Chhoto Shona Mosque


Chhota Sona Masjid or Small Golden Mosque derives its name from the gilding that once graced the surface of the fifteen domes of this mosque. An inscription ascribes Wali Muhammad as the builder and it was erected during the reign of Sultan Husain Shah.

It is a simple rectangular structure its exterior measuring 82′ x 57′ x 20′ and its interior 70′- 4″ x 40′- 9″. In addition to four corner towers, there are two additional projecting buttressed towers that frame the back of the central mihrab. This brick structure is embellished with Rajmahal black stone facing on the exterior and this transition between materials is visible at the point where the domes begin. All arches and domes are of brick and the transition from the square to the circle of the drum-less domes are achieved with brick stalactite pendentives.

An important architectural feature is the high quality of stone carving done in shallow relief on the inside and outside walls. These are stone reproduction of highly developed traditional terracotta art of Bangladesh closely resembling woodcarving or filigree work. Many of the stones used for casing this mosque are of Hindu origin. This is evident from an architectural fragment taken and now kept in the British Museum which shows the image of Buddha on one side and shallow diaper design of Muslim workmanship on the other showing traces of gilding. According to local legend, this mosque was once richly decorated with gilding and gold paint in the tile decoration.

The triple cornice is gently curved and there are gutters provided for draining water from the roof. The eastern façade has five multi-cusped pointed arches that form the main entrance to the mosque. The north and south façade each have a three-arched doorway that leads directly into the aisles. A central nave divides the north and south prayer hall. The nave is wider than the side halls, measuring 14′-5″ as compared to the 11′-4″ width of the side halls. The nave is emphasized by three chau chala domes (four segmented hut-shaped domes), in contrast to the six hemispherical domes covering the prayer halls. Two rows of chamfered pillars carrying arches divide the north and south prayer halls into three longitudinal aisles. The six domes are arranged such that two are placed in each of the three aisles on either side of the central nave. The domes are arranged in diminishing heights and this is achieved by varying the thickness of the domes.

There is a ladies gallery or Badshah-ka-Takht on the north that is elevated on slender carved columns. It is a square, two-storied structure and the entrance is from the northwest corner of the mosque through a porch that is elevated to the same height. The entrance porch was probably covered with a canopy. There is also a subterranean passage leading to the northern iwan just below the zenana gallery.