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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Bagerhat, Bangladesh - Page 2

Written by Richard Taylor
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“Okay sir?  We can go now?” Nazmul asked me finally, once my novelty value had faded.  We took the car along a narrow dirt path, through a small village and stopped on the west side of the pond.  Nestled in a clearing, surrounded by bamboo fence was the Nine Dome Mosque.  Unlike the Dargha mosque and mausoleum, which seemed to be maintained with a regular coat of reddish-brown and cream paint, the current mosque was more in line with the district’s other structures – unpainted brown brick, which looked untouched by time.  There were no visitors here, no pilgrims, just a gaggle of geese feeding among the sparse grass and women passing with their washing.  The mosque sits unobtrusively, part of the village, simple and beautiful.

Nazmul then took me to Bagerhat’s showpiece, the Shat Gombuj Masjid, with its sixty pillars and seventy-seven domes (an option chosen perhaps because the expertise was unavailable to build a large single dome).  It may have been deliberate though.  This lack of looming dome has the effect (in keeping with the general’s modesty perhaps), in producing a massive structure that does not impose.  Like the Nine Dome Mosque, the Shat Gombuj is of a piece with the landscape, humble brick and earth tones.  A beautiful pond spreads behind it, festooned with pink lilies – another massive water tank I gathered, grown wild with the landscape.  Two women were chatting along its southern bank and as I lifted my camera to record the scene, they discreetly turned their heads away.

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Opposite the main entrance of the mosque is a museum, filled with ornaments and tools and photographs detailing the history of the city and its excavation.

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Nazmul had excused himself to grab a bite to eat and chat with the vendors and I walked to the other side of the road, where an old gentleman was standing on the causeway between fish ponds, slowly unfurling his net.  He smiled and greeted me with extremely red teeth (as in parts of India, a lot of the locals chew paan a mix of betel leaf and areca nut, resulting in little red spit blotches decorating walls and streets).  From the huts at the end of the causeway, others emerged to say hello.  The old man introduced them in turn; his son, his granddaughter, his grandson and they shook my hand and pumped me for information.

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“Okay sir?  Are you ready,” said Nazmul, pulling up with the car.  I said my goodbyes to the little family and we headed back to town, leaving behind this beautifully unassuming ‘heritage site’ of ponds and villages and mosques.  All man made.  All perfectly natural.

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©Richard Taylor

 

(Page 2 of 2)
Last modified on Tuesday, 30 June 2015

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