We were walking in silence in a shadowy road which is reportedly the oldest road discovered in Bangladesh. This 670 year old road is older than the famous Grand Trunk Road made by Sher Shah during the Mughal Era.
This road started in present day Bagerhat (which was known as Khalifatabad at that time) and went all the way to Chattogram through Jashore and Chandpur. This priceless wonder was discovered just two years back and already one kilometre has been excavated.
Now the road is called the Old Khan Jahan Ali road, named after the founder of this old city and the world heritage mosque. The real name will remain unknown until we find any antique inscription.
I have been to Bagerhat several times. The city of shrines and beautiful mosques always attracted me, but walking on this ancient road was new for me and it gave me goosebumps just by imagining who else travelled through this road in the past centuries!
The old road is easy to find; you just need to follow the road just by the famous Shat Gombuj mosque for a while and will see the name plate. Locals are also very cordial if you ask information about their heritages.
From the old road, a wide main road is back to the intersection known as Majar Mor, as it leads to the shrine of Khan Jahan Ali. The shrine is 600 years old, though you cannot see much history as it is always surrounded by the religious people and local khadims.
There are several bus services from Dhaka to Bagerhat. From Khulna, it is a one-hour journey. To travel locally, you can always hire auto-rickshaws. If anybody wants to stay and feel the ancient night, there are several good hotels in the city centre. It is possible to visit all the ancient places of Bagerhat in a single day, and it can be done economically if you plan well.
But next to the shrine is the famous Khanjali Lake, which was globally known thanks to the three marsh crocodiles living there, which were brought by Khan Jahan Ali. Known as Kala Pahar (male) and Dhola Pahar (female) and their offspring, the crocodiles were considered holy by the locals, and lived here until they died of old age.
This species is extinct in the wild in Bangladesh but the Crocodile Bank in Chennai, India, sent some marsh crocodiles as gifts to Bangladesh, and few of them are here in this large pond.
There is a historical mosque with nine domes just at one corner of the pond, which was also built by Khan Jahan Ali. After visiting there we went to see the World Heritage Site, Shat Gombuj Mosque.
This one has 81 domes and 60 columns. People come here all over the year and they seldom visit the rich museum in the mosque area. The museum has many valuable historical artefacts including a mud crocodile statue.
Behind the mosque is a very large pond named Ghora Dighi, which was once a habitat of crocodiles too but now only have fish and lotus, which is a pleasant sight.
Once you are out of the famous mosque area, just on the other side of the road you will find a small old mosque with a huge dome, called Singair Mosque. This style was pretty common in that era, so few mosques in Bagerhat with one large dome may look the same, but they all have unique architecture.
After the Singair Mosque we took the highway to Khulna for a few kilometres toward Barakpur. From there a narrow road led us to the Bibi Begni Mosque: the same one large dome mosque, and among a very few mosques named after a lady in Bangladesh.
The identity of Bibi Begni is still uncertain, some say she was a warrior of Khan Jahan Ali, some say she was his second wife. The locals helped us to open the gate.
From there we followed the nameplate directing to Chunakhola Mosque. It is beautifully decorated by terracotta bricks.
From Chunakhola Mosque, we drove to the village of Ronobijaypur. The single-dome mosque of Ronobijaypur has the largest dome in Bangladesh.
It was amazing to see so many similar looking, yet architecturally different structures in one place. Maximum tourists will leave without knowing them after just visiting the grand Shat Gombuj Mosque, which is a pity.
After that we visited a unique monument named as Sabekdanga monument named after the locality which was built by Khan Jahan Ali. It is neither a mosque, nor a temple, though locals believe that it was a prayer room used by the ruler.
It was nothing like the others we visited in Bagerhat. Beautifully decorated by terracotta walls, the inside is ornamented by lovely flowers, leaves etc.