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Miah Bari mosque at Karapur, Barisal

  • Published at 02:44 pm May 26th, 2019


Just about ten kilometers from the divisional headquarter Barisal is a village named Ruiya under the union Karapur, where the remnants of a large residential complex is found. This complex comprises of two big tanks with associated ghat, ruins of several boundary walls and the foundations of a few residential buildings. These recall the glorious past of this settlement. This impressive two storied mosque structure is located on the north eastern part of the complex and eastern bank of a large tank, presently known as Miah Bari mosque. While this edifice bears no inscription, according to the historian M. Hasan it was probably constructed in the early eighteenth century (Hasan 1987: 23), when two storied mosque structures such as the Khan Muhammad Mridha (1706) and Kartalab Khan (1704) mosques were popular in Dhaka. 

A single flight of steps, 3.02m wide, leads to the roof of the platform from the ground, where the main prayer hall is found. The high plinth or platform gives a majestic look to the Miah Bari Mosque, the railing of which was broken and now missing. The square shaped arched substructure of the tahkhana is presently used as a madrasa and two old unknown graves are lying under the flight of steps. The tahkhana is covered by a brick flat-roof that is derived from the technique of flat arch construction.  

The main sanctuary or prayer hall is placed on the western side of the platform and has the usual oblong plan, measuring 13.49m long and 6.1m wide externally with a 1.65m thick surrounding plastered brick wall. The prayer hall is entered from the eastern side by three archway and the other two side walls also have one-pointed arched openings each. The central archway is larger than the flanking ones and is projected slightly towards the front. Each of those openings is bounded by a slender engaged turret extended high above the roof level and ended in a pinnacle. Instead of typical alcoved Mughal styled opening, each of the openings in this mosque has a cusped arch on the outside surface and four centered pointed arch on inside where the wooden louvered shutter was fixed. All the architectural elements observed on the frontal facade repeat outside the qibla wall. Entrances are substituted by blind openings which are bare of any ornamentation. The four corner turrets, one at each corner and two additional turrets on the front and back facades are octagonal in shape, extended high above the roof level with their plastered blind kiosk divided by three eaves and ended in a small cupola having an amla kalasa typed finial. The whole length of the rectangular hall is divided into three unequal bays by means of two1.05 m wide arches springing from the east and west walls. The side bays are rectangular in shape and smaller in width, butthe central one is bigger and square. With the help of brick pendentives the square central bay is transformed into an octagonal area and again by squinces at each octagonal corner formed a circular supporting area, upon which the dome supports. The domes have an octagonal shoulder and are crowned with elongated finials. 

Except the bare western wall, the upper part of the rest three outer wall surfaces is profusely ornamented in plaster. The floral relief has white surface coating and the recessed surface is painted in blue. The perforated floral screen is embellished on the straight and projected eaves, and set as a parapet in the alignment of the entrance opening. The noteworthy features of this edifice are the introduction of two additional turrets in the front and back facade, colorful stucco floral ornamentations and the perforated floral screen as pediment of entrance opening, which proves that it belongs to the late Mughal period.  

Prof Abu Sayeed M Ahmed is the Dean at the Department of Architecture at the University of Asia Pacific

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