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The Financial Express

Aurangzeb era mosque needs a facelift

| Updated: June 09, 2021 17:16:34


Photo shows the mosque in Chhoto Soondar village under Rampur union in Chandpur Sadar Upazila has turned bushy due to lack of maintenance and care — FE Photo Photo shows the mosque in Chhoto Soondar village under Rampur union in Chandpur Sadar Upazila has turned bushy due to lack of maintenance and care — FE Photo

Renovation work of the newly-discovered historical mosque of Aurangzeb era at Chhoto Soondar village in Rampur union of Chandpur Sadar Upazila has remained suspended for three years- to the surprise of all.

Located beside a village carpeted road and at the southern corner of the Talukderbari premises, the mosque has a good place for the standing of Imam.

It has a big dome in the middle and four domes in the south and four others on the north side.

Besides, it has three niches in the south and three others on the north side of very thick walls (33 inches) to keep the holy Qurans and valuable religious books.

The mosque building is one-storey. It has a big door for entrance and exit. The mosque is not so big at all. It was made with charred brick, pickets, sand, lime etc.

A few elderly people have told the FE that there are a few graves beside the mosque.

It is worth mentioning about 17 years ago, a local elderly man Aziz Talukder tried to discover the mosque by cutting a big 'Jeen tree', that actually covered the most parts of the mosque but later, he got nervous from religious viewpoint and therefore he abandoned the idea of felling the trees to discover the mosque.

He later passed away, telling elderly people about the existence of this ancient mosque of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb era.

In 2018, the mosque was discovered in the deep forest of Talukderbari by some day labourers while they were felling 'Jeen' trees just for burning fuel. At one stage, they gradually saw a big red coloured dome and the mosque and later they felled more 'Jeen' trees and then discovered this old and worn out pucca mosque of red colour which was actually covered with the 'Jeen' trees around.

Then locals saw with wonder that it was constructed with very strong, big sized and standard bricks. Then it was almost half sunk by earth and sand that deposited around the walls of the mosque due to repeated floods during so many hundreds of years!

On hearing about it, local MP Dr Dipu Moni, (also a resident of the neighbouring village) and hundreds of men, women and children rushed to see it in September 2018.

The then MP and now Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni told the people present that she had read about it in history books and heard about the existence of the mosque in this village. Now it was discovered.

Later, due to the keen interest and directives of Dr Dipu Moni, the officials from the Archaeological Department visited the mosque.

A team of experts from the department visited the mosque on September 07, 2019 and took measurement of the walls, niches, floors, doors, windows and domes and examined and scanned the structures and bricks used for the mosque and finally came to the conclusion that it is a mosque of Aurangzeb era.

It is about five hundred years old. Later on, it was incorporated into the government gazette.

Following it, Deputy Commissioner of Chandpur Mazedur Rahman Khan hanged up a signboard at the mosque site in early 2019 alerting the people not to make any sort of damage to it as it is an asset of the Archaeological Department.

At first, a fund of Tk0.8 million (eight lakh) was sanctioned by the Cultural Affairs Ministry for the renovation, reform and maintenance work of the mosque.

About Tk0.39 million (3.90 lakh) was spent initially too for this purpose. But the work's standard was questionable to all.

On getting complaints that the renovation work of the mosque was being done by avoiding the design of the government and the work was of low standard, then the Archaeological Department DG Md Hannan Mia, paid a surprise visit on February 29, 2020, and expressed dissatisfaction after observing that the renovation work was not done properly as per design of the government. He ordered the engineer concerned and contractor to follow the government design accurately, work properly and to use bricks like the ones used in the ancient mosque so that the mosque gets back its past glory and outer and inner face.

But the workers were allegedly using ordinary bricks in the renovation work.

Then the work was stopped. Since then, due to some bureaucratic bottlenecks, the renovation work has not resumed as yet.

The rest of the allocated money Tk4.10 lakh (Tk 0.41 million) for the mosque is supposed to be sent back by this June as the work has fallen into uncertainty.

None can say definitely when the work will resume.

Meanwhile, for lack of proper care, the entire mosque area is again turning bushy thus paving the way for happy movement and haunting places of dangerous insects and reptiles.

While visiting the mosque area, this correspondent heard, the villagers and children of the village while passing by the worn-out and dilapidated ancient mosque, also pose a question and pass comment to each other about this long time postponement of the renovation work of the mosque, located near the local Rampur UP Office and not far from the ancestral home of Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni.

While talking to many local people of the village, all said the same thing. Even a small schoolboy named Mohammad Mehraj (13) also ventilated the same complaints about the prolonged postponement of the renovation work of the old mosque. The real reason was not known to them.

Some villagers apprehend that as the mosque's building is dilapidated too much, it may collapse at any time due to this season's inclement weather and stormy winds.

Contacted, Rampur UP Chairman Al Mamun Patwary told the FE that it was regrettable that the work of the mosque remained suspended for about three years.

"We appeal to the government to take early steps to resume the repair and renovation work of this ancient mosque as soon as possible so that we can say with pride that we have a mosque of Mughal era in this village."

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