Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Traces of Isa Khan, the Man of Steel, in Kishoreganj

Written by: Wasim Subhan Choudhury

Isa Khan was one of the rare rulers who stood tall during Mughal rules. He used his political negotiation skills and war tactics to refuse Mughal emperors take control of Bengal. In the course, he defeated two Mughal generals.
This man of steel constructed an outpost in Karimganj Upazila in Kishoreganj. The place is popularly known as Jangalbari. It is a formation consisting of several structures inside. Dewan Amin Dau Khan, fourteenth in the line of Isa Khan descendants, lives here at the moment.

Eastward the Brahmaputra River, there is a village in Kishoreganj called Egarosindur. This Egarosindur lost all its glory days and currently remains as a ‘regular’ village. But during its time, it was the hub of all trade and commerce, which extended to being a key river port for Muslims those traded products with Paris and Rome in the 8th century. Some of the many tribes living there were called Choch and Hajong. A king named Azhaba brought the village under his rule after beating King Botong in the 10th century, but that did not last long as Bebuid Raza soon defeated Azhaba and became the dominant ruler. Bebuid Raza built infrastructures such as temples and large canals in Egarosindur. After Isa Khan’s (1529 –  1599) declaration of the city as a sovereign state, Egarosindur further bloomed in trade and commerce.  Isa Khan constructed a fort here. The famous duel between Isa Khan and Man Singh, the fearless general of Akbar, was held in a place named Tanga beside Egarosindur Fort. Man Singh was astonished when Isa Khan refused to take Man Singh’s life and offered him his own sword when the general’s sword was broken in the duel. Before confronting Man Singh, Isa Khan defeated another Mughal general Shahbaz Khan. Isa Khan was more tactful that time. That’s because, Shahbaz Khan in September 1584 crossed Ganges near Khizirpur and attacked Sonargaon, Katrabo and Egarasindhur. Being off guard, Isa Khan deluded negotiation of surrender to Shahbaz Khan to buy time. After a month or so, Isa Khan, with help of Masum Khan Kabuli, launched counterattack with musket and gunpowder artilleries. Shahbaz Khan and his troops were waiting for Isa Khan to surrender. The sudden attack destroyed their moral and soon they were defeated. 

Isa Khan died of natural cause in September 1599. Bangladesh Navy named one of its vessel and a base in honor of this man of steel. 

Kishoreganj is located in the central part of the country. The district is well connected with rest of the country in river ways and road ways. It is known for its traditional rituals including Kurikhai Mela and other shrine-oriented festivals.

Kishoreganj has many ancient structures. Among others Sadi Mosque and Shah Mahmud Mosjid are surely two pearls of Kishoreganj.

Sadi Mosque
The son of Shaikh Shir, Sadi, built a single-domed mosque in 1652. This mosque is known as Sadi Mosque. Emperor Shahjahan was on the Delhi throne at that time when it was built. The mosque was built as a square with each side measuring 25ft feet and terracotta decorating both inside and outside.
The design of the mosque makes it stand out from any other mosques in the region. Built on a raised piece of land, the mosque’s north and south sides have single arches centred in the middle and three on the eastern side. Although each side of the mosque is 25 ft, the central archway has a more rectangular frame, along with angled rectangle on the archways. In accordance with the eastern doorways, the Qibla wall is punctuated with three semi-octagonal mihrabs.  

It is located at Egarosindur village in Pakundia upazila of Kishoreganj.

Shah Mahmud Mosque
Shah Mahmud Mosque was named after Sheikh Shah Mahmud. This is square-shaped, measuring to only 5.79m per side, standing tall and proud over an elevated piece of land. The entrance through the eastern side of the mosque is through a Do-Chala roof house. The mosque is supported at the four corners by octagonal-shaped columns with each walls having two small columns. The eastern wall is decorated with terracotta.

The square shape of the mosque and the four walls are highlighted with the usage of octagonal towers which are tall and were initially tipped with kalasa finials. The western wall contains three mihrabs, with two of them shaped as rectangular and the middle one as semi-octagonal. The decorations go beyond the low parapets and extend to the frontons. The parapets and cornices follow Mughal fashion and are therefore on the side rather than standing straight.

Both these mosques should be in the ‘must visit’ list during a tour to Kishoreganj. Kishoreganj however has few other attractions which include Jangalbari, Egarosindur, Pagla Mosque, Poet Chandraboty Shibmondir and Jinda Bibir Mazar.

(Photos from member of Save the Heritages of Bangladesh)

Wasim is a free lance management consultant who is also a histroy enthusiast. He is an avid blogger and loves to travel around in Bangladesh visiting of the beaten path sites which are usually unknown to people. 

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