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Kherur, the mosque with terracotta art
Terracotta art as temple decoration is fairly common in medieval Bengal. However, in medieval Bengal, terracotta decoration mosques was not so common. One such rare example of a mosque extensively decorated with terracotta art is present at KHERUR village near Sagardighi of Murshidabad district of West Bengal.
Kherur is about 40 km from Baharampur, the district headquarters of Murshidabad .
You can go to Kherur along the NH-34 (National Highway number 34) from Baharampur or Kolkata. Just few kilometers from the important junction of Morgram on the NH-34, there is a non-descriptive crossing called “Seikh Dighir Mor” from where a dirt track has gone all the 5 km to Kherur.
The track, very inconvenient for vehicular travel, passes through some most beautiful rural landscapes with green fields on all sides stretching to the horizon. Some exotic birds can be seen if you are lucky.
As you approach the small village of Kherur, the looming structure of the mosque, distinct from the thatched houses of the village will attract the eyes
The mosque is situated on the top of a low mound which has a dilapidated fencing erected by the Archeological department of the government.
On the entrance a sign-board boldly declares that this is a protected monument, & another narrates its history in short as “This single domed brick built mosque with a square prayer chamber & a verandah on the front was erected in the reign period of Alauddin Hussain Shah” in AD 1494.
Actually, this mosque was erected by Muazum Rifat Khan in 900 Hizri (1494-95 A.D.) during the reign of Sultan Alauddin Hussain Shah.
Also a visitor will see three domes instead of the “single” one. The reason is very simple. The main or central dome has been destroyed by the ravage of time, only the three smaller domes on the front verandah remain.
As a whole, the total structure is on the verge of total collapse, with cracks & fissures appearing here & there.
Inside, the Mihrab is partially destroyed, but on one side of the Mihrab, there is an intact vault like structure with intact arches.
The structure was originally supported with stone pillars, & those are intact.
But the most attractive thing is the intricate terracotta works adorning every available place on the walls & arches.
In contrast to Hindu temples where one can see human & animal figures depicted in terracotta, here as per Islamic tradition human or animal figures are totally absent. In stead, here the terracotta works consist of floral & geometric designs, & believe me, those are of the highest caliber.
The inside, the outside, the front & the back of the mosque are all covered with terracotta motifs. It was an exciting sight.
However, the state of the mosque should be immediately looked upon by experts in preservation of such decaying structures, otherwise this 516 year-old heritage structure will be no more in few years.