Chawk Mosque,Murshidabad - a historical place of worship built by a woman, - Queen Munni Begum

Chawk Mosque, Murhidabad Wikimedia Commons

Chawk Mosque, Murhidabad, WB HelloTravel

Founded in 1767 AD by Munny Begum,  Queen consort of  Nawab Mir Zafar, who betrayed Nawab Siraj-ud-daulah and helped the East India company  lay its foundation in the Indian subcontinent,  The Chawk Mosque or Chawk Masjid is a popular tourist spot and was equally a popular  place of worship in this part of Nawabi territory.  Earlier this place  was the site of  "Chahel Sutan", the city's hall, a sort of darbar hall with forty pillar. It was constructed by   Nawab Murshid Quli Khan to meet his subjects.

Munni Begum built the Masjid in 1767 AD  under the supervision of Shaikh Khalilallah and is located in the Nizamat Fort Area near the Hazarduari Palace, Murshidabad, West Bengal. The other nearby grand  buildings  bear testimony to the opulence and the exalted status of the powerful Nawabi royal families of those days.
The mosque at Motijhil, 1801 (picture taken by C.B. Asher)Wikipedia
Munny Begum, haling from a poor family near Agra had her early beginning in a dance troupe. Being intelligent and good-looking, when the dance troupe stayed in Murshidabad, she won the attention of Mir Jafar, Chief of the Nawab's army and became part the harem. Subsequently, she became the queen consort of Nawab Mir Jafar.  Being shrewd  and well-versed in running the kingdom, she had a good rapport with Robert Clive and later with Warren Hastings of EIC. Never had she failed to shower lavish gift on them worthy of their status in the company and  in turn she received several gifts from them and others; one being a palanquin which could accommodate 30 people from Rani Bhavani. Munny Begum received Rs.12000.00 a month and had her allowances separately assigned.  Therefore, she was referred to as  a 'Gaddinashin Begum' who received a large amount of allowance from the royal family. As she came from a poor family, she knew what poverty was all about. Naturally, she became a woman of charitable disposition  and  equally she gave several donations and gifts to  the East India Company and their servants  and it was a subject of heated  discussion on the corridors of the royal residence.  As she was always in the good book of the English Company, they upon her death, gave her a salute corresponding to the number of years of her age. It shows how EIC had held her in great esteem  as she was always viewed with cordial regard for her consideration to the company's business activities in Bengal. Hence, during the Nawabi rule, the mosque was given due importance.
A map of the full Nizamat Fort Campus ,Murshidabad, WBIPFS
It is an impressive Mosque accentuated by five big domes. It  has two chau-chala-end-vaults at the two corners at the side of the mosque. The exterior and the interior of the mosque are lavishly decorated with motifs, panels and so on. The  ornamental  arched shaped niches in stucco and  motifs further enhance the beauty of this mosque.  The grand mosque can be accessed by five arched gates. It is surrounded by numerous shops (hence the name  "Chawk". - meaning shopping place /market, often in square shape surrounding it; it is is the main  market  in Murshdabad. 

Though this mosque usually remains closed throughout the year, it is  opened during festival times like ike Eid-ul Zoha, Eid ul-Fitr and also for public prayers.