started work on the Haripur palace in the late 19th century.
The British government awarded Jagendra Narayan Roy the title of “Rajrishi” for various philanthropic activities.
Many ancient artifacts have emerged in the spectacular carvings of the century old Haripur palace. On the eastern wall of this Zamindar’s house are leaves ornamented by Rajrishi Jagendra Narayan’s fourteen busts.
On the eastern side is the 400-year-old terracotta Shiv and Nat temple. In 1900, due to the division of Ghanshyam’s descendants, Haripur Rajbari was divided into two parts, the palace on the big side and the palace on the small side.
At present, various rooms of the abandoned Haripur Palace are used as offices for various organizations,
Another historical place in Thakurgaon, about five kilometers west of Nekmarad, is Gorakai or Gorkui. And here is the famous Goraksanath temple and Nath Ashram. Some historians consider Gorakhnath to be a disciple of Minnath, the religious leader of the Nathpanthis. According to the researchers, Gorakhnath is not the name of any particular person, more like a title of Guru or Yogi of the Nathpanthi community.
Nath are somehow protecting their ancient memories by joining the Hindu society.
The Goraksanath temple and ashram, reminiscent of Gorakhnath, the guru of this Nathpanthi sect, is located on a high ground on the banks of a dead river at Gorakhui in Ranishankail. There are a total of 5 temples in the temple premises. Apart from 3 Shiva temples and 1 Kali temple, there is 1 main temple which is known as Nath temple. This Nathmandir is located in the middle of the south facing courtyard. Behind it, in the middle of a structure like a stone-paved cistern on the north side, there is a miraculous idara or well surrounded by large pieces of black stone. The lowest part of the well is paved with stone. But sometimes there is a hole through which water comes to the well from below. Standing around the well, many people take a holy bath together, but the water of the well does not decrease. There was an inscription or plaque on the door of the ashram with tin rice in the north courtyard of the temple. This inscription is now preserved in the Dinajpur Museum. Although it is not possible to decipher it completely, according to the eminent researcher Professor Abu Talib, this inscription is the oldest inscription ever discovered in the Bengali script.
Shalbari Mosque stands in Sindurna village in Raipur union of Sadar upazila of Thakurgaon district. Sindurna is about 20 km to the southwest of the district town. The mosque is in the eastern quarter of the village. The area is known as Shalbari, possibly because of the Shal trees all around.
The inscription bearing the date of construction of the mosque is now found fixed on the wall of a nearby modern mosque. The inscription records 1295 BS (1888 AD) as the date of construction of the mosque, and mentions that it was built for the Shia community by the descendants of the Zamindar of Sitalpur in Purnia district, who came and settled in Sindurna. The mosque has been thoroughly renovated recently and has been extended in the eastern side. The western projection of the mihrab was added in 1994.
It is a square (5.20m x 5.20m on the outside) single domed mosque with a 1.20m wide veranda on the east. This has now been extended and made into a room. There are three arched entrances on the eastern facade; the central one is 0.70m wide and 2.15m high, the flanking arches are smaller than the central one, but these two are equal in size. There are towers in the four corners. There are three mihrabs in the western wall. The central one is bigger than the flanking ones. There are two windows, one each on the south and north sides. The walls are now plastered and no ornamentation is visible. Local people indicate that the mosque once had surface decorations with floral and creeper motifs.