Star Mosque is still Glittering
According to Islamic Foundation Bangladesh, there are 6,000 mosques in Dhaka city. That is why Dhaka is called the city of mosques. One of the traditional and famous and aesthetic mosques of Bangladesh is the Star Mosque (Tara Masjid) in Armanitola, Old Dhaka. Influenced by the Mughal architectural style, the aesthetically pleasing Star Mosque is now a popular tourist destination in Dhaka city.
When was Star Mosque built?
The nearly two-century-old Star Mosque has undergone occasional changes and renovations. No dated inscriptions were found on the original structure of Star Mosque. As far as is known, the ancestor of Mirza Golam Pir, the builder of the mosque, came to Dhaka and settled in ‘Mahalla Ale Abu Sayyid’ or present day Armanitola. Star Mosque is also known as ‘Mirza Saheber Masjid’ as it was built by Mirza Golam Pir. Mirza Ghulam Pir died in 1860, so the mosque appears to have been built in the early nineteenth century.
Construction, Expansion and Decoration of Star Mosque
During construction, the length and width of Star Mosque were 33 and 12 feet, respectively. The rectangular mosque was roofed with 3 white circular domes inlaid with blue stars, later two more domes were added. The whole mosque is decorated with star motifs, which attract special attention. It is for this special design that the mosque came to be known as Star Mosque (Tara Masjid). The mosque has 3 doors on the east, 1 on the north and 1 on the south, for entry and exit.
Ali Jan Bepari, a local businessman, started the renovation work of Star Mosque in 1926. The mosque was then extended to the east to form a verandah, and mosaicized using colored porcelain and glass.
Then in 1986, the historic Tara Masjid was renovated again. Then, the old Mihrab of the mosque was demolished and 3 new Mihrabs were built instead. At the same time, two more domes were added on the roof of Star Mosque, and the walls were adorned with moons, stars, floral motifs and Arabic calligraphy. Thus, the current length-width of the expanded mosque is 70 and 26 feet respectively.
The mosque is decorated in a special way with a combination of porcelain plates, cups and small and large pieces of glass of various colors. This method is called chini-tikri, which is one of the features of Mughal architectural style. Similar features can be seen in the mosque of Kasaituli in Dhaka.
The walls and roofs of this mosque are adorned with subtle carvings and colorful flower-leaf and moon-star designs. The blue stars above the bright white marble set the mosque apart from all other mosques.
How to get to Star Mosque
Star Mosque is located in Armanitola, Old Dhaka. To visit Star Mosque from anywhere in Dhaka city, you first need to go to Chankharpul area of Old Dhaka. With a rickshaw from Chankharpul, you can easily reach Star Mosque in Armanitola. Rickshaws may cost around 30 Taka.
Where to Eat
Old Dhaka has a special tradition for food. You can choose your food items from Al-Razzaq, Hajir Biryani, Kashmiri Kachchi, Beauty Boarding or Sultan’s Tea.