Qutb Shahi Masjid – Golden Mosque of Pandua

Before heading towards Adina Masjid from Eklakhi Mausoleum, I made a quick visit to the third most prominent structure of Pandua – the Qutb Shahi Mosque. It is a small yet beautiful mosque made of stone & brick. The enclosed mosque is nothing compared to the massiveness of Adina but I really liked its ambience. The inside of the mosque is really beautiful and picturesque.

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The Qutb Shahi Mosque of Pandua is also called the Sona Masjid because once its turrets and walls were gilded with gold plates – a common tradition in Sultanate Architecture of Bengal. Though the building is located just in front of the Eklakhi Mausoleum, they had a gap of a century and a lot of administrative changes between them. While the first one was constructed in the year 1433, the later was erected in 1582 and in between this one and a half centuries, the political scenario of India changed completely. When Eklakhi Mausoleum was constructed, the Sultans of Bengal were at their peak. The Great Mosque of the East was already there and the whole of Bengal was under a single, stable rule but when the Qutb Shahi Mosque came up, it was the Mughals who were ruling the biggest & richest empire on earth. The ruling Sultanate of Bengal was made a part of the history book and Subahdars or Governors appointed by the Mughals were taking care of the administration in the region. Long after the fall of the Guptas, Bengal once again became only a province of the powerful kingdom centred in the North of the country – Agra on this occasion.

Despite the fact, Qutb Shahi Mosque was built in the same style as the rest of the buildings in the region and there is no Mughal impression on the structure. Qutb Shahi Mosque was not a royal structure and was basically built in the memory of a Sufi Saint named – Nur-Qutb-Ul-Alam by his Makhdum Saikh – a descendent and follower of the saint. The gate of its eastern boundary is used to enter the premise and the gate is a simple one – rectangular in plan with four corner columns to strengthen the structure. The pointed arched gate is placed centrally. The use of stone and brick is haphazard – the bottom of the walls are built of stone with the upper half with brick but that does not follow any pattern. Entering through the gate opens up a rectangular courtyard at the end of which stands the lovely stone mosque.

The most interesting part of the mosque – to my eyes – was the narrow curve on the parapet which is an essential part of vernacular Bengali architecture and within a few decades was going to see extensive use at Bishnupur – a place too far and too remote from here. The rectangular mosque had four strengthening towers at the corners and a spherical cupola is placed on top of each tower. Cupola on top of towers is found in most of the Mughal structures and that could be the Mughal element in the structure.

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The entire walls of the mosque are built of stone while the upper part – the domes – were built with bricks – which is now totally broken. Qutb Shahi Mosque measures 25.10 X 11.5 meters and is only two aisles in breadth. Another interesting element in the mosque is the presence of a pulpit inside it. Pulpit, though seen in many churches, was not generously used in mosques and no mosque erected in the Mughal period has a pulpit in it. Adina Mosque has a beautiful pulpit which shows it was common in the region and Qutb Shahi Mosque was more close to its regional architecture than contemporary Mughal style.

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Five pointed-arched gates enter into the interior of the mosque where five beautiful Mihrabs are created on the Western Wall (The wall facing Qibla). Though the roof is totally gone it can be assumed that the five-row and two-aisle mosque had ten domes. The interior of the building, because of its grey stone finish is extremely beautiful and picturesque. At present, the building is not under use and is taken care of by ASI. Inside the mosque, a rectangular stone platform is present which is surely a later addition. It is a tomb of some saint from a later period. The mosque was built not as a dome but a prayer hall in memory of the Saint Nur-Qutb-Ul-Alam. From Outside the building is simple and the only decoration visible is the string moulding above the entry arches and below the cornice of the roof. Beautifully masoned stone blocks and its white mortar create a fabulous look for the building.

Once the walls of the building, the domes and the cupolas were gilded with gold plates (Bara Sona Mosque of Gour and Choto Sona Mosque of Bangladesh were also decorated likewise) and that’s why locals used to call it Sona Masjid. Along with the domes, the golds have also disappeared and right now it is only a deserted stone mosque. It does not take much time to tour the Qutb Shahi Mosque but when in Pandua this monument is not to be missed.

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