Dhaka’s Mughal-era prayer hall at risk from unplanned construction

January 26th, 2009 - 12:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Jan 26 (IANS) The oldest surviving Mughal-era Eidgah here faces a threat from unplanned construction of a six-storeyed mosque on its premises, a media report said.Dhanmondi Eidgah mosque committee is constructing the building without approval from Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) as required by the Building Construction Act and Dhaka Metropolitan Building Rules.

“This Eidgah is the oldest surviving Mughal monument in Dhaka city. There is no second one with the architectural forms and features similar to it,” conservationist architect Abu Sayeed M. Ahmed was quoted as saying by The Daily Star.

Popularly known as Dhanmondi Eidgah, the 368-year-old structure is a listed archaeological site of the Department of Archaeology.

Dhaka, once capital of a princely state, is reputed to have a thousand mosques.

According to Sayeed, it was built during the Mughal era and has historical, architectural and heritage value.

“This is an urban open space and it has been in use for Eid congregation since it was built in 1640. The under-construction building, within five feet of the Eidgah, has blocked the main entry to it,” Sayeed said.

Sayeed expressed the fear that the Eidgah structure may have been weakened by the rig vibration during construction of the new building.

“It is a very bad choice of site for construction of a huge building, as it has spoilt the elegant look of the heritage monument,” said Sayeed.

Dhaka Metropolitan Building Rules of 2008 requires that any development within 250-metre radius of an archaeological and heritage site must have permission of government’s high-powered Nagar Unnayan Committee before approaching the Rajuk Building Committee for plan approval.

“We are going to demolish the old mosque to complete the new one,” said Atiqul Habib, secretary general of Dhanmondi Eidgah Mosque Committee.

An inscription of Department of Archaeology, referring to a Persian inscription set over the central prayer-niche, reads that Mir Abul Qa’asim, Diwan of Subedar Prince Shah Suja of the Mughal Dynasty, erected the Eidgah. It was meant for use twice annually during Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha congregations.

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