The date of construction this rectangular three-domed mosque
inside the Lalbagh fort is problematic. Traditionally it is considered to be contemporary
with the Lalbagh Fort, constructed by Muhammad Azam in 1678-79. However, recent
exploration identified it as 1649, with a further restoration of 1780 (Hasan, 2007).
The fort complex named Lalbagh stands before the Buriganga River in the
southwestern part of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
This mosque, part of the Lalbagh Fort Complex and built
under the rule of Governor Shaista Khan, is situated in the western part of the
complex, aligned with the tomb of Bibi Pari. The Lalbagh Fort mosque is a
typical Bengali Mughal type (Asher, 1984);
that is, a rectangular structure crowned with three-domes. It is one of the
finest examples of its kind, where the central dome is larger (Islam & Noblea, 1998).
The mosque has an oblong plan of 66'9" x 33'6"
externally and 53'8" x 20'2" internally. The structure is divided
into three equal interior bays, roofed over by three fluted, bulbous domes,
resting on drums. The proportionately smaller lateral domes are placed on the
equal size bays by splitting each dome into a half-dome and placing it on a
pendentive. Stylistically this kind is known as Shaista Khani architecture,
commonly found in and around Dhaka.
The rectangular structure is buttressed by four corner octagonal
turrets, capped by plastered cupolas. These turrets rise slightly above the
parapet walls and ribbed in typical Bengali fashion. Parapets are straight
instead of the curvilinear cornice of pre-Mughal types. The eastern or main
facade is visually divided into three sections. Each section contains an
entrance doorway that correspond to the three domes above and adorned by cusped
arches. The middle section is emphasized
by a frame of slender, engaged columns, a raised cornice, and a larger dome. The
Lalbagh Fort Mosque's north and south interior walls are divided into a series
of horizontal panels, reflecting the motifs on the exterior. The three mihrabs
contain faceted stucco work similar to that on the entrances.
The mosque was restored and repaired by the Department of Archaeology, Bangladesh, and is now a protected monument.
Asher, C. B. Inventory of Key Monuments. In The Islamic Heritage of Bengal, George Michell, editor. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 1984.
Hasan, P. Sultans and Mosques: The Early Muslim Architecture of Bangladesh. London: I. B. Tauris, 2007.
Islam, I., and Noblea, A. Mosque Architecture in Bangladesh: The Archetype and Its Changing Morphology. Journal of Cultural Geography, 17(2), 5-25, 1998.