The Darasbari Mosque is one of the two jami mosques found in Gaur. The architecture of this mosque is interesting because it successfully integrates the influences of many of its contemporaries, the most discernible being that of the great Adina Mosque in Pandua. This connection is reflected in the Darasbari Mosque's simple decoration and the ground plan of the excavated madrasa associated with the mosque.
Time, weather and locals pillaging for building materials have severely damaged the mosque. An inscription dating the construction of a jami mosque to 1479 by Yusuf Shah was found in the vicinity of the Darasbari Mosque and is now accepted as the date of construction for this mosque.
The prayer hall is a large covered rectangular space. The interior measures 100' x 39' with 6' thick walls. The hall consists of a central corridor, which was once covered by three chauchala or charchala (Bengali domes) vaults that are flanked on either side by three aisles, each consisting of three domed bays. The inspiration for a central charchala vaulted corridor can be traced back to the Shait Gumbad mosque in Bagerhat.
The prayer hall is preceded in the east by a 10' wide verandah that had a charchala vaulted central bay flanked by three domed side bays. The east verandah is a common feature found in the square type mosque, but for the first time is being used in a rectangular mosque. The prayer hall is entered through the seven-arched entrances of the verandah. The vaulted space of both the verandah and the prayer hall must have once been quite remarkable but unfortunately most of the domes have collapsed.
The northwest corner has indications of a ladies gallery built as an upper storey and accessible only from a flight of steps from outside. The western wall of the prayer hall has niches for nine mihrabs. The floral and geometric patterns carved in relief on the terra cotta of the mihrabs are very similar to those found in the Adina mosque. There is also a 'palm and parasite' motif which portrays a vine rooted into the bole of a palm tree and spreads itself out to completely cover the mihrab space with its foliage. This motif finds a close parallel in the famous Sidi Sayyid mosque in Ahmadabad, which was built around the same period.
The name 'darasbari' indicates that a madrasa (religious institution) was originally attached to this mosque. A low mound was discovered during excavations about a quarter mile from the mosque in the neighboring village of Ghoshpur. It revealed the foundations of a 169' square madrasa consisting of 40 cells arranged in four wings around a 123' square inner courtyard. The center of the courtyard apparently had a covered rectangular pavilion with octagonal turrets at each corner. The exact purpose of the pavilion is not clear. The north, east and south wings seem to have had three large gates located in the middle while the western wing has evidence of three mihrabs. It is debatable whether this madrasa belonged to the Darasbari mosque or was independent, but the proximity of it seems to indicate a connection. Sources:
Asher, Catherine B. 1984. Inventory of Key Monuments. Art and Archaeology Research Papers: The Islamic Heritage of Bengal. Paris: UNESCO, 71.
Ahmed, Nazimuddin. 1984. Discover the monuments of Bangladesh. Dhaka: University Press Limited, 149.