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Barobazar


Barobazar Situated on the north bank of the moribund river Bhairab. The archaeological ruins of Barobazar lie in Kaliganj upazila under the district of Jhinaidah. It is 16 km north of Jessore district town' and 12 km south of Kaliganj Bazar. Khulna-Parvatipur railway and Jessore-Jhinaidah highway run parallel through Barobazar market.

There are a few traditions about the origin of the name 'Barobazar'. One of them goes that a group of twelve saints headed by Khan Al Azam Ulugh Khan Jahan stayed here for some times on his way to Bagerhat. Hence the name of the place is Barobazar. It is also said that Khan Jahan dug a large number of tanks (dighis) and constructed equal number of mosques on the bank of each tank. The other tradition narrates that there were twelve prosperous villages or markets (bazars) namely Enaetpur, Abdalpur, Daulaptur, Rahmatpur, Samaspur, Muradgarh, Haibatpur, Nischintapur, Sayedpur, Ganimatpur, Belat and Shahbajpur in this area and hence the name of the locality is Barobazar (Baro- twelve and bazar -market). It is also reported that this name was derived from the names of twelve saints. But there is no authentic document that the mantioned saints were Ulugh Khan Jahan's associates or followers. But at present Barobazar represents a flourishing business centre.

Terracotta design, Jorbangla Mosque, Barobazar

There are numerous ancient tanks and cultural mounds lying scattered in and around Barobazar within a radius of about 3 to 4 km. They are concentrated on the north bank of the river and to the west of the present highway. Of the ruins' only Gorar Mosque, situated in the village Belat Daulatpur, was surviving in a poor state of preservation. Others were very badly damaged. Department of Archaeology explored the area and discovered 14 mounds in this locality. But no attempt was made to protect them except two, namely; Gorar Mosque and Satgachia Gayebana Mosque in 1989. The latter was' partly exposed by the local people and was being used for prayer. In 1989 Department of Archaeology carried out excavation in the remaining portion of the site Satgachya and exposed the remains of a 35 domed mosque. In 1992-93 the author re-surveyed the area and recommended for immediate protection. Accordingly these sites were declared as protected monuments by the Govt. and a scheme of regular archaeological excavation had also been undertook in order to unearth the cultural wealth and to reconstruct the history of the area. In the year Jorbangla, Galakata and Kharer Dighi were brought under spade operation. As a result the' structural remains of the sites had been exposed. These include mosque, cemetery, port and secular building.

Jorbangla Mosque The mound Jorbangla is in the village Belat Daulatpur. It is 1 km west of Barobazar Bus station. To the north of the mound there is a large' tank locally called Jorbangla dighi. Barobazar-Hashimpur metalled road runs in between the mound and the tank.

The excavation yielded the architectural remains of a single domed mosque of Sultanate period. The square mosque (prayer chamber) measures externally 9.44 x 9.44 m. Walls of the monument are 1.42m wide. The mosque is provided with four' octagonal corner turrets. The western wall has three mihrabs. The multifold arched mihrabs are richly decorated with floral and geometric designs. In parallel with the western wall there are three arched doorways in the eastern wall. There was a clear evidence that a large niche was accommodated in each side wall instead of window. Verandah was provided around the prayer chamber. There were five graves in the southern verandah. The dead bodies were buried here in later period by cutting the original floor of the verandah. A gateway was accommodated in the northern guard wall at its eastern side. Only base of the gateway survives. There was a staircase in front of the gateway. A 1 miter wide pathway was encountered in front of the gateway which leads to the ghat of the water tank.

Brick Inscription Amongst the large number of antiquities the most important were a few brick fragments containing Arabic inscription. So far seven pieces had been recovered. Of them one had found in a complete shape, and others are broken. Since all the pieces could not be found, we could not have its full text. However, Qadir translated the text. It contained a Hadith about building a mosque and its consequences. Mosque has been constructed during the reign of Ghiyathu'd Din Abu'l Muzaffar Mahmud Shah Sultan, son of Husain Shah Sultan.

Galakata mound' is approximately 100m east-north-east of Jorbangla mound. Barabazar-Hashimpur metalled road is to the south of the mound and to the north is Galakata dighi, one of the largest tanks in the area. The rectangular low mound roughly measures 18 x 12m. Its uneven top is 2.5m high from the surrounding area.

Excavation (February-April 1993) at the site uncovered the structural remains of a six domed mosque. The rectangular building measures externally 11.96 x 8.57m and internally 9.30 x 5.91m. The walls are 1.33m thick. The monument is adorned with 4 octagonal corner turrets which are decorated with horizontal bands and moulded offsets at regular intervals.

The mosque contains three mihrabs in its western wall. All the mihrabs are profusely decorated with ornamental bricks. The mosque has two windows in each of the northern and southern walls. There are three arched doorways in the eastern wall. There are two polygonal stone pillars inside the mosque at a distance of 2.98m. Domes were rest over these pillars and the walls. In front of the prayer chamber there is a verandah which might have been constructed and reconstructed at three different phases. A brick-built ghat was exposed in a restricted area in the water tank, locally known as Galakata dighi. This ghat is about 30m north-west of the mosque.

Kharer Dighi Mosque The mound is close to Barobazar Bus station. The mound is in the middle of the southern bank of Kharer dighi or Matarani dighi. This dighi is the largest water tank in this area.

Excavation in 1993, revealed the structural remains of a cemetery covering an area of 16m ' 18m. Remains were found there, are; fourteen brick built, one brick and stone built and eight unmetalled graves. Graves of the southern row are in a very bad state of preservation. Only their basal parts survive.

Graves in the middle and northern rows were in a better state of preservation. Most of the graves in this row are covered with corbelled roofs whereas at least two in the northern row were covered by vaulted roofs. It is worth mentioned that the length of the graves in a particular row was same (3.70 m) but their breadth varied from 3m to 3.70m.

In most of the exposed graves the skeletons were found in extended position with their arms placed parallel to the bodies. In one grave only skull and four long bones were kept together. Perhaps this grave was disturbed and the existing bones were reburied.

One grave in the northern row was built with stone (at the base) and brick (upper portion). It is worth quoting that the inner face of the stone as well as brick wall of the grave was coated with lime and sand

Pirpukur Mosque a rectangular mound, is situated in village Belat Daulatpur. It stands to the west of Pirpukur Dighi. Excavation in 1994 revealed the ruins of a fifteen domed mosque measuring internally 18.40m N-S x 10.85m E-W. All the domes disappeared and only the walls survived up to certain height. The mosque has ornate octagonal turrets at its four corners. The towers have horizontal bands at regular intervals.

The fa'ade of the mosque consists of a row of five arched doorways. In the western wall there are three semi-circular recessed mihrabs in the interior instead of five. Each of the northern and southern walls contains three reticulated (Jali) windows. In all there are eight free standing pillars in the interior and twelve pilasters engaged on the walls of the mosque. The brick pillars are square (75cm x 75cm) and corners are chamfered. Those eight pillars and twelve pilasters indicate that there were fifteen domes on the roof of the mosque.

In the north-west quarter one appears to be a member. There are nine steps in the structure and an arched opening. The second one is a royal gallery. This was built in the north-west corner of the mosque.

A brick-built ghat was built on the middle of the western bank of Pirpukur which is about 20m north-east of the mosque. It was built brick on edge. Among the antiquities ornamental bricks, earthen pots saucers, terracotta balls and toys and glazed potsherds are worth noted.

Noongola Mosque' The site of Noongola mound is situated in Hasilbag village in' Barobazar union. It lies about 200 m south-east of the Pirpukur mound. To the east of the mound there is a large oblong tank known as Noongola Dighi. The excavation in 1994 unveiled the ruins of a single domed square mosque measuring internally 6.80 m each side and externally 9.18m.

The dome of the mosque has totally disappeared and at present only the walls survive up to certain height. In the qibla wall there are three semi-circular mihrabs. The mihrabs are decorated with floral motifs. There are eight pilasters engaged on the walls. Each pilaster is 46 cm wide and decorated with horizontal bands. Merlons are noticed in their bases. There is an open verandah around the prayer chamber. Antiquities recovered from the site include ornamental bricks, crowries, earthen pots, saucers, terracotta beads and toys.

Monahar Mosque The oblong mound is situated in Sadikpur Mouza. It lays 150m south of the Galakata Mound. It measures 30m N-S x 25m E-W.

The excavation (March- April 1994) revealed the remains of an oblong mosque measuring externally 26.9 m N-S and 19.40m E-W. The building has 24 free standing square brick pillars. The gap between one pillar to the other on an average is 2.65m. Due to heavily ransack of the building the walls do not survive above the ground level. So the existence of pilasters could not be ascertained. The base of the walls along with its corner turrets and mihrab were traced in a lower level. However, it can be presumed that the mosque was roofed over by 35 domes. As many as four platforms were built on the mosque. Of them two still survive while the rest are badly damaged and only their trace is visible

Inside the mosque there is a screen wall which separates the four bays of the corner. It could be a royal gallery (Badshah ka Takht). Beside this, a room was built outside the mosque at its north-west corner. It appears that the room was constructed simultaneously along with the construction of the mosque. There is a 2.05m wide opening on the western wall. Could it be assumed that this room was used as living room for Imam' and/or other teacher(s). Lime and sand were used as mortar in constructing the brick walls. Pieces of shells are still traceable in the walls.

Pathagar Mosque Pathagar dhibi, an small and low mound, is located in Mithapukur Mauza. It is 200m north of the Barobazar-Hashimpur Road and on the western bank of a tank locally known as Pathagar dighi.. The oblong mound roughly measures 15m N-S and 12m E-W. Excavation in April 1995 unearthed the structural remains of a square mosque which measures 6.9 x 6.9m externally. The walls are 1.38 m thick. Its upper part was' damaged heavily. The ruins survive up to the height of 2.10 mm. Turrets are decorated with horizontal bands of ornamental bricks.

The building has an arched doorway on the east and two reticulated windows one each on the north and south sides. The doorway and the windows are bordered by rectangular frames having geometric designs. The windows survive up to 50 cm above the floor level. The qibla wall has one mihrab in the centre and two blind mihrabs on its either side. All mihrabs are bordered by rectangular frames and are decorated with terracotta.

The windows contain vertical panels. The panels are decorated with ornamental bricks. A well built floor was exposed inside the monument. The floor is built by a single course of bricks top of which is lime terraced.

The excavation also yielded ornamental bricks, terracotta balls, beads, toys, earthenwares and shreds.

Sukur Mallik Mosque The site is situated in Hasilbag mouza. It is about 300m south of Barobazar.. The conical mound roughly measures 12m x 10m. Its crest is about 3m high from the surrounding agricultural land.

Excavation carried out in 1996 has exposed the ruins of a single domed mosque measuring 6m ' 6m externally with 1.12m thick wall. The dome was collapsed and the walls survived up to certain height. It has four octagonal corner turrets which survive up to certain height. The building has one doorway on the east. The qibla wall has one semi-circular mihrab with one blind mihrab on its either side. The central mihrab is projected in the exterior and it is 1.50m wide and 49 cm deep.

A well-built floor was exposed inside the mosque. It was built by single course of bricks with lime terracing at the top. The excavation has also revealed ornamental bricks earthen pots, oil lamps, terracotta balls, beads and toys. Ornamental bricks represent various types of floral and geometric designs.

Ghoper Dhibi Situated on the right bank of the Bhairab. The small and low mound lies in the village Gourimathpur of Barobazar Union. This is the one of the few sites on the other side of the river. The mound roughly measures 20 m x 20 m. A very short excavation in April 1995 has unearthed the ruins of a cemetery externally measuring 12.85m E-W x 13m N-S. It had walls on its three sides, west, north and south. It indicates either the entire wall on the east had been removed by brick hunters or the builders kept the eastern side open. But the first assumption seems to be more rational as because for sanctity of the cemetery the builders must have made enclosure in all sides. The central part of the west wall is projected on the exterior. Probably this was made for indication of qibla. There are two types of graves, metalled and unmetalled. In all there are six brick-built graves covering. Skeletal remains have been exposed in only one grave. To the east of these graves a brick-built platform was exposed. In unmetalled graves no complete skeleton was traced.

Satgachiya Gabeyena Mosque The site is situated in village Satgachiya. It stands 6 km west of Barobazar and is 200m north of the Barobazar-Hashimpur Road. There is an unpaved road on the west of it and a square tank called 'Adina Pukur' on this side. The mosque is also called Adina Jame Masjid'. which indicates this was a Friday congregational mosque. The mound measures 40 m N-S 30 m E-W. It was covered in dense Jungle of trees, herbs and shrubs. Excavation in March- April 1990 had been unearthed the architectural remains of a 35 domed rectangular mosque measuring 24.25 m N-S x 18.55 m E-W. It has 7 doorways on the east, 5 doorways on the south, 3 doorways on the north and 1 doorway (closed) on the west side. There are 24 pillars in the interior of the mosque. The pillars are of various sizes. These are chamfered and tapering upwards to a certain height and nearly square. There were 35 domes at the top of the arches set on these pillars and pilasters.

Qibla wall accommodates 7 semi-circular mihrabs. The decoration of the mihrabs are not same. Lime and sand were used as mortar and plaster in the mosque. Original plaster is seen in many places.

More than 5 hundred ornamental bricks containing various types of floral and leafage decoration, petals, pillars and small trees, dentils and diapers were discovered. A good number of potsherds were recovered. Some of them were glazed.

Jahajghata The site is situated on the' northern' bank of the river Bhairab in the village Hasil Bag. Excavation carried out here exposed the ruins of an oblong structure. The structure is not uniform in shape. The structure can be divided in to two sections, western and eastern. The eastern section is an open yard or platform and the western one appears to be a room from the existence of four walls only up to the floor level. The platform has a brick paved floor. According the remains on the bank of the river it can be hypothesized that this was a port of the city Muhammadabad.

Namajgaon The site is located in the village Belat Daulatpur. It is 50m south of the unmetalled village road and is 1 km north of Galakata Mosque. The oblong mound is 48m N-S and 41m E-W and the highest point is 2m high from the surrounding level. On its eastern side villagers made an Eidgah. Hence the name Namajgaon was derived.

Excavation in 1987 exposed the remains of a cemetery, which encompasses 8 brick built graves. Of them two pairs of graves were built on two platforms while each of the rest four were built over single platforms. The first pair of graves (Grave No. 1 and 2), were built in the center of a large platform in the middle of the cemetery' along its western side. Platform contains two octagonal corner turrets in the west wall.

The second pair of graves (Grave No. 6 and 7) stand on the north-east of the grave No. 5. The platform is 4.66 m E-W and 3.10 m N-S at its base and' 80 cm high. Above this platform two graves probably of a couple (?) were laid down. Both the graves were built in equal dimension ie, 2.14m N-S and 1.60m E-W with a horizontal gap of 50 cm between them. Both the graves' have two steps only. Each step' is 37 cm high and 25m wide.

The single graves (Grave No. 3, 4, 5 and 8) were built without platform and each of the have four steps.

Bade Dihi The site is situated in the village Bade Dihi. It is 800m east of Barobazar Bus station and 100 m from Barobazar-Kola-Mongalpaite Road. Bade Dihi tank is very close on its south.

Excavation at the site in 2001 unearthed the remains of a cemetery covering an area of 36 x 24m. The cemetery encompasses 16 brick built, 1 earthen graves and an open brick paved yard. The brick built graves are of two types, one is with vaulted roof and other is with corbelled roof. The first group includes 11 graves and the second group includes 5 graves.

It appears that the graves were laid down in an unplanned way unlike Kharer Dighi and Namajgaon cemeteries. It is observed that in the middle of the complex two graves were built over a raised platform consisting of two steps. These graves might be of the important persons or couple. To the east of these graves there are three graves built over a platform. To the further east of these graves there is another group of graves' enclosed by an enclosure wall which is separated again by' an E-W wall. In total there are five graves. To' the further south there exists another grave built over a platform. All these graves are with vaulted roof. In the northern side of the complex there are five graves' laid irregularly. All of them are with corbelled roofs. The brick paved yard in the south- western side of the complex cover an area of 18 x 18m which is enclosed by' wall. Its purpose is yet to be ascertained.

Unexcavated/unprotected Sites Apart from the excavated sites there are still many' sites which need to protect and excavate. During my further exploration in 2009 a number of new sites have come to light in addition to a few known ones. These sites include Badar Darga, Choto Pukur Par, Bhai-Boner-Dhibi, Shah Sekendarer Dhibi, Nalamari Dhibi, Sawdagar Dhibi, Chaul Dhoa Dhibi, Khonkar Dhibi, Gobparar Dhibi, Arparar Dhibi, Saratala Dhibi, Ghughudar Dhibi, Kutirdari Dhibi, Bhaiboner Dhibi, Charagdani Mosque and so on. [Shafiqul Alam]