|Katra Mosque - Murshidabaden. West Bengal wikipedia.org|
|Nawab Murshid Quli Khan. en.wikipedia.org|
Murshidabad, in the state of West Bengal, India is a paradise for tourist and old monuments freaks. Among the many attractions the one that draws our attention is the the grave and the mortal remains of Nawab Murshid Quli Khan.
The Katra Masjid, also referred to as Katra Mosque, is the place where the tomb of the Nawab lies. Built between 1723 and 1724, it is being managed by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the Government of West Bengal. It is considered as a major center of Islamic learning. Being close to the bazaar, it is called Katra Masjid; Katra meaning bazaar while Masjid meaning mosque. Simply, Mosque in the market.
|Early 19th-century view of the Katra Mosque.en.wikipedia.org|
|katra mosque of murshidabad,1723 AD.en.wikipedia.org|
The four big minars that stand at the four corners of the structure enhance the beauty of this simple structure which does not have any characteristic embellishment. The minars are octagonal in plan and taper upwards. Those two minarets in front of the mosque are 70 feet high and 25 feet in diameter. The arcaded mosque stands on a raised platform. Being devoid of pillars in the entire mosque, the weight of the structure is borne by the well- built arches.
This mosque being rectangular in plan has a dimension of 45.5m X 7.32m and has five bays, each having an arched entrance and the central one is the most prominent one with a slender turret. The mosque had five domes. Some of them were destroyed and others survived the devastating earthquake of 1897, which almost destroyed most of the building. The total area of the mosque including the surrounding places is 19.5 acres. It can accommodate 2000 Namaz readers, that is the reason one can find 2000 square-shaped mats depicted on the floor, each of them used by a single Namaz reader.
As mentioned earlier, the cells in the mosque are two storied and are 20 feet square. each with 6 arched doorways. 15 steps edged with stones lead up to the gate with 5 arches on either sides and a stone paved pathway which leads to the central door of the mosque. The open spaces between these cells and the mosque are 13 feet wide on either sides and 42 feet wide at the back of the mosque. the terrace in front of the mosque is 166 feet by 110 feet.
The mosque can be accessed through a flight of stairs (14 in number) and the mortal remains of Nawab Murshid Quli Khan are right below the stairs. Normally one would find the tomb in the center of the building preferably below the ground level. Perhaps, it may be perplexing as to why the Nawab had his tomb constructed right below the steps. There is a reason for it and the explanation given is quite amazing. It simply brings out the humility of the Nawab who repented his past misdeeds. Being repentant for his past sins, he wanted to be buried in a place where he could feel the touch and foot print of the noble men who climbed those stairs and entered the mosque. He died in 1725 and since then his tomb has been very much there under the stairs. In the mosque there is an epitaph on the slab embedded at the top. It is written in Arabic: "Muhammad, the Arabian, the glory of both worlds. Dust be on the head of him who is not the dust of his portal".