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Discovering our heritage Atiya Mosque

Nahin Taher

History never fails to revive old memories of a place, things and people. However, we don’t take it as our responsibility to maintain or preserve an edifying glory, that once stood out to tell the tale of its origin. And, to know more about that origin, we need to travel and seek in-depth knowledge of that historical heritage. Travelling, history and heritage are entwined souls; and one without the other is just a lost piece of our past. One such glorifying heritage, that was built four centuries ago, is the Atiya Mosque.
Atiya Mosque, is situated in Atiya – a small village in the Delduar Upazila, 6km away from Tangail district. The beautiful mosque is surrounded by the serene Louhojong River on its eastern side.
This ancient mosque was constructed around 1610-1611 AD, during the reign of Emperor Jahangir, by Sayeed Khan Panni, son of Baizid Khan Panni, in honour of Shah Baba Kashmiri. The small village Atiya, came into prominence after the arrival of a great saint Shah Baba Kashmiri, who was preaching Islam in this part of Bengal. The Atiya Mosque is now a protected monument under the Department of Archeology and Museum of Bangladesh. The mosque has undergone repairs twice, once by Rawshan Khatun Chaudhuri in 1837 AD, and again by Abu Ahmed Gajnabi in 1909, because of its severe depletion due to a massive earthquake that took place in 1800.
This historical mosque has four spherical domes at the top. The larger dome is located in the western part of the mosque, and the three smaller domes are located in the east. These three domes are constructed in a single row. All the domes have ornate decorations at the bottom part, and have a small minaret-like object at the top. Four decorative pillars support the mosque at the four corners.
The popularity of the Atiya mosque is because of its impressive and decorative terracotta art, which has been carved into the bricks with ornate designs. The lovely floral patterned rosettes and geometric terracotta, which are carved inside the circle on the outer side of the northern and eastern walls, are the depiction of the artistic décor used during the Muslim-Bengal period. This piece of craftsmanship made a distinct contribution in making this structure the beautiful heritage that it is today. The architectural features of a typical Bengali villager’s plaited grass hut are reflected in the close-set panel decoration of the Atiya Mosque’s facade. The designs and the architectural patterns of the mosque blend harmoniously to reflect both the Sultanate and Mughal features of Bengal.
There is a large water tank at the western side of the mosque. The mosque has three entrances in the eastern side, and two entrances at the north and south sides each. The homogeneous terracotta panels, with exquisite floral designs, embellished with numerous small rectangular terracotta panels in the eastern facade of the mosque, are similar to that of Gaur (a ruined city in the India-Bangladesh boarder), the Jhan Jhania mosque (built in 1535) and the Kadam Rasul building (built in 1530).
Interesting fact:
The iconic Atiya Mosque is printed on the Ten Taka note of Bangladesh. But, sadly enough, nowadays these notes are very rare and are available only at the banks or are kept as mementos.

Source: Dhaka Tribune, Dhaka, Bangladesh

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