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Khalifatabad


Khalifatabad is identified with the modern town of Bagerhat on the bank of the river Bhairab. The area of Khalifatabad was first brought under the Muslims by a ruler (muqta) titled khan jahan (d 1459 AD) in the reign of the later Iliyas Shahi Sultan nasiruddin mahmud shah (1436-1459 AD). The town first emerged as a mint-town in 922 AH / 1516 AD during the administration of Nasiruddin nusrat shah (1519-1532) and it retained this status till the reign of ghiyasuddin mahmud shah (1532-1538). The town was renamed Khalifatabad-Badarpur in 1535 AD by Sultan Ghiyasuddin Mahmud Shah who added the word Badarpur after his honourific Abd-al-Badar. The town has also been mentioned as Cuipata-vaz, a corruption of Khalifatabad, in the Dutch-Portuguese maps of De Barros, Blaiv and Van den Broucke drawn during the sixteenth century. The country round about modern Bagerhat was known up to the end of the eighteenth century by the name of Haweli Khalifatabad or 'the vicegerent's abode', a name given to it in Abul Fazl's ain-i-akbari.

The town and its suburb contain some historic sites and monuments. The famous shatgumbad mosque, (sixty domed mosque) built by Khan Jahan, is situated about four miles to the west of Bagerhat. A dighi (tank), popularly called Ghora Dighi, with an area of about one hundred acres near the mosque, was excavated by order of the said ruler. About 4.5 km from Bagerhat town and 1km from the main road to the Shat Gumbad mosque stands the tomb of Khan Jahan, situated on the bank of a still bigger tank called the Thakur Dighi with an area of about one hundred eighty acres. The remains of various buildings and metalled roads of Khalifatabad are of considerable archeological interest and they tend to suggest that the town was once vast and prosperous. It was a mint-town as well as an administrative headquarters founded in a planned way in an area full of swamps and marshes.

An annual mela (fair) is held on the ground near the tomb of Khan Jahan on the supposed anniversary of his death on the full moon of Chaitra (March-April). On this occasion both Hindus and Muslims assemble in large numbers.

Bagerhat was made a 'C' grade municipality in 1863. Now it is a district headquarters and the municipality has been upgraded to and 'A' grade one. It is a center of trade in rice, betel-leaf, betel nut, coconut etc. [Md Akhtaruzzaman]