413-year-old Atia Mosque needs urgent renovation
Over four hundred years old Atia Mosque, one of the important archaeological sites in the country, located in Tangail's Delduar upazila has been in a dilapidated condition for long due to lack of care and maintenance.
Built in the early 17th century, the 413-year-old mosque has already lost much of its grandeur, thanks to the negligence of the authorities concerned.
Besides, the ornamental terracotta plaques on the nine-feet-wide walls of the ancient mosque already wearied away.
The thick walls of the mosque also got discoloured while some of its bricks are damaged.
Mawlana Mozammel Haque, imam of the mosque, said lack of care and renovation work have resulted in wearing away of many terracotta plaques of the mosque while the unique decorations of the mosque are falling off.
He, however, said a number of visitors, both locals and outsiders, come to visit the mosque every day.
A group of students from Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University were visiting the year-old mosque when this correspondent went to the ancient site recently.
Expressing his frustration, one of the students Raihanul Islam said they were looking for a board that contains history of the mosque, but found only a plaque containing names of the founder and others who repaired it.
According to the officials of Department of Archaeology and local historians, the then Zamindar of Atia, Syed Khan Pannee, had built the mosque on the bank of Louhajang river in 1609.
He received Atia Paragana from the Mughal Emperor Jahangir as a gift in the beginning of the 17th century.
The mosque is located next to the shrine of Hazrat Shahan Shah, who came to Atia from Kashmir in 913 Hijri along with his 49 followers to preach Islam in the region. Their graves are near the mosque.
The mosque was badly damaged in the devastating earthquake of 1800.
Later, Rowshan Khatoon Chowdhurani, a female merchant from Delhi, restored the damaged mosque in 1837.
The Zamindar of Delduar Abu Ahmed Ghuznavi Khan in cooperation with Wazed Ali Khan Pannee and other Zamindars repaired it again in 1909.
The Department of Archaeology took over the responsibility of the historic mosque in 1978 and put up a notice board in front of the ancient site that says it is a government property and legal actions would be taken if anyone harms the mosque.
However, no initiative has been taken to restore the mosque or protect the structure.
Mohammad Zahid, a resident of Atia village, said villagers along with local administration had tried to take steps to protect the historical mosque on several occasions, but Department of Archaeology told them not to do so.
Caretaker of the mosque Syed Monirul Haque said the worn out mosque was partially repaired in 2000 and in 2009.
Local resident Shakil Ahmed said the beautiful mosque is now on the verge of ruination and we urge the authorities concerned to take necessary steps to save the structure.
Rakhi Roy, regional director of Department of Archaeology (Dhaka and Mymensingh Divisions), said they will hold renovation work of the mosque next year.