Bangladesh: A Visit to the Shat Gambuj Mosque
To the uninitiated, Bangladesh can seem like a logistical nightmare: subdivided into 6 divisions and all named after their respective capitals: the Dhaka Division, Chittagong Division, Khulna Division, Sylhet Division, Rajshahi Division and Barishal Division. All contain a wealth of sites and sounds for visitors to thoroughly immerse themselves in.
The Khulna division is in the southwest part of Bangladesh contains one of the country’s most historical, simple, yet impressive structures: the Shat Gambuj Mosque.
Legend has it that in the mid-15th century, a Muslim colony was founded in the forboding mangrove forest of the Sundarbans near the seacoast in the Bagerhat district by a now lost-to-history General by the name of Ulugh Khan Jahan. Jahan — one of first followers of Islam in the South — created the foundation for one of the most affluent cities during the reign of Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud Shah (1442-59). Khan Jahan embarked on a creative building odyssey that remains impressive to this day — building numerous mosques, roads and other public buildings — the most impressive of which is a multi-domed Mosque; then known as the Shait-Gumbad Masjid.
Completed in the year 1459, the mosque is an architectural masterpiece, boasting over with 77 squat domes, including seven chauchala or 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, creates a dark and somber appearance perfect for meditation. It is divided into 7 longitudinal aisles and 11 deep bays by a forest of slender stone columns, from which springs rows of endless arches, supporting the domes.
Simple in appearance, yet spectacular in design – the mosque is 160 ft long and 108 ft. wide.
This is one of the most beautiful archeological and historical mosques in Bangladesh, and is easily reached by bus from various points in each of Bang’s six divisions. For a complete list of reputable travel and tour operators that can help you on your way, check out the travel and hotels links within Bangladesh.com.