POST TIME: 22 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Sura Mosque
M Mahmud Ali

Sura Mosque

The spiritual divinity and religious essence of Islam have been successfully translated for centuries into mosque architecture through different geometric approaches. The purity of geometric forms have been augmented and enhanced by the unique style of decoration, which is vividly found in many ancient mosques of Bangladesh. Sura Mosque is one such mosque. There is no inscription on the mosque, but in light of the fine stonework and other architectural characteristics it can be dated to early 16th Century, which belongs to the Sultanate period. Some experts claim the mosque was built by Sultan Alauddin Hussain Shah.

Sura Mosque is located at Chorgacha village in Ghoraghat upazila of Dinajpur district. The mosque is built on a 1.5-metre high platform. From east to west, the mosque measures about 12 metres by 8 metres, the walls have a thickness of 2 metres on average.

There are four turrets in four corners of the main chamber, and one turret each in the two outer corners of the verandas. The turrets are made of stone and octagonal in shape. There are three arched entrances in each of the walls between the main prayer chamber and east wall of the verandah. There are similar entrances in the north and south walls of the main chamber. There is a large dome above the main chamber and three smaller domes above the verandah.

There are three mihrabs made of stone on the west wall inside the mosque. The doorsills of all the entrances and pilasters are also made of stone. The use of stone along with brick is a special feature of this mosque, which gives the building a unique heritage value.

Innumerable pieces of black stones, some of them carved with human figures, can be seen lying around the mosque. Most probably the stone pieces belonged to a Hindu or Buddhist structure somewhere else.

There are some myths and folktales about the mosque. It is said the mosque was built in one single night by invisible jinns (genies). The word ‘Sura’ refers to an invisible object or creature (gayebi). That is why the local people call it Sura Mosque. According to historians, the mosque was built for Muslim travellers to say their prayers on their way from Gouro to Ghoraghat during the Sultanate period (1493-1518AD).

The mosque is standing as a witness of time in a remote area, where no one lives now. The more than 500-year-old marvelous mosque is losing its unique charm due to negligence. Proper preservation steps should be taken immediately to save a glorious heritage mosque of our country. n

References: Mosque Architecture of Pre-mughal Bengal by Syed Mahmudul Hasan (UPL, 1979); Archaeological Survey Report of Greater Dinajpur District (DOA, 1995); and History in Pictures- Greater Rangpur and Dinajpur Area HQs (Rangpur, 2008).

Photos: Writer.