Kamalapur Mosque, Barisal

Kamalapur Mosque, Barisal is an oblong three-domed Mughal mosque in the village of Kamalapur in Gaurnadi upazila of Barisal district. The building was in utter ruins. In the late 1960's a considerable portion of it was thoroughly repaired. In 1975 the Department of Archaeology, Bangladesh took it under its protection and undertook necessary repairs.

Kamalapur Mosque, Barisal

This brick built mosque, erected on a low platform, is oblong in plan, with an outside dimension of 17.22m by 8.08m. The walls are 1.83m thick and are pierced with multi-cusped arched doorways - three on the east and one each on the north and south sides.

The central doorway, which is given prominence by a slight projection bounded by octagonal turrets, is larger than the remaining ones. The qibla wall accommodates three semi-octagonal mihrabs, of which the central one shows an outward projection with bordering octagonal turrets. The octagonal corner towers, which now rise only up to the horizontal parapet level, must have originally gone beyond the roof to be topped by kiosks with cupolas, which is a distinguishing feature of the Mughal architecture of Bengal.

The interior of the mosque is divided into three bays by two massive lateral arches springing from engaged brick pillars. Over the roof are three slightly bulbous domes on octagonal drums, of which the central dome is larger than its flanking counterparts. Domes are crowned with lotus and kalasa finials and supported below by the same systems as in the lalbagh fort mosque at Dhaka.

The decorations on the mosque are mainly of terracotta of the Sultanate type. The exterior surface of the central archway is richly embellished and the spandrels of the arch show curly scrolls enclosing large full-blown lozenge-bordered rosettes, while at the key point is noticed a kalasa motif. The enclosing rectangular frame of the archway is also filled with terracotta plaques depicting varieties of motifs such as floral scrolls, rosettes and net patterns. The remaining part of the facade is marked with panels. The mihrabs are now plain excepting that their semi-octagonal apertures depict in their upper parts a slightly projected band topped by a frieze of blind merlons. The cuspings of the mihrab arches are unique.

The inscription tablet fixed over the central doorway is now missing. Local tradition, however, ascribes it to one Masum Khan. On stylistic grounds a late 17th century date may be suggested for the building. [MA Bari]