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Kishnanagar Mosque


Kishnanagar Mosque a multi-domed historic mosque in south Bengal located on the right-hand side of the Bagerhat-Shatgumbad road in the village of Kishnanagar, Bagerhat. Many of its original features have disappeared due to later repair works executed by local people.

The mosque, inclusive of the octagonal towers on the exterior angles, measures 23.47m from north to south and 19.20m from east to west. The 1.83m thick walls are pierced with two-centred pointed archways - five in the eastern facade and two each on the north and south sides. The central archway in the east is slightly larger than the flanking ones. Inside the mosque, the western wall accommodates five arched mihrabs exactly in alignment with the five doorways in the east wall. The central mihrab, projected on the outside, is bigger than the side ones. The entrance openings are now provided with collapsible iron grilles, but the two on the north wall have been bricked up.

The building is internally divided into two longitudinal aisles and two bays by a row of four excessively short twelve-sided brick pillars. The interior of the mosque thus shows ten independent square units, each covered with a low dome. These domes, ten in all, are supported on intersecting arches in combination with the usual Bengali pendentives.

The decorations on the mosque, consisting only of terracotta, are now confined to the mihrabs and the exterior surface of the north and qibla walls, while the remaining portions of the building are covered with modern cement plaster. All the mihrabs are arched, with engrailing on their faces. The southernmost mihrab arch shows rosettes at its spandrels, while all the mihrab niches depict stylized hanging designs. The rectangular borders enclosing the mihrabs are now completely plain, but topped by a series of crests, an ornamental motif very commonly noticed in Bengal monuments. The vertically drawn sunken panels on the exterior faces of the qibla and north walls have at their bases a pair of boldly projected bands depicting lozenge patterns, while the spaces in between are ornamented with floral scrolls. The brick setting of delicate carved patterns in high relief form the pendentives below the domes.

The date of the mosque is not known. But the surviving architectural features of the mosque-the octagonal shape of the corner towers, the interior arrangement and the twelve facets of the pillars reveal its close affinity with the nearby six-domed mosque of the later Ilyas Shahi or Husain Shahi period. Local tradition ascribes the building to the Husain Shahi period, which is corroborated by the existing features. [MA Bari]