The Adina Mosque (14th C), Pandua, West Bengal - once the largest mosque in the Indian subcontinent - mind-boggling structure!!

Adina Mosque,Pandua, West Bengal
The Adina Mosque, the largest mosque in the Indian subcontinent then,  was built by  Sikandar Shah, second Sultan of the Ilyas Shahi dynasty of the Bengal Sultanate.   He constructed it in 1373  in Pandua, then capital city  as a royal mosque in the Bengal Sultanate.  During the introduction of Islam in India the hypo style of the Umayyad Mosque  was taken as a model and Adina mosque is no exception to it. During their hey day after they crushed the  powerful Delhi Sultanate twice in 1353 and 1359, the rulers had a plan to expand the sultanate, However, their plan did not materialise and the  sultanate  became disintegrated during the16th  century with the rise of the Mogul Empire with capital in Delhi. 

The central mihrab of the mosque
The impressive aspect of this old mosque is its beautiful design that is similar to the Great Mosque of Damascus. Here, it  blends  Bengali, Arab, Persian and Byzantine architecture. Built with brick and stone, it had a rectangular hypo style structure with an open courtyard.  The structure measured 172 by 97 m. had several domes  and the  western wall brings out the imperial style of pre-Islamic Sassanian Persia - ie, the monumental ribbed barrel vault over the central nave. It was  the first such huge vault built in the subcontinent reminiscent of  Sassanian style. The mosque consciously  imitated Persianate imperial grandeur.

Adina Mosque,Pandua, West Bengal.

Above image: Arches and columns in the interior of Adina Mosque. The elevated platform was the royal gallery where the Sultan prayed......................................

The prayer hall is five aisles deep, whereas  the north, south and east cloisters around the courtyard consist of triple aisles. In total, these aisles had 260 pillars  that supported the 387 domed bays. Indeed a great architectural feat. The interior of the courtyard has  92 arches surmounted by a parapet, beyond which the domes of the bays can be seen. The interior elevated platform was built to serve as  the gallery of the Sultan and his officials. Despite the age, it still  exists. The Sultan's tomb chamber is attached with the western wall.
 Adina Mosque, Pandua,
The following are some of the  important facts about  the Adina Mosque, Pandua, W. Bengal:

 Adina Mosque, Pandua, WB

01. The mosque was built in the historic capital city of the sultanate.
02. Pandua, a cosmopolitan trading center during that period. A walled city with well-arranged streets and bazaars. and  marketplaces. One could get many  goods, including six varieties of muslin and four types of wine. There were  eateries,  drinking houses and bathing areas. Alcohol was not served in the royal court.

03.The mosque  is  near the border with Bangladesh.

04. The builder of the mosque Sikandar Shah had a good name and had  lofty titles such as "the exalted Sultan" and "Caliph of the Faithful". 
Adina Mosque, Pandua, WB
Adina Mosque, Pandua, WB
05. The mosque included: Exterior facade of the mosque, Central prayer hall, An elephant carving on the stone wall Tomb of Sultan Sikandar Shah.

06. The mosque was designed mainly to express  the kingdom's imperial ambitions after its two victories against the Delhi Sultanate in the 14th century.

07. Encyclopedia Iranica has mentioned  the mosque's construction material included stone from Bengali temples.  A few parts of the mosque's exterior wall in some parts have carvings like elephants and dancing figures- a typical Hindu temple feature.  

08. Historians believe  the builders might have used stone from pre-Islamic structures or  the mosque itself was built on the site of a pre-existing ruin.

09. The sultan's tomb chamber attached to the wall is facing the direction of Mecca.

10. Remnant of the former royal capital that still stands is the Eklakhi Mausoleum is yet another  remnant of the former royal capital.  Remnants of the palace, including floral carvings, can be seen in Pandua's raised mounds.

11. The mosque in the 19th century, was damaged by earthquakes. Later it fell into disuse.  Pandua became an ordinary place.