Masjid Bahagian Kuching also known as Masjid Bandaraya Kuching. Masjid Bandaraya Kuching is the main mosque in Kuching, Sarawak, which had served as the state mosque before a new mosque was built in Petra Jaya. Its design is based on the modular modern vernacular typology that was formulated in the 1960s by the Public Works Department (JKR). The current structure was completed in 1968, but its historical background can be traced as far back as in 1840. The mosque’s site is believed to be among the oldest mosques in Kuching. It was founded by a local leader appointed by the Brunei Sultanate known as a Pangeran. The small mosque stood on a hill near the river. It existed long before the arrival of the White Rajah of Sarawak, James Brooke. At that time, it was just a rudimentary vernacular structure set on a hill along the banks of the Sarawak River.
The location of the mosque is unique as it was built along the banks overlooking the Sarawak River, and is also at the edge of the town centre, near many centuries-old shop houses and a commercial area. As the town grew over the years, it became the focal point of the city. It is truly a city mosque that completes the composition of the fabric of a former colonial town. During the days when Kuching flourished as one of the main trading towns in Borneo, it served as the administrative town of Sarawak and parts of Borneo. As there was a large population of Muslims living in the area, the town needed a bigger mosque. The Malay leader at that time, Dato’ Patinggi Ali, helped to establish a fund drive in 1847. A bigger mosque was built later with Dato’ Patinggi Hj Abdul Gapur was appointed as the first Imam.
Further modifications were later carried out in 1880 when modern construction materials were readily available in Kuching, including bricks and cement. It saw the construction of new concrete building and floor materials. In 1932, with the help of the Raja Brooke government and the local Malay leaders, a high drum-pointed dome was added on top of the roof. The dome sits on an elevated base with clerestory windows. During that time, it was regarded as a landmark of Kuching, located majestically along the banks of the Sarawak River. In the 1950s, there was a demand to have a bigger mosque in Kuching town. A fund-raising drive was again initiated and in 1966, the first stone foundation was laid by the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman. He suggested a new mosque to be built instead of modifying the current mosque. Through him, the Federal Government injected additional money for the mosque’s construction.
The current mosque’s architecture was formulated in the 1960s and features a main central onion- shaped dome of Mughal influence. It is flanked with four smaller domes which sit on an open elevated place. It has no detached minaret; instead, there are six smaller attached minarets, each surmounted with cupolas and onion-shaped domes. The mosque’s building is completed with modern-style crenellations on the parapet wall with a series of moon-crescent finials on top of its pilasters. The main central onion-shaped dome is made out of lightweight metal in golden yellow colour that is used to indicate the main prayer hall. The large onion-shaped dome is also used to express the importance or grandeur of the structure as compared to its surroundings. At the front is a pavilion linked to the main entrance, with a modernist approach dome, perched on a terrazzo-clad platform with three leading steps, up to the main prayer hall, and two more steps to the upper female prayer gallery. The interior space is passively lit with natural lighting through glass windows and louvered blocks. The qibla front wall is marked with a blind arch featuring repetitive names of Allah prescribed on a teak wood tile. It is also where the mihrab niche is located, and a timber minbar platform placed to its right.