According to petwithsupplies.com, Bagherhat is located at the confluence of the Ganges and the Brahmaputra and was founded in the 15th century by the Ottoman general Khanjan Ali under the name of Khalifatabad. On an area of 17,000 km² there are still around 50 preserved buildings and cemetery complexes as well as water reservoirs and mausoleums.
Bagherhat Mosque City: Facts
|Official title:||Historical mosque city of Bagherhat|
|Cultural monument:||formerly Khalifatabad, founded by the Turkish warrior saint Ulugh Khan-i Dschahan at the confluence of the Ganges and Brahmaputra, in the 19th century referred to as the “Garden of Eden” by the English historian Thomas Macaulay; probably a city with 360 mosques; Among the more than 50 preserved structures are the Shait Gumbad Mosque, built on an area of more than 17,000 m², the single-dome mosques Bibi-Begni, Chunakhola and Singa, next to the water reservoir of Lake Thakur, the mausoleum with the sarcophagus of the warrior saint Khan-i Dschahan and the Ronvijoypur mosque with a dome over 11 m wide|
|Location:||on the edge and in the vicinity of modern Bagherhat, south of Dhaka|
|Meaning:||a brick-built mosque town as stone evidence of the high school of Islamic architecture|
Bagherhat Mosque City: History
|1450||Construction of the Shait Gumbad Mosque|
|1459||Construction of the Mazhar (mausoleum) of Ulugh Khan-i Jahan|
|25.10.1459||Death of Ulugh Khan-i Dschahan|
The city of a warrior saint
Hidden in the impenetrable mangrove forests, the Sundarbans, between wide, intersecting rivers lie the extensive ruins of a once prosperous city founded by a Turkish warrior of unknown origin named Ulugh Khan-i Dschahan in the early 15th century. It was built to the west of the modern city of Bagherhat – “home of the tigers” – along the now dead arm of the Bhairab River as the core of his empire and, under the name of Khalifatabad, served as a mint for the independent sultans of Bengal.
Khan-i Jahan, this sincere and pious warrior, the chief saint of the Sundarbans, was undoubtedly the earliest advocate of Islam in this region. But where did this historically obscure “founder of the empire” come from? Was he sent here from Delhi on the official order of the imperial court to establish a Muslim colony, or was he banished from the empire? These questions are a great puzzler, but what is certain is that he ruled over the surrounding swamp and marshland from his remote jungle fortress. However, he was subordinate to the Sultans of Bengal in Gaur, which is indicated by the lack of a royal salutation and own coins.
Obviously, the “ruler of the swamps” must have been particularly enthusiastic about sacred architecture, since – according to legend – he had his territory adorned with 360 mosques and also with numerous palaces, mausoleums, streets, bridges and vital water reservoirs, which often after were named to his generals. Along the main street of Bagherhat are the still preserved, partly badly dilapidated monuments, partly hidden between lush palm groves or, like the Chunakhola Mosque, in the open field.
In order to consolidate his fame and to prove his piety, Khan-i Dschahan had the largest and most impressive brick mosque in Bengal, the Shait Gumbad Mosque – “sixty-domed mosque” (now mostly “sixty-pillar mosque”) – built. This building clearly shows the Ottoman preference for a multitude of domes, for multiple mihrabs, niches facing Mecca, and the four pointed, bastion-like corner towers. Although the mosque is based on the building tradition of imperial Delhi, it also combines these with local elements such as a pronounced ornamentation with terracotta and the four-sided domes.
Despite the eleven arched entrances in the east and seven each in the south and north, the interior of the mosque with its ten mihrabs is surprisingly quite dark. Divided into seven transepts and eleven longitudinal aisles by a forest of narrow pillars, there are 77 domes – not 60, as the name of the mosque suggests.
Shortly before his death in October 1459, his mausoleum was built on the shores of Lake Thakur, to which Khan-i Dschahan had retired as a hermit. Only in this impressive, square brick building are the original domes still preserved on the four corner towers. The black stone tomb is surrounded by ornate suras from the Koran and colored tiles. As in most mausoleums, the crypt is located in the basement, the walls of which are covered with historically valuable inscriptions.
Even if partially decayed, in the middle of the ever-advancing jungle stand the silent witnesses of the glorious era of the warrior saint, whose heartfelt piety still attracts streams of pilgrims today.