Monday, October 11, 2010

A Mausoleum of 3 Heroes & a Mosque at the Suhrawardy Udyan (Dhaka)

There was one place in Dhaka where I took the time to sit back, relax and soak in the peaceful atmosphere around me – the Mausoleum of 3 Heroes (Tin Netar Mazar) at the Suhrawardy Udyan which is a national monument in Dhaka. The sprawling compound used to be a British military club, but at the end of the colonial rule, transformed into the Ramna Race Course.

I did ask Mafuz, my guide, the significance of the place. He told me it was where 3 of their national heroes were laid to rest. He didn’t elaborate, but I actually wanted to know what made them larger-than-life heroes. The undulating shell-like architecture of the mausoleum is such a feast on the eyes.

Tin Netar Mazar - Mausoleum of 3 Heroes


I walked around the whole structure before checking out the individual tombs which looked similar. Who were these heroes- A.K. Fazlul Huq, Khwaja Nazimuddin and Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy.

A.K. Fazlul Huq was a popular Bengali statesman in the first half of the 20th century. He was often referred to as “Sher-e-Bangla” (Tiger of Bengal) and held several positions (including the 1st muslim mayor of Calcutta). With the partition of Pakistan from India, Pakistan was further divided into West and the East (aka Bangladesh) where Huq was Advocate General.

Khwaja Nazimuddin is a Dacca-born Bengali who was educated in Cambridge (and even knighted in England). Upon his return to his country, he rose into the ranks that ultimately “crowned” him the 2nd Prime Minister of Pakistan, prior to the independence of Bangladesh.

Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy was a Bengal politician prior to the division of India. When Pakistan was born, like the khwaja, he rose into the ranks and became the 5th Prime Minister of Pakistan. He would also found the political organization that would eventually become the Awami League.

Dacca-born local heroes: A.K. Fazlul Huq, Khwaja Nazimuddin and Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy


A stone’s throw from the mausoleum is an earth-colored structure with lovely domes. It was a mosque. Its eye-catching architecture competes with the mausoleum’s radical curves. After sitting down the marble steps to catch my breath, I headed towards the mosque. Its name is Hazrat Haji Khwaji Shahbaz Mosque and Darga Sharif.

I stepped closer from the side where I saw some men lying down the platform outside. I saw an inscription that says this “darga sharif” (tomb) and “mosque” was built by a merchant prince of Dhaka in 1679, during the viceroyalty of Prince Muhammad Azam. His name was Khwaja Shahbaz. I recalled some photos during my readings showing the mosque bearing a laundry line, and that someone seemed to reside in the mosque, which is a disappointing fact. How are you going to preserve something that existed 331 years ago if you’re gonna reside in it? But then, it isn’t my country; so who am I to say?

This is the Eye in the Sky.

Hazrat Haji Khwaja Shahbaz Mosque circa 1679. A merchant prince's mosque.

Mosque entrance.

Darga Sharif - Khwaja Shahbaz's Tomb

Just outside the Udyan compound, there was a crew filming. Check out our separate post about this scene.

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