After crossing the Gabtali bridge, two kilometers on the Dhaka-Savar highway, a small village named Dewanbari lies on the right, where the Chini Tikri mosque is located. This mosque was built by a wholesale leather trader, Hazi Janab Ali, in 1880. The mosque proper lies on the northern side of a big water tank and the western side of the courtyard, approached by an elegant ghat from the tank, which was used as ablution space before the prayer. The whole compound is surrounded by a low boundary wall on three sides and the main house on the north. Presently, this compound is accessed through a narrow street from the highway.
The typical single dome mosque has a square shaped plan, but surprisingly, this mosque proper is oblong in plan with a fore-room. The mosque proper stands on a high podium reached by a flight of steps to the frontal open verandah. It measures externally 7.42m by 7.20m and internally the prayer hall is 5.64m by 3.23m with a 2.11m wide fore-room. There are three arched openings in the east facade and one at each side of the fore-room. The main hall is accessed by three openings from the fore-room and has one opening at each of the north and south side. Corresponding to the eastern openings, there are three mihrab niches in the kibla wall; the central one is semicircular and the flanking ones are shallow rectangular in shape. Each of these mihrab niches, contained within a rectangular frame, is arched with multi-foil cusps in the face. The outside of the kibla wall shows the reflection in ornamentation of the three mihrab niche or the three entrance opening.
The central archway is slightly larger than the flanking ones and is projected slightly towards the front flanked on either side by lofty slender turrets to emphasize the central axis. The flanking turrets have kalasa base and ended on the top in a pinnacle extended beyond the parapet. There are six octagonal turrets at the corners; four at the corner of the main hall and two in the fore-room. They are slender in proportion and extended high above the parapet with elongated blind kiosk.
The main prayer hall is divided into three bays; the central one is square and the flanking ones are rectangular in shape. The square bay is roofed over by a semicircular dome in the centre and the side bays are roofed over by two semi-circular half vaults springing from the northern and southern wall. The base or shoulder of the dome is decorated from inside with blind merlons and projected mouldings.The fore room is divided into two equal bays by three lateral arches running from the east to west wall. These arches are also supported by brick pilasters engaged in the corresponding walls.
Prof Abu Sayeed M Ahmed is the Dean at the Department of Architecture at the University of Asia Pacific.