Established in 1868 by Daroga Aminuddin Ahmed, Doleshwar Hanafia Jame Masjid in Keraniganj feels like an image from a reel exhibiting Islamic heritage and architecture.
The mosque, popularly known as "Daroga Masjid" among locals, was renovated in 2018 by architect Dr Abu Sayeed Mostaque Ahmed, with an aim to preserve its heritage and originality.
Recently, it has piqued everyone's curiosity upon receiving international recognition for its skilful conservation.
Over the years
Doleshwar Hanafia Jame Masjid sanctuary has gone through a series of transitions.
Moiz Uddin Ahmed, son of Aminuddin Ahmed, was reportedly the first patron of the Mosque. After that, Khidir Baksh and Kader Baksh, two of Moiz Uddin's relatives, continued looking after the Mosque.
In 1968, Kader Baksh's grandson, former lawmaker Hamidur Rahman, expanded the Mosque further and built its minaret. Later, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid, son of Hamidur Rahman, took initiative to restore the mosque, keeping the main infrastructure intact.
With the rapid increase of the area's population, local people insisted on the mosque's renovation and expansion. However, the mosque received kind consideration from Nasrul who decided to refurbish the structure, keeping tradition, cultural heritage, and values intact.
Hence, he gave responsibility to a Bangladesh-based architect and architectural conservation specialist Dr Mostaque Ahmed to renovate the mosque and construct another mosque adjacent to the Hanafia Jame Masjid so that more locals can fit in.
Doleshwar Hanafia Jame Masjid is located in Keraniganj, just outside the city belt. As a result, the mosque is adorned with greenery.
The mosque's architecture radiates an aura of Pre Mughal and Mughal architecture. The structure includes two big central domes and several adjacent pinnacles on the edges.
The mosque had been enlarged three times in the past. The front's balcony area is a product of the third enlargement. The establishment's total area is not very big; only about 80 people can congregate at a time inside the mosque.
"The project's main challenge was the research and development part. We spent a generous amount of time studying the details and formulating the process of conserving them. For example, when I got the project, the entrance door was missing. So, before setting up a new door, I had to research a lot about the door designs predominantly prevalent in that era," said Dr Mostaque Ahmed.
The adjacent area surrounding the mosque is covered with permeable pavers that encourage grass growth and facilitate water drainage through the soil as well.
The mosque's interior and exterior are earthen red. The mosque's details, which are also known as ornaments, are coloured in white, which displays an aesthetically pleasing contrast.
"We maintained the mosque's original colour and exterior texture. No artificial colour was used during the renovation. Instead, we used a dyed chalk solution which was mixed with the plaster materials," said the architect.
Moreover, Dr Mostaque Ahmed wanted to retain the land's original landscape. As a result, the mosque is situated in a low relief compared to the surrounding area.
Architectural historic preservation has been used as a means to express or represent national, cultural, and even ethnic identity. It is often linked to tourism and hospitality.
On December 1, Doleshwar Hanafia Jame Masjid received the "Award of Merit" at the 2021 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.
Since 2000, the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation programme has been recognising the efforts of private individuals and organisations in restoring, conserving, and transforming structures and buildings of distinct heritage value in the region.
The award programme encourages other property owners to undertake conservation projects within their communities, either independently or by seeking public-private partnerships
This year, a jury of heritage experts honoured nine projects from six countries, including Bangladesh, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, and Thailand.