As per an inscription over the central doorway, Khawja
Shahbaz Mosque was built in 1679 AD by Khwaja Shahbaz, a prominent merchant of
Dhaka during the viceroyalty of prince Muhammad Azam. Presently it is located near
Curzon hall and Teen Netar Mazar (tomb of three national leaders).
Khawja Shahbaz Mosque is positioned near Mir Jumla’s Gate
(Dhaka Gate), one of the oldest Mughal architectures of Dhaka, signifying the
prominence of the place. The mosque was probably constructed after the death
and subsequent construction of the Khawja Shahbaz Tomb. However, the mosque
may have existed before as an insignificant structure. The tomb is located at
the east of the mosque courtyard and is an integral part of the mosque complex,
follows the same architectural style. The Khawja Shahbaz Mosque is a typical
Bengali Mughal type (Asher, 1984); that is, a rectangular structure crowned
The mosque has an oblong plan of 69'3" x 29'3" externally
and 56'8" x 16'0" internally. The structure is divided into three
equal interior bays, roofed over by three fluted, bulbous domes, resting on
drums. Of the three equal sized domes, the central one rests over a slightly
elevated bay. The eastern façade has three arched openings while the northern
and southern façades have a single arched opening to the prayer hall. Two wide
multi-cusped transverse arches, issuing from twin engaged brick pillars, divide
the interior of the mosque into three equal bays, each roofed over with a low
shouldered dome on a cylindrical drum. There are three mihrabs, each aligned
with the three entrances at east and the central portion of the qibla wall is
projected westward from the ground to the roof. 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 arched doorway that correspond to the three domes above and adorned by
cusped arches, each set off by a series of arched recessed niches. The middle section is emphasized by a frame
of slender, engaged columns, a raised cornice, and an elevated dome. There are
three semi-octagonal mihrabs in the qibla wall; the central one is larger and
the flanking ones narrower and dwarfish similar to the front façade.
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.