Sixty-domed Mosque – a carrier of history
The sixty-domed mosque is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Bagerhat District of Khulna Division, Bangladesh. It is one of the largest mosques of the Sultanate period. Hazrat Khan Jahan (RA) founded this mosque three miles west of the present Bagerhat town.
History of the Sixty-domed Mosque
In the mid-fifteenth century, a saint named Hazrat Khan Jahan (RA) founded a Muslim colony in the mangrove forests of the Sundarbans on the coast of the Bagerhat district. He preached about Sadhu Sangha in a prosperous city during the reign of Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud Shah. Hazrat Khan Jahan (RA) had decorated the region with more than a dozen mosques. He started the construction of this mosque, then known as Shai-Gumbad Masjid, in 1442 and completed it in 1499.
The infrastructure of the Sixty-domed Mosque
The mosque is about 160 feet long from north to south and about 104 feet from east to west. On the inside, it is about 143 feet long in the north-south direction and about 88 feet in the east-west direction. The walls of the mosque are about 8.5 feet thick. The eastern side of the mosque has 11 large arched doors. The middle one is the largest of the others. There are also 7 and 14 doors on the north and south walls.
There are four round minarets at the four corners of the mosque. A round dome tops each minaret. The minarets are slightly higher than the roof cornice. One of the two minarets in front of the mosque is called Roshan Kotha, and the other is called Andhar Kotha. Inside the minaret, there is a stairwell. Earlier, there was a system to give adhan from this minaret.
There are a total of sixty columns or pillars inside the mosque. The pillars are arranged in a total of 10 in 6 rows from north to south. Each pillar is made of stone, but five pillars are covered with bricks. Domes are built on the roof around the pillars. The sixty-domed mosque has a total of 77 domes in 11 rows. And the total number of domes, including the four domes on the minaret, is 81. Except for the seven domes in the middle row of the mosque’s mihrab, the rest of the 74 domes are hemispherical.
There are Ten mihrabs on the western wall of the mosque. The central mihrab is large and elaborate. There are five mihrabs on the south side and four on the north side. On the north side, there is one small door in place of one mihrab. According to many, Hazrat Khan Jahan (RA) used this mosque as a courthouse. This door was his entrance.
Everything you can see on the mosque premises
Hazrat Khan Jahan (RA) dug many ponds in the Bagerhat area. Ghora Dighi is one of them. This huge reservoir is located on the west side of the sixty-domed mosque. Khan Jahan conquered this region and spread Islam here. Then there was a severe shortage of drinking water in the region. To solve this problem, he dug a huge water tank near the mosque. Since then, Ghora Dighi has become a free source of drinking water for the inhabitants of the region. According to legend, Khan Jahan measured the tank on horseback. This is how the tank got its name.
Other sources say that horse races used to take place here and many horses were tethered to the banks of this tank. Because of this, people started calling it Ghora Dighi. There are many crocodiles in the pond, and even if you touch them, they can never harm you. Many people bring offerings daily to fulfill their wishes.
The government built it in 1995 with the help of UNESCO funds to preserve Hazrat Khan Jahan (RA) and preserve the Muslim culture and architecture of the region. The Authority built this museum in the southeast corner of the sixty-domed mosque. The museum displays all the artifacts collected from the entire Bagerhat region. It has three galleries that display many plaques of Islamic culture and ancient times. To understand the time of Khan Jahan, the museum is a must-see.
Built of terracotta and stone, the mosque is 168 feet long and 108 feet wide, with walls eight feet long. Seventy-seven small domes adorn the roof. There are four towers at each of the four corners, as well as small domes. It is believed that the architects were unable to build a large dome with bricks. The columns supporting the ceiling were made of stone. But it is not known how these stones were brought to Bagerhat. There is a legend that Hazrat Khan Jahan (RA) floated all the stones for the construction of the sixty-domed mosque by a waterway from the Rajmahal (Orissa, now Chattogram) using his miraculous powers.
According to the archeology department, the mosque was first restored by the British in 1933 and later by the Pakistan government. The government repaired it again in 2014 under the South Asian Infrastructure Development Project, and the Archaeological Department of Bagerhat continues regular maintenance work. The mosque became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
A ticket is required to enter the premises of the sixty-domed mosque. A ticket is Tk 20 per person. An entry ticket for foreign visitors is Tk 200.
During the summer, it opens at 10 am and closes at 6 pm. In winter, it opens one hour earlier than in summer. Sundays are closed. On Monday, it opens at 2.00 pm. The fort is kept closed from 1 pm to 1.30 pm. However, it is closed on Fridays from 12:30 PM to 3:30 PM for Jumma prayers.
How to go
A number of buses, including Meghna, Banphool, Falguni, Baleshwar, Hamim, and Dola, leave from Syedabad Bus Terminal in Dhaka every day from 6 am to 10 am and from 7 pm to 10 pm. Sohag, Shakura, Hanif, and Eagle transport vehicles depart from Gabtali Bus Terminal. Visitors can reach the Sixty-Domed Mosque by rickshaw or easy bike from the Bagerhat bus stand.
Apart from this, you can reach Khulna by intercity train, the Sundarban Express, from Dhaka to Khulna, and from there by bus or CNG, you can go to the Sixty Dome Mosque. It will take one and a half hours from Khulna.
Google Maps location of Sixty-domed Mosque, click here.
As you are in Bagerhat, you can also pay a visit to Kotka Beach, a beautiful beach in the Sundarbans. To find out more about Kotka Beach, click here.