Bara Katra an architectural relic of Dhaka city. It is situated to the south of Chawk Bazar close to the bank of the river buriganga.
Originally, the Katra enclosed a quadrangular courtyard
with 22 rooms on all of its four sides. Two gateways were erected, one
each on the north and south. The ruins consist of an edifice having a
river frontage. The southern wing of the structure was planned on a grand
scale and was marked with an elaborate three-storeyed gate containing
an octagonal central chamber. The remaining portion was two-storeyed and
encased by projected octagonal towers. The gateway structure is rectangular
in plan. It is lofty in height and its fronton is projected towards the
A tall alcove rising to the second storey reduces the mass of
this projection. The wall surface is relieved with panels that
are square as well as rectangular and that contain a variety of
decorations of four-centred, cusped, horseshoe and flat arches.
Above the apex of the alcove open the windows of the third storey.
Bara Katra, Dhaka
Under the alcove is the main arched entrance which leads
to the guardroom. Furthermore, as one passes through two successive archways,
one comes across an octagonal domed hall, the ceiling of which is plastered
and bears various net-patterns and foliaged designs. The double storeyed
structure resolves on both sides of the central entrance into a row of
five vaulted rooms in the ground floor and living rooms with a continuous
corridor on the upper one.
Likewise, the upper floors of the entrance are furnished
with rooms. The three storyed corner towers are hollow and can be approached
from the subsidiary structures.
Following the traditional pattern of the caravan-sarai
of Central Asia, the Bara Katra was highly fortified and was embellished
with all the features of the imperial Mughal style.
The Bara Katra contains two inscriptions in Persian: one records that it was built in 1053 AH (1643-44 AD) and the other contains the date 1055 AH (1645-46 AD) and confirms that shah shuja gave the building to Mir Abul Qasim to be used as a Katra on the condition that the officials in charge of the endowments (waqf) should not take any rent from any deserving person alighting therein.
It should be noted here that more than half of the Katra
building has already been destroyed and the building as a whole is in
a dilapidated condition. It could not be taken over by the Department
of Archaeology owing to the resistance of its owners. The owners have
made several alterations to the original character of the building and
have also started construction of a new multi-storeyed building in the
area. Nevertheless, the surviving ruins stand as one of the most important
monuments of Bengal. It is perhaps the most magnificent Mughal edifice
of Bangladesh which has a monumental central archway. [Ayesha Begum]