Bagh-i-Hamza Mosque

Bagh-i-Hamza Mosque situated in the locality of 'Bagh-i-Hamza' in the northern quarter of the city of Chittagong, the mosque has been thoroughly restored and enlarged on the northern and eastern sides, and now wears a modern look.

Built entirely of brick the original mosque is oblong in plan. The four exterior angles are strengthened by octagonal towers, which rise above the parapets and terminate in solid kiosks and cupolas. These cupolas, being encircled at their bases by a row of curved petals, are crowned with kalasa finials. There are three arched doorways in the east and one each on the north and south sides; all have now been remodelled. Corresponding to the three eastern doorways there are three renovated semi-octagonal mihrabs inside the qibla wall. The central mihrab and the central doorway have traditional outward projections with bordering ornamental turrets. These turrets are also extended beyond the roof and topped over with small cupolas and kalasa finials.

The interior of the mosque is marked with three bays. The central bay is large and square (4.57m a side) while the side ones is small rectangles (4.57m by 1.52m). Each of the side bays is internally covered with a half-domed vault. Above this vault is again placed a small false dome on an octagonal drum, the dome being slightly constricted at the neck and viewed only from outside. The central bay is roofed over with a large dome on an octagonal drum. The phase of transition is achieved by means of triangular pendentives on the upper angles just below the drum of the dome. The mosque, viewed from the outside, has three domes, but on the inside a central dome with flanking half-domed vaults. All these domes are crowned with lotus and kalasa finials. The parapets and cornices of the building are straight in the usual Mughal fashion.

Save the blind merlons in the parapet and the lotus finials above the domes, the mosque is now completely devoid of its original ornamentation. The entire building is now plastered with cement and washed white with lime.

A Persian inscription tablet, still fixed over the central doorway, records that one Sayyid Shamshir constructed it in 1682 AD during the reign of Emperor aurangzeb. But the building is commonly known as the mosque of Hamza Khan, son of Sayyid Shamshir. Even the locality, where the mosque is located, is also named Bagh-i-Hamza after Hamza Khan. It is possible that Hamza Khan had built this mosque in honour of his father, and then had the name of his father Sayyid Shamshir inscribed, omitting his own name. This is exactly what we notice in the case of the andar qila mosque, also in Chittagong. The Andar Qila mosque was actually built by buzurg umed khan, the conqueror of Chittagong. But the inscription in the mosque records its construction by shaista khan, father of Buzurg Umed Khan.

In plan and other details the Bagh-i-Hamza mosque compares well with the Andar Qila Mosque, but differs in one important aspect. Unlike the cross vaults of the Andar Qila mosque, half-domed vaults have here been used to cover the side rectangular bays. The half-domed vault of the present building is not a new feature and started appearing in Bengal architecture in the first half of the 17th century. [MA Bari]