Darasbari Mosque – Historic Bengal Architecture
As one of the mosques built in the era of Shamsuddin Yusuf Shah, ruler of Bengal between 1474 and 1481, Darasbari Mosque is a typical Bengali Jami Masjid from that period. Built of red-tinged bricks and featuring decorative terracotta on both the interior and exterior, the mosque now lies in ruins with no roof and a collapsed verandah, but nevertheless retains some of its former splendor. The mosque takes its name from the fact that it was located within a place of learning, a darasbari, referring to the madrasa located on the east of the mosque.
Consisting of two distinct parts, the mosque has a verandah in front on the eastern side, with the main prayer chamber on the west. A wide nave runs east-west dividing the mosque longitudinally. The building originally had a series of chauchala vaults and domes over the prayer chamber and nave, many of which no longer exist. The northwest corner has an upper storey which can only be accessed via a flight of steps from outside. Some scholars are of the opinion that this was a ladies’ gallery, while others believe it was a royal gallery, and that the entrance would have been protected by guards.
Both the interior and exterior ornamentation of Darasbari Mosque is considered to be some of the best found in the Gaur-Lakhnauti region. The exterior walls feature terracotta panels imprinted with a variety of motifs, while the interior is patterned with brick settings, and the mihrabs in each of the bays are decorated with arches framed by terracotta creepers, rosettes, foliage and other plants. A type of glazing has been used on some of the terracotta, which has both preserved it and sets it apart from other terracotta examples in the region. However, the walls extending to the south and west have lost their terracotta embellishments.
When the Darasbari Mosque was in its prime, it was considered to be one of the most noteworthy examples of Sultanate mosques in this part of Bangladesh. Along with its contemporaries, the mosque displays the design which came to be viewed as the Bengal style of architecture from the medieval era.