Terracotta temples could be a common affair for the people in Bengal. But Terracotta mosques? Terracotta means Burnt Clay. These beautiful, crumbling, almost dilapidated architectural masterpieces are barely talked about. Built around the 16th to 19th centuries, did you know that these mosques even pre-date the temples of Bengal? The Islamic influence did away with representation of humans and animals in the terracotta panels. Instead glazed terracotta and decorative techniques of pierced mosaics were adopted from the architecture of Central Asia and Delhi Sultanate. But Bengali artisans had also incorporated styles of folk art and ornamental designs in these mind-boggling pieces of artefacts to maintain ingenuity. These mosques uphold the true heritage of Bengal.
Adina Mosque, Pandua
The Adina Mosque of Pandua, built by Sultan Sikandar Shah in 1375 is one of its kind. It stands out because of it elaborate design pattern and vast size. It bears a strong resemblance to the Great Mosque of Damascus. From open courtyards to prayer chambers, or inverted tumbler shaped domes to embellished galleries and pulpits, the Adina Mosque stands tall and famous, not only in Bengal but in the entire sub-continent. Adina Mosque consists of bricks designed with stones. Unfortunately due to the damages caused by the earthquakes in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the mosque is mostly in ruins today.
Lotton Mosque, Malda
The Lotton Mosque was constructed at around 1475 AD by Sultan Yusuf Shah. This is the only architectural structure in Gaur where the walls had been faced with coloured bricks. Traditionally ascribed to a royal courtesan, the single domed structure has a verandah with two domes and a sloped roof. The once coloured bricks had disappeared leaving some glitches of its splendid past.
Tantipara Mosque, Gaur
The Tantipara Mosque is located very close to the tomb of Fateh Khan. The Mosque is known for its terracotta murals, floral panels and 10 domes, which are bound to keep you tongue-tied. Built in 1480 by Mirshid Khan, this beautiful work of art is a supreme example of the Bengali carved brick style layout.
Qadam Rasul Mosque, Gaur
The Qadam Rasul, a single-domed square artifice, was built by Sultan Nusrat Shah in 1530 to enshrine a stone reproduction of an impression of the Prophet’s foot. Arched entrances pierce the north, south and east sides. Qadam Rasul of Gaur is important for its place in the development of the Bengali regional style of architecture, which reached its maturity under the Sultanate. Designed like a hut, it is a square room with verandahs on three sides, embellished with black stones that holds the relic.
The Mosque at Saptagram is devoid of any roof or dome and has ornamental works in brick. One Arabic inscription engraved on stone slab on the front wall of the Mosque records its erection during the time of Sultan Nusrat Shah by Sayyid Jamalud-Din Husain of Amul in 1529 AD. At the enclosure with three tombs Sayyid Fakhr Ud-Din, his wife and his eunuch are said to be buried.
Kherur Mosque, Sagardighi
Rich in floral motifs, the Kherur Mosque is extensively decorated with terracotta art. Kherur is about 40 km from Baharampur, the district headquarters of Murshidabad. This mosque was erected by Muazum Rifat Khan in 900 Hizri (1494-95 A.D.) during the reign of Sultan Alauddin Hussain Shah. The most attractive feature of this relic is that it is a single domed brick built mosque!
Bari Masjid, Pandua
The Bari Masjid is a traditional work of art that stands tall and steady in Pandua. The meaning of the Bari is “the big mosque which shows the incredible architecture styled with Bricks”. It was built by Shah Sufiuddin in 14th century.