Saturday, July 16, 2011

Atala Masjid




The Atala Masjid stands on the site of a Hindu temple of Atala Devi. It was built in 1408 by Sultan Ibrahim (1401-1440), Sharqi Sultan of Jaunpur on foundations laid during the reign of Tughluqid Sultan Firuz Shah III (1351-1388). A large number of its pillars, brackets, lintels and flat ceilings were extracted from Hindu monuments. 
The mosque complex consists of a long rectangular prayer hall that opens onto a large square courtyard to the west. The courtyard is enveloped by a two-story veranda on the exterior that are used by merchants and visitors. It is entered from three domed gates facing north, east and west. 



Inside, the courtyard is enveloped by a three-bay deep double-story colonnade on three sides. The screened upper story was most likely reserved for women. 
The mosque occupies the western side of the courtyard; its facade is marked by an imposing central portal -- close to twenty-three meters tall -- flanked by secondary portals. Its plan is centered around a tall domed sanctuary behind the central portal, with two long three-bay deep galleries to the north and south. 

The dome of the main sanctuary is carried on squinches. Although it is raised on an octagonal drum, it is still not visible from the courtyard due to the imposing height of the entry iwan, a distinctive element of Jaunpuri architecture. Inside the sanctuary is stone mihrab niche with a ribbed semi-dome, flanked by the stone minbar. The decoration consists mainly of carved floral patterns. The gallery wings have two-floors and are centered around domed rooms with a mihrab and courtyard entrance. Their flat ceilings are supported on twin columns and beams resting on brackets. The three domed rooms of the prayer hall project beyond the qibla wall, with tapering turrets bracing their corners in the manner of Delhi's Tughluqid architecture. 
The entire construction of the mosque is in gray sandstone and granite. 

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