Grand Mosque of Mehboob Jo Bungalow

Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro on the magnificent structure built by Ghulam Muhammad Sangi in the Talpur period

Grand Mosque of Mehboob Jo Bungalow
Kamber-Shahdadkot district is home to many historical mosques which are believed to have been built during the Kalhora, Talpur and British periods.  One such impressive mosque is located in Mehboob Jo Bungalow village,  which is situated about 8 km southeast of Miro Khan town, in Kamber-Shahdadkot district. This mosque is believed to have been built by Ghulam Muhammad Sangi.

During the era of Talpur rule, many tribes inhabited Mehboob Jo Bungalow village but the Sangis were in majority. Sangis are a sub-caste of the Abra tribe. They were landlords and owned much land in neighbouring areas. They are still influential landlords in the area. One Muhammad Fazal Khan Sangi was famous for his generosity. According to local accounts, after every Friday prayer, he used to distribute money amongst the needy and fed the hungry. He dug several wells for the poor to fetch water. After his death, his son Ghulam Muhammad Khan Sangi became new Zamindar (landlord) of the village. Like his father, he was also a generous, compassionate and kindhearted person.

Painting work in the Jamia Mosque, Mehboob Jo Bungalow

Ghulam Muhammad Khan Sangi was a pious person and laid the foundation of the Jamia mosque in 1835. For the construction of the mosque, he gathered celebrated masons and artisans of Sindh. The celebrated artisan of the Talpur period Muhammad Hashim Kashigar decorated the façade of the mosque with tiles. The construction of the mosque started in the following year and was completed in a short span of three years in 1838. The mosque attracted a large number of visitors from far-flung areas who came to see the marvellous building and exalt the builder who had so lavishly spent on the mosque.

The mosque is contemporaneous to Hamid Huzori mosque in Miro Khan town which was built by Hamid Huzori Tunio. But the mosque of Hamid Huzori does not have as many embellishments when compared to the Jamia Mosque of Mehboob Jo Bungalow. The latter is, on the whole, a far grander building.

Tomb of Ghulam Muhammad Sangi

There at least 26 three-domed mosques found in various talukas of Larkana and Kamber Shahdadkot districts. Prominent amongst these are Gathar and Mehboob Wagan mosques in Wagan town, Kot Lal Mahesar Mosque in Miro Khan, Jamia Mosque in Gebi Dero, Pir Jo Goth mosque in the village of the same name, Gul Muhammad Khuhawar, Khandu, Maluk Shah, Bisharat Kalhoro, Gahi Khan Chandio and Khuda Baksh Sial mosques in Warah, Arzi Bhutto and Mirpur Bhutto mosques in Rato Dero, Noor Muhammad Kalhoro Mosque in Gerello, Noor Muhammad Shaikh Mosque in Kamber Ali Khan etc. But the Jamia Mosque of Mehboob Jo Bungalow has no parallel in terms of architecture in both districts. The colour scheme of the mosque is superior as compared to the work done on other mosques in both districts.

The mosque has three domes, of which two domes are rendered in a ribbed style. The interior of the mosque is adorned with paintings while the exterior is decorated with glazed tiles, for which vertical panels were created to depict floral designs. The mosque is a real prototype of the one built at Halani by Mehrab Khan Jatoi, who served as a minister during the rule of Mian Abdul Nabi Kalhoro (1776-1783).
The celebrated artisan of the Talpur period Muhammad Hashim Kashigar decorated the façade of the mosque with tiles

The main entrance of the mosque is crowned with a dome which is aesthetically adorned with floral designs. Three entrances that lead to the main prayer hall of the mosque are painted. Stylized vases decorate the northern and southern walls of the mosque. Although there are several historical mosques of the Kalhora and Talpur periods in Larkana district, the paintings in this mosque more elaborate and refined.

Near the mosque is the huge tomb of Ghulam Muhammad Sangi. It is believed to have been built by Ghulam Muhammad during his own lifetime. One does not find such an impressive tomb in the whole Kamber-Shahdadkot district. The distinctive feature of the tomb is the glazed tiles that decorate the façade of the structure.

View of the mosque complex from the north

Restored panel on the facade of the mosque

Apart from the grave of Ghulam Muhammad Sangi, the tomb also contains nine other graves. The father of Ghulam Muhammad, Muhammad Fazal Khan Sangi, is also buried in the tomb. The tomb is built in a square plan with each side of it crowned with kiosks. The tomb is in a very bad state of preservation: its dome is badly cracked and the drum on which the dome rests is fast falling to pieces.

At present, the mosque is also in a state of disrepair. Some amount of money was granted by former Prime Minister Shaheed Benazir Bhutto when she visited the mosque in 1995. As soon as the grant was received, restoration work on the mosque started in 1996. Two masons Muhammad Yaqoob Memon of Moro town and Ghulam Nabi mason of Nasirabad town were hired to work on the mosque. Muhammad Yaqoob Memon was a celebrated painter; and aside from painting the exterior panels, he also restored one of the domes to its original form. Muhammad Yaqoob Memon also restored the original beauty of the panels. The glazed tiles of the lower part of the panels had fallen to the ground but he painted the lower part in order to synchronize with the upper part of the panel. Meanwhile Ghulam Nabi Masan renovated two other domes and the southern wall of the mosque, which was damaged. He also restored the paintings of the domed ceiling.

View of a stylized floral vase in the mosque

Locals hold that Ghulam Muhammad Sangi had fixed a small golden jar into the wall of the mosque, thinking that after his death renovation of the mosque should not be hampered by lack of money. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, after his death, somebody took the golden jar away!

Last year, the villagers collected some money from well-to-do families of Mehboob Jo Bungalow and renovated some portions of the mosque. The authorities concerned should help the villagers to renovate the crumbling tomb of Ghulam Muhammad Sangi, which has never been renovated since its construction.

The writer is an anthropologist. He can be contacted

The author is an anthropologist. He tweets at: @Kalhorozulfiqar