Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Hidden Gems along the Mighty Jamuna

Bangladesh has reason to be proud of its rich ancient heritage. There are so many archeological and historical places everywhere in Bangladesh which shows us the reflections of the ancient times.If you are thinking of a tour that compromises of historic and heritage filled locations,take a tour through North Bengal.While heading towards the North, people think mainly of sites such as Mahasthangarh or Kantajeu Temple or Shompur Mahavihara ,we have discovered a few hidden gems in course of our research travels.Following are just four small examples from many of our finds.One can easily see these sites on the way to Bogra with a few small stops.They are: Atia Mosque, Navaratna Temple, Bhabanipur Temple Complex and Kherua Mosque.

Atia Mosque:

Muslim Jamindar Sayeed Khan Panni,son of Baizid Khan Panni established the Atia Mosque in 1608.In the early 17th century, Jamindar Sayeed Khan Panni also received Atia Pargana as a gift from Mughal Emperor Jahangir.
Terracotta Work 
The mosque is near the shrine of Hazrat Shahan Shah,who came to Atia from Kashmir in 913 Hijri along with his 39 followers to preach the Islam in the region.Their graves are also located near the mosque.People believe the mosque was built in the honour of a Saint, Shah Baba Kashmiri.In the 18th Century, it was damaged during the massive earthquake; a reconstruction of the mosque was later made in 1837.In 1909, further reconstruction work was carried out jointly by the two Jaminder Wazed Ali Khan Panni from Korotia and Abu Ahmed Gaznavi Khan from Delduar,Tangail.

Atia Mosque 
Shah Baba Kashmiri Mazar
The mosque has four spherical domes at the top.The larger dome,which is located at the west part of the mosque is known as the Imam;the other three are smaller in size and located at the east side of the mosque all of which are aligned in a single row and are significantly known as Musalli.The domes have ornate design at the bottom and have a small minaret like object on the top. The mosque constitutes of four pillars at the four corners.Each of the pillarsare stylish and decorated nicely. The exterior of the structure is decorated with intricate terracotta patterns.Some has small flowers at the east side, and other two entrance at the north and south side. In recognition of the mosque’s significance as part of our heritage, it was featured on the TK10 currency that was introduced in 1996.

Navaratna Temple, Hatikumrul
Navaratna Temple Complex at Hatikumrul:

It is believed to be a 300 years old temple having similar architecture to the Kantajew Temple of Dinajpur, under the reign of Nawab Murshidkuli Khan (1704-1720 A.D). Ramnath Bhaduri, a Nayeb Dewan of Nawab Murshidkuli Khan was responsible for constructing this beautiful edifice, known as the ‘Navaratna Temple’(9 domed). It is situated at the Navaratna village of the Hatikumrul union, under the UllaparaUpazila of Sirajganj.

Navaratna Temple, Hatikumrul

The original temple is three storied. It is said that during construction of the temple, each brick was purified with ghee.
The ‘navaratna’ style of temple architecture (meaning-nine gems) incorporates two main levels, each with four spired dome pavilion, and a central pavilion above, for a total of nine spired domes. The style arose in Bengal during the 18th Century as an elaboration of the ‘panchatantra’ style that had a pavilion of five spired domes (four at the corners and one above).The Navaratna Temple and its adjacent small temples still offer enticing views to one’s eyes despite the wreckage of time.

Bhabanipur Temple Complex:

Bhabanipur temple complex is a place of worship dedicated to the Hindu goddess Shakti, also referred to as Durga, Sati or Parvati , which is located in Sherpur Upazila of Bogra Disctrict. It is one of the Shakti Peethas of the Indian subcontinent.As one of the Shakti Peethas, Bhabanipur is historically a pilgrimage destination for adherents to this particular denomination of Hinduism, which worships Shakti as their Divine Mother. The Bhabanipur Shaktipeeth is a place of worship consecrated to the Goddess MaaBhabani. The Shakti Devi here is called Arpana and the Bhairava is Vaman.

Shiv Temple
Bhabanipur temple Complex
According to the Mahabharata, in the Satya Yuga, King Daksha arranged a ritual called Yagna in which her daughter Goddess Sati and Her husband Lord Shiva was not invited. Still Goddess Sati attended the function. Unable to bear the insult towards Her husband Lord Shiva, Goddess Sati protested by sacrificing Herself into the fire of the Yagna. Enraged with grief, Lord Shiva started the dance of destruction across the Universe with the corpse of Goddess Sati on His shoulder. To stop this, Lord Vishnu cut the corpse of Goddess Sati with the Sudharshan Chakra and as a result the various pieces of Goddess Sati's body and Her ornaments fell at various places of the Indian subcontinent; of which the anklet, rib of left chest, right eye and bedding fell in the Bhabanipur Temple Complex and in another three or four places within Bangladesh. These places are now known as Shakti Peethas.
Maa Bhabani Temple

Surrounded by a boundary wall, the Temple complex comprises about an area of four acres (12 bighas) - Main Temple, Belbaran Tala, 4 Shiva Temples,Patal Bhairava Shiva Temple, Gopal Temple, Bashudev Temple and Nat Mondir. On the north side, there is a Sheba Angan, Holy Shakha-Pukur(conch-bangles pond), 2 bathing ‘ghats’, 4 Shiva Temples outside the boundary wall and a Panchamunda Asana.

Being a Shakti Peeth, Bhabanipur is a historic place of pilgrimage for the followers of Hinduism. The numerous temples at the site and the holy Shakha-Pukur pond are visited by devotees from all around Bangladesh and beyond its borders, irrespective of sectarian differences. 

Kherua Mosque:

Kherua mosque had been built more than 400 years ago, in the year of 1582 A.D. by Mirza Murad Khan Qaqshal, son of Jauhar Ali Khan Qaqshal. The Qaqshal was an Afghan tribe that, along with other Afghan groups followed Masum Khan Kabuli, who declared himself as “Sultan” and sought to oust the Mughals from Bengal. At that time in Sherpur, where the mosque is situated, had served as the headquarters of the rebels.
Kherua Mosque
The architectural observation avails that; it was built during the Mughal Era. According to the Mughal architecture, their mosques consist of only one prayer hall, which is now single-aisled with three or five bays. The exterior surfaces are plastered and paneled, the cornices are curved, and the buildings look less ponderous than Sultanate ones because of the higher domes.The Kherua mosque is a single-aisled, three domed (bayed) mosque which represents the North Indian and Mughal Era architectures in Bangladesh. But it also carries the Bengali features, such as the brick construction, curved cornice and engaged ribbed corner turrets. There was some ornamentation with terracotta tiles, which are no longer there now. There were two inscriptions engraved on the two sides of the central entrance. One inscription is still there while the other is being preserved in the Karachi Museum. From the shape of the stone used for the inscription, it is assumed that the piece was a part of a statue; and the inscription was inscribed on the backside of the statue and placed on the wall. Kherua Mosque signifies a great importance as an example of early Mughal mosques in Bengal.

Photo Credit: Tiger Tours and Internet

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