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Gorai Mosque


Gorai Mosque located at Gorai under Nikli upazila in the district of kishoreganj. It is about six km due south of the upazila headquarters and about 35 km east of egarasindhur. The mosque was built on a high artificial earthen mound, since this is a low-lying area beside a tributary of the old Brahamaputra. The local people carried out a series of repairs and added pillared masonry veranda in front and a new minaret in the northwest corner of the mosque.

It is a brick built square structure with four octagonal corner towers rising high above the horizontal parapet and terminating in solid kiosks and cupolas with kalasa finials. The eastern facade is pierced with three arched openings, while there is one each on the north and south sides. The western wall contains three semi-circular mihrabs, the central one being bigger, with an additional cusped arch in its outer face. The mosque has four slightly projected axial frontons, which correspond to the central archway on the east, the central mihrab and the two side doorways. All these projections are bordered by slender turrets, which are carried beyond the horizontal parapet.

The single dome on an octagonal drum, which covers the entire square prayer chamber of the mosque, is crowned with a lotus and kalasa finial, now renovated. The blocked arches and squinches, supported on semi-octagonal brick pilasters, carry the weight of the dome above. The triangular spaces, formed by the intersection of blocked arches and squinches, are filled with beautiful Bengali pendentives.

The mosque was originally embellished with stucco and terracotta ornamentation; the latter still survives in a decaying form in the mihrabs and the central archway. Moulded bands divide the four octagonal corner towers, while the kiosks above are marked with four-centred arched motifs on their facets. The parapet and the drum of the dome are faced with rows of blind merlons. The outer surface of the four walls is minutely embellished with square and rectangular stucco panels, executed by the horizontally and vertically placed plastered bands. In the eastern facade the multi-cusped arch of the central doorway is decorated at its apex with a large tiered rosette, which is flanked to right and left by comparatively smaller rosettes in terracotta. The vertical sides of the rectangular frame of the central doorway still retain decorated terracotta plaques. The apex of the side mihrab arches is ornamented with kalasa designs, while their spandrels are decorated with tiered rosettes. The rectangular frame of the central mihrab is adorned with running floral scrolls, now painted white and green. Five horizontal bands divide the surface of the central mihrab niche. Spaces between these bands, though now blank, must have been originally enlivened with terracotta art.

At the springing point of the blocked arches and squinches there is horizontal bands running all round the interior of the mosque. Underneath this band is a floral design in stucco. Inside, the base of the dome is marked with a moulded band and the apex of the dome is decorated with a large tiered rosette in the centre of a medallion.

This Mughal building illustrates a happy blend of Mughal plaster design with local terracotta art. With the exception of its terracotta ornamentation, the Gorai Mosque appears to be a copy of the allakuri mosque (c 1680) at Dhaka and as such it can be dated sometime around 1680 AD. [MA Bari]