The spread of Islam in Bangladesh took root during the Sultanate period, leaving behind a rich legacy of historical mosques. Today, Bangladesh, aptly known as the “City of Mosques,” boasts numerous structures that stand as testaments to faith, architecture, and resilience. While many mosques haven’t survived the ravages of time, those that remain offer a glimpse into Bangladesh’s vibrant Islamic heritage. In this article, we explore the top ten historical mosques in Bangladesh, each one a captivating story waiting to be discovered.

1. Sixty Dome Mosque

Sixty Dome Mosque

Quick facts about the Sixty Dome Mosque:

  • The mosque is made of brick and has a rectangular shape. The walls are 8.5 feet thick.
  • The interior of the mosque is divided into 11 aisles by 10 rows of columns.
  • The central mihrab is the largest and most ornate mihrab in the mosque.
  • There is a small door next to the central mihrab on the north side of the mosque.

Bangladesh is home to three distinct UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and the Sixty Dome Mosque stands proudly among them. There’s no precise information about its builders or exact construction date, but architectural clues point towards Khan Jahan’s hand in its creation. This ancient mosque, nestled in Bagerhat district’s southwest corner, is believed to have risen in the 15th century. Standing the test of time and significant expense, Bagerhat’s Sixty Dome Mosque earned its coveted World Heritage status from UNESCO in 1985.

The mosque stretches roughly 160 feet north to south, with an internal length of 143 feet. Its east-west expanse measures 104 feet, while the interior width is 88 feet. The walls themselves are a sturdy 8.5 feet thick. As for the famed domes, their number seems to have sparked some debate. While 81 might be the technical count (11 domes in 7 rows + 4 corner domes), the passage of time has cemented “Sixty Domes” in popular parlance, and the mosque’s moniker reflects this endearing nickname.

Over time, the 81 domes (or perhaps 77, as previously mentioned) became commonly known as the Sixty Domes, eventually earning the name Sixty Domes Mosque. During Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud Shah’s reign (1435-59), Azam Uluq Khan Jahan Khan established the Khalifabad Kingdom near the Sundarbans. Khan Jahan also constructed a courtroom for meetings, which later transformed into the magnificent Sixty Domes Mosque.

Stepping inside the mosque, visitors encounter ten mihrabs adorning the west wall. The central mihrab stands out for its grandeur, while five additional mihrabs grace the south wall and four embellish the north. An interesting detail emerges beside the central mihrab on the north side: instead of the expected mihrab, a small door stands in its place. This captivating quirk adds to the mosque’s rich history and intrigue.

The Sixty Domes Mosque stands as a testament to Bangladesh’s architectural heritage and its enduring legacy. While it’s just one of Bagerhat district’s treasures, its captivating beauty and historical significance make it a must-visit for any traveler seeking a glimpse into Bangladesh’s vibrant past.

2. Chunakhola Mosque

Chunakhola Mosque

Quick facts about the Chunakhola Mosque

  • The walls of the 7.7 sq m square building are 2.24 m thick.
  • It has 3 doorways on the east side and one entrance on the north and south sides.
  • Three mihrabs grace the interior, with the central one being the largest.

Chunkhola Mosque is an antiquity located in the Bagerhat district of Bangladesh. Dating back to the fifteenth century, the mosque is situated in the village of Chunkhola. The architectural style of the mosque differs from other styles built by Khan Jahan Ali.

The mosque features a half-dome. The brick walls were demolished and renovated in 1980 with the help of UNESCO. This mosque ranks among the top ten historical mosques in Bangladesh.

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3. Kusumba Mosque

Kusumba Mosque

Quick facts about the Kusumba Mosque

  • Location: Village of Kusumba, Manda Upazila, Naogaon District, Bangladesh
  • Construction: 966 AH (1558-59 AD) during the reign of Ghiyasuddin Bahadur Shah, the last ruler of the Suri dynasty
  • Material: Dark stone
  • Layout: Rectangular form with three mihrabs (prayer niches) – one central and two flanking the central passageway
  • Interior: Spacious prayer hall divided into three naves and two aisles, light streaming through entrances on the eastern, north, and south sides, raised platform in the northwest corner possibly used by judges in the past
  • Exterior: Surrounded by a vast 25.83-acre reservoir called the Kusumba Dighi, which reflects the mosque’s grandeur and enhances the tranquility of the landscape
  • Significance: Featured on the Bangladeshi five-taka note, stands as a beacon of cultural heritage and architectural brilliance

Nestled in the village of Kusumba, Manda Upazila, Naogaon District, Bangladesh, stands the Kusumba Mosque, a magnificent testament to Afghan-era artistry. Built during the reign of Ghiyasuddin Bahadur Shah, the last ruler of the Suri dynasty, the mosque’s construction was overseen by a man named Sulaiman in 966 AH (1558-59 AD). This date is proudly displayed on a plaque gracing the mosque’s entrance.

Clad in dark stone, the mosque rises gracefully on the west bank of the Kusumba Dighi. Its rectangular form embraces three mihrabs – prayer niches indicating the direction of Mecca – each crafted from the same somber stone. The central mihrab stands independent from the western wall, while two smaller ones flank the central passageway, mirroring its design on the floor. This unique three-mihrab configuration is a rarity in mosque architecture.

Intricate floral and vine motifs embellish the mihrabs, echoing the herbal patterns adorning the mosque’s overall design. Six rounded domes, arranged in two rows, crown the structure, while a slightly curved cornice and engaged rectangular towers add Bengali flair to the predominantly Afghan architectural style.

Stepping inside, one is greeted by a spacious prayer hall divided into three naves and two aisles. Light streams through three entrances on the eastern facade and one each on the north and south sides. In the northwest corner, a raised platform atop a pillar whispers of the mosque’s past. Legend has it that judges of the era used this platform to address local matters, adding to the mosque’s historical significance.

Beyond the mosque itself, a vast reservoir spanning 25.83 acres completes the scene. This serene pool, known as the Kusumba Dighi, reflects the mosque’s grandeur and enhances the tranquility of the surrounding landscape.

Featured on the Bangladeshi five-taka note, the Kusumba Mosque stands as a beacon of cultural heritage and architectural brilliance. Its unique blend of Afghan and Bengali influences makes it a must-visit for anyone seeking a glimpse into Bangladesh’s rich history and captivating artistry.

4. Goaldi Mosque

Goaldi Mosque

Quick facts about the Goaldi Mosque

  • Built in 1519 under Sultan Alauddin Husain Shah
  • Showcases Bengal Sultanate architecture
  • Enclosed square with a single dome and ribbed turrets
  • Three mihrabs, central one in black basalt with intricate patterns
  • Served as a religious & strategic center during the Sultanate
  • Expanded in 1705 under Mughal rule

Established in 1519 during Sultan Alauddin Husain Shah’s reign, Goaldi Mosque in Sonargaon, Bengal, reflects the rich history and architectural prowess of the Bengal Sultanate. Built by Mulla Hizabar Akbar Khan, it features an enclosed square architecture with a cubical prayer chamber, circular corner towers, and entrances on all sides except the qibla wall. The mosque’s single dome, ribbed turrets, and relief work on the east facade contribute to its elegant design.

The qibla wall houses three mihrabs, with the central one in black basalt adorned with intricate patterns. The flanking mihrabs feature brick and terra cotta work with lotus motifs. Goaldi Mosque served as a religious center during the Bengal Sultanate, witnessing strategic launches into Assam, Tripura, and Arakan from Sonargaon, reflecting its historical significance as a royal capital.

In 1705, Abdul Hamid added a single-domed structure during Aurangzeb’s reign, highlighting the region’s enduring cultural and architectural significance. To explore this historical gem, take a bus from Dhaka to Sonargaon, specifying Mograpara as the destination. From Mograpara Crossing, a rickshaw to Sonargaon costs a nominal fee of 20 taka, with a journey time of approximately 40 minutes.

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5. Choto Sona Mosque

Choto Sona Mosque

Quick Facts about the Choto Sona Mosque

  • Nickname: “Jewel of Sultanate architecture
  • Meaning of name: “Small Golden Mosque” (due to former gilded domes)
  • Age: Built 1493-1519
  • Location: Pirojpur village, Chapainawabganj, Bangladesh
  • Dimensions: 82′ x 52.5′

The small Sonamasjid is known as the ‘jewel of Sultanate architecture’. Choto sona mosque is locally called as choto sona masjid or small golden mosque. It had a golden coating on the outside, which shone like gold when exposed to sunlight, The fifteen dooms of the mosque including three chau-chala domes in the middle row, once gilded, so derives its name from that fact.

The mosque was built by a man named Wali Mohammad between 1493 to 1519 during the time of Sultan of Bengal Alauddin Husain Shah. It was set up at Pirojpur village on the edges of Gaur, the capital of antiquated Bengal, which presently falls under the Shibganj thana of Chapainawabganj region of Rajshahi division.

The outer side of the mosque is 82 feet long in the north-south and 52.5 feet wide in the east-west. There are four pinnacles in the four corners of the mosque Their land design is octagonal. The towers have step-by-step ring work. The height of the towers is up to the cornice of the roof.

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6. Bagha Mosque

Bagha Mosque

Quick Facts about the Bagha Mosque

  • Built in 1523 by Sultan Nusrat Shah, a Hussain Shahi ruler.
  • Stands on 256 bighas (64 acres) of land.
  • Features 10 domes, 6 interior pillars, and 4 intricately decorated arches.
  • Dimensions: 75 ft long, 42 ft wide, 24.5 ft high, walls 8 ft thick.

For tourist places in Bangladesh, this mosque is one of the attractions in Bangladesh. The mosque was established in 1523 by Ruler Nasiruddin Nusrat Shah, the son of Alauddin Shah, the founder of the Hussain Shahi dynasty. The mosque is situated on 256 bighas of land. The columns and carvings on the north side of the entrance have been destroyed. The mosque has 10 domes, and inside there are 6 pillars. Additionally, the mosque features 4 arches adorned with extraordinary craftsmanship, with a length of 75 feet, width of 42 feet, and a height of 24 feet 6 inches. The walls are 8 feet wide, and the dome is 42 feet in diameter and 12 feet high.

The Chauchala dome is 20 feet in diameter and approximately 30 feet high. A Persian engraving is present on the central doorway. The mosque’s masonry is made of lime-surki, with arches and pillars on both the inside and outside walls. The Bagha Mosque measures 22.92 meters in length, 12.18 meters in width, and 24 feet 6 inches in height, with walls that are 2.22 meters thick.

The mosque boasts a total of 10 arches, 4 minarets (vault-shaped at the top), and 5 doors. It is surrounded by a wall on all sides and has two entrances on either side of the wall. Ceramic designs adorn both the interior and exterior of the mosque. The large lake near the mosque is also a notable landmark.

7. Sura Mosque

Sura Mosque

Quick Facts about the Sura Mosque

  • Location: ChorGasa village, Ghoraghat Upazila, Dinajpur District, Bangladesh
  • Age: Built around 1504 AD, during the Husain Shahi period
  • Materials: Bricks, stones, black sandstone (from Rajmahal Hills)
  • Unique features: High walls (not seen in other Bengali mosques), Terracotta decorations with rosettes, florals, geometrics, Ornate mihrabs with floral, scroll, and geometric designs

The Sura Mosque is a sixteenth-century mosque located in the village of ChorGasa, Ghoraghat Upazila, Dinajpur District, Bangladesh. It is also known as the Surmya Masjid or Shuja Masjid. The mosque is believed to have been built around 1504 AD during the Husain Shahi period.

The mosque is made of bricks and stones, with black sandstone believed to have been brought from the Rajmahal Hills. It stands on a raised mound of earth and is approached from the east by a flight of steps. The mosque has a single dome over one large square prayer chamber and a verandah with three domes.

The prayer chamber is 4.87 meters square and is flanked on the east by a 1.82-meter wide foreroom. The outer dimensions of the mosque are 8.53 meters by 12.50 meters. The kiblah wall (the wall that faces Mecca) contains three semicircular mihrab niches with cusped arches, each set within an ornamented rectangular frame. The central mihrab is the largest of the three and is made of stone.

The Sura Mosque is a unique example of early Bengali mosque architecture. Its high walls, which are now at the level of the plinth, are not seen in any other mosque in Bengal. The mosque’s surface is decorated with terracotta, depicting rosettes, floral patterns, and geometric designs. The mihrabs in the interior are also decorated with floral designs, scroll motifs, and geometric designs.

The Sura Mosque is an important historical and archaeological site in Bangladesh. It is a popular tourist destination and is well worth visiting for anyone interested in Bangladeshi history and culture.

8. Khania Dighi or Rajbibi Mosque

Khaniadighi or Rajbibi Mosque

Quick Facts about the Khania Dighi or Rajbibi Mosque

  • Age: 15th century (estimated)
  • Location: Chapai Nawabganj District, Bangladesh
  • Style: Simple, elegant
  • Layout: Square prayer hall, fore-room, arched openings
  • Key Feature: Central dome resting on squinches and arches
  • Interior: Three mihrab niches with intricate cusps
  • History: Restored by Bangladesh Directorate of Archaeology

The Khania Dighi Mosque, also known locally as the Chamchika or Rajbibi Mosque, is a attractions of Bangladesh. Its origins remain shrouded in some mystery, with no inscription revealing its exact founding date. However, historians estimate its construction sometime between the early Ilyas Shahi period (1437-1487 AD) and the Husayn Shahi period (1493-1533 AD).

The mosque’s name hints at its possible connection to royalty. “Rajbibi” translates to “royal lady,” suggesting it might have been built by a female member of the ruling family during Gaur’s reign as the capital of Bengal (1450-1565 AD).

Standing gracefully on the western bank of the Khania Dighi tank, the mosque exhibits a simple yet elegant architectural style. Its square-shaped prayer hall measures a modest 8.85 meters per side, with a 2.67-meter wide fore-room leading the way. Three arched openings grace the eastern facade, while single arches adorn the sides of the fore-room and the north and south walls of the main hall.

The most striking feature of the Khania Dighi Mosque is its central dome. Rising majestically above the prayer hall, it rests on squinches and arches, creating a harmonious blend of structural stability and aesthetic appeal. Inside, the Qibla wall boasts three mihrab niches, each framed and adorned with multi-foil cusps, adding a touch of intricate artistry to the sacred space.

Sadly, the ravages of time took their toll on the mosque over the centuries. By the 1990s, the outer surface, fore-room, and corner turrets had all succumbed to decay. Fortunately, the Bangladesh Directorate of Archaeology stepped in to restore the mosque to its former glory, ensuring its preservation for future generations.

10. Darasbari Mosque

Darasbari Mosque

Quick Facts about the Darasbari Mosque

  • Location: Shibganj Upazila, Chapainawabganj district, near the Indo-Bangladesh border
  • Construction Year: 1469 AD
  • Builder: Sultan Shams Uddin Yusuf Shah
  • Original Name: Firozpur Mosque
  • Renamed: Darasbari Mosque after the establishment of Darusbari University in 1502 AD by Sultan Hussain Shah
  • Architectural Style: Bengali Sultanate Architecture, blending local influences with the Sultanate style
  • Size: External dimensions 34m by 20.6m, internal dimensions 30.3m by 11.7m

The Darasbari Mosque, located near the Indo-Bangladesh border in Shibganj Upazila of Chapainawabganj district, is an important example of early Muslim architecture in Bengal. It was built in 1469 AD during the rule of Sultan Shams Uddin Yusuf Shah. Originally called Firozpur Mosque, it got its current name when Sultan Hussain Shah established Darusbari University in 1502 AD.

This historic mosque, part of Gaur-Lakhnauti in Bangladesh, is among the top ten mosques in the country. The construction reflects ‘Bengali Sultanate Architecture,’ blending local influences with the Sultanate style. Despite being in ruins, the mosque measures 34m by 20.6m externally and 30.3m by 11.7m internally, featuring brick and stone pillars. The roof, with 24 domes and 4 chauchala vaults, has collapsed.

Despite its condition, the Darasbari Mosque showcases detailed terracotta ornamentation inside and outside. The prayer chamber has eleven mihrabs, some with remnants of a royal gallery. Unique features include a fallen verandah, a royal gallery in the northwest corner, and octagonal towers in the corners.

Built by Sultan Shamsuddin Yusuf Shah, the mosque represents a typical medieval Bengali Jami Masjid with red-tinged exposed bricks. The exterior walls exhibit vertical offset and inset designs with terracotta panels, highlighting Gaur-Lakhnauti decoration. Although the roof and verandah have collapsed, the mosque’s historical and architectural significance endures, contributing to Bangladesh’s rich cultural heritage.

Conclusion

Bangladesh has amazing historical mosques that reflect its rich Islamic heritage. Whether it’s the famous Sixty Dome Mosque or the unique Chunakhola Mosque, each one has a fascinating story to tell. These architectural treasures, constructed during the Sultanate period, exhibit diverse styles and intricate details. They are a must-visit for anyone eager to explore Bangladesh’s vibrant history.

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