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Mahmud Khan’s Mosque


Mahmud Khan's Mosque stands on the top of a mound at Zolapara in the Pahartali locality of Chittagong city. The mosque has undergone a series of extension and repair works by the local people, which caused the disappearance of many of its original features.

Emphasised with octagonal towers on the four exterior angles, this brick built mosque is oblong in plan having an internal dimension of 7.47m x 4.19m. The corner towers rise above the horizontal parapet ending in cupolas with kalasa finials. Access to the mosque is provided through arched doorways- three in the east and one each on north and south sides. The three eastern doorways, each opening under a half-dome, consist of two successive arches - the outer one higher and wider than the inner one. The qibla wall is internally recessed with three mihrabs - the central one semi-octagonal and the side ones rectangular. The central doorway and the central mihrab are bigger than the flanking ones and show the usual rectangular projections on the outside, bordered by slender octagonal turrets, which rise above the parapet terminating in cupolas with kalasa finials. Of the three bays in the inside the large central square one is covered with a large dome. The flanking rectangular bays are internally covered with large half-domed vaults, but on the outside there is a small false dome on each half-dome. The central dome is carried on these two half-domed vaults and the blocked arches over the central doorway and central mihrab. It thus appears from the outside that the roof of the mosque consists of three domes - a large central dome and a small one on each side, but in the inside the large central dome is flanked on either side by a half-domed vault. The three domes, each being placed on an octagonal drum, are crowned with lotus and kalasa finials.

The parapets and the drums are faced with rows of blind merlons. The apex of the central dome is internally embossed with a prominent tiered rosette. The walls are internally and externally plastered over with a thin coating of lime work.

A Persian inscription fixed over the central doorway of the mosque records its construction by Mahmud Khan. Unfortunately however the date of erection has been obliterated. It is locally said that Diwan Mahmud Khan, a subordinate officer of Muzaffar Khan, the Mughal ruler of Chittagong, erected this mosque in 1688. There may be some truth in this local tradition, for the building, both in plan and constructional details, appears to be a copy of the nearby Hamza Khan's Mosque (1682). [MA Bari]