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Unknown jewel of Murshidabad – Footie Mosque

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Have you ever heard of an unfinished mosque of Murshidabad, whose architectural splendor can even beat the Hazar Duari Palace? Whose historical past is as exciting as that of the Battle of Plassey?

An incomplete construction that still stands with all its grandeur in the middle of the lost capital of Siraj-ud-daullah! A trip to the historic city of Nawabs – Royal Murshidabad, around 200 kilometres from Kolkata via NH34, located along the banks of the Ganga still retains the old-world charm of laid-back Tonga rides with the exciting ‘tip-tap’ foot-play of pony hoofs.

Every nook and corner of Murshidabad exudes the tenor of its rich cultural past. Be it the Hazar Duari Palace, Qila Nizamat, Motijheel, Katra Mosque, Imambara, Jahan Kosha, Wasef Manzil, Nach Mahal, Jafaraganj Cemetery, Siraj-ud-Daullah’s tomb at Khoshbag and the innumerable royal monuments spread across every nook and corner. However, the century-old incomplete Footie Mosque with a hole and a captivating story is one of the best kept secrets of Murshidabad’s tourism circuit.

The mosque also has an interesting name – it is called the Footie Masjid. Any tourist visiting Murshidabad will tell you hundreds of legends about the major palaces and cemeteries. However, hardly anyone would mention this mysterious piece of incomplete art. Kamarpur, where this mosque is located is about two and half kilometres to the east of Qila Nizamat and is believed to be one of the most haunted corners of Murshidabad. If completed, the mosque would have been one hundred thirty-five feet long and thirty-eight feet broad, the largest structure in Murshidabad. It was to be mounted by five domes – four at the corners and one in the middle. Plans were there for specially designed spiral staircases to the top of the cupolas at all four turrets which could be easily found from its entrance at the base. All the walls and stairs were constructed, but the ceiling of the three domes remained incomplete. Popular tales go that due to paranormal activities, workers refused to finish the work.

During 1740s, Nawab Sarfaraz Khan started the construction of this mosque with five thousand workers. They had been working day and night for the timely completion of the structure. Suddenly one-day the young Nawab paid a surprise visit to the site to check the progress. During his stopover, a master roll call was done by the site manager and an astonishing fact came out – from the first day onwards, there was a counting error for one extra labour whose wages were duly released every week, but no one knew him by his name. Upon such an enigmatic revelation, over the next month this absence was closely observed but again the same ghostly event was repeated! Nothing concrete could be inferred as such about the furtive presence of that unknown mason. News spread about the mysterious ghost mason and workers refused to work at the haunted place.

To avoid further delay, Nawab Sarfaraz Khan tried to spread a message saying he had solemnly pledged to complete the construction overnight to compete with his grandfather Nawab Murshid Quli Khan, who had built the famous Katra Masjid. But the mosque could not be finished overnight. Since then the mosque has been left unfinished and three out of five tomb ceilings appear like holes at a glance. Due to its partial creation, the mosque earned the uncanny name – Footie Masjid (meaning mosque with a hole).

If you happen to visit Footie Mosque and scale the spiral staircase to the top of the tomb turret, you will be welcomed to a breath-taking view of the surroundings with the Ganga flowing by silently.