LALBAGH FORT MOSQUE

 

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Another main attraction of the complex is the mosque which stands about 170 feet from the tomb of Pari Bibi. As per history, the mosque was constructed by Prince Azam around 1679, probably to use at is a prayer site for the residents of the fort. It has to be mentioned that Prince Azam was supposed to be betrothed to Pari Bibi.

ARCHITECTURAL PATTERN:

The basic of the mosque is the oblong 3-domed shape, measuring 65’x33’, stands at the back of an elevated platform. It has four octagonal corner minarets covered with plaster kiosks, and the eastern walls or façade are pierced with 3 arched openings, of which the central one is bigger than the other two, and framed within slightly projected rectangular fronton and flanked by willowy minarets.

All the three openings are set below multi-cusped arches with soffit of their half domes, relieved in plaster network. The entire outer surfaces of the walls are profusely relieved with plastered panels and the cornice decorated with battlemented cresting. Of the three inverted cup-shaped domes, the central one and springs form an octagonal drum. The flanking domes are slightly bulbous in shape, but beautifully fluted with basal leaf design.

Recently, a patch of plaster from the apical underside of the central and northern domes peeled off when the Department of Archaeology was carrying out annual maintenance work. It exposed, to the surprise of the repairers, beautiful floral paintings under the later encrustation of plaster work.

There are two inscriptions incised on plaster inside the mosque, one of which reads: Allah, Muhammad, Abu Bakr, Umar, Usman, Ali 1059 A.M./1649 A.D. “Muhammad of Arabia is held in great esteem in both worlds. One who is not the dust of his doorsteps, dust be upon his head.” The second one reads: “Allah, Muhammad, Abu Bakr, Umar, Usman, Ali, may Allah forgive its writer Abd-al-Kabir. An earth on which is the footprint shall be a place of prostration to the onlookers for the years to come.”

PRESENT CONDITION:

Lalbagh’s situation started to decline due to the unexpected departure of Nawab Shaista Khan, and later it became an abandoned place when the capital was shifted to Mushidabad in 1717. After the liberation war of 1971, the government took the responsibility of salvaging of whatever was left of the complex. However, the mosque was excluded from this project, because even though the whole complex was abandoned, the local residents would still say their daily prayers in that mosque, and maybe for that reason, the mosque survived better than the rest of the structures inside the complex. Still some of the designs of the ceiling and the Mihrab are in the shapes that it was in the earlier stages. Even today, people still go to the mosque that has managed to survive over 300 years of time.

 

 

 

 

 

Residence, Audience Hall and Hammam

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After that you have visited the tomb of Pari bibi, the next is you will see in the complex is the hammamkhana.  Standing a distance of 130 feet from the western bank of the tank, it is a graceful double-storied building with a projected domical annex to its west. This is reputed to be the residence, audience hall and hammam belonging to Nawab Shaista Khan.

ARCHITECTURAL PATTERN:

The hammamkhana follows the same construction process as the tomb. The ground floor of this elegant building consists of a central hall, measuring 26’-7”x18’-3”, flanked on either side by a square apartment. It has three arched entrances on east was provided with an ornamental oblong flank in the middle with a fountain in it. Across the fountain on western massive wall an arched entrance, opening under a half-dome gives access to the main hammam and toilet complex flagged with glassy hexagonal tiles and provided with water heating systems and changing rooms.

A narrow passage between the two half domes on either sides, leads to a cruciform large hall with rectangular alcoves on four cardinal sides (about 10’-5”x12-3”), forming four arms, each covered with a half dome which are relieved on the soffit with beautiful geometric fret work in plaster. Similar works could be seen in the ventilating aperture of domed roof of the central hall.

Along with the main cruciform  hall four small rooms (9’-5”x9’-0” and 10’-5”x12’-3”) have been added between the arms of the cross, of which the top left being a changing room; top right a heating room with an oven in the middle, to the bottom left, a toilet and to the bottom right, a tank with steps for a dip in warm water, having inlet and outlet of copper pipes for the regulation of water supply. Complicated scheme of earthenware pipes, embedded into the thickness of walls of these chambers were fixed to supply hot and cold water to the hammam.

The floors of all these apartments were similarly flagged with brilliant encaustic tiles and provided with ingenious covered drains which carried the combined spoil-water into an elaborate vaulted drain on west of the whole complex. The waste water disposal pipes of the hammam were discovered in recent excavation emerging from its western end running westward possibly debauched through underground drain to an interesting elaborate masonry sewer with regularly spaced inspection pits on the western periphery of the fort.

All the chambers of the hammam are roofed over with squat domes with aperture at the apex which originally might have been fitted with glass cap for admitting light. To the south-west of the complex there were two more chambers (now destroyed), similar to the one between the boiler room and back of the audience hall on north-west. What is left now is a detached domed chamber, originally forming part of the complex, which is believed to be a boiler room or kitchen with a furnace in it.

At the center of the cruciform hall there is a slightly raised square platform with 8 feet sides, tastefully decorated with glazed tiles of multicolor, surrounded by a drainage channel around it. This seems to be the hypocaust platform on which one could enjoy a steam bath before dipping into the water of the tank. The central hypocaust platform is supported on four hollow brick columns at the four corners through which hot steam vapor rose upward for heating the central chamber.  Recent excavation and clearance work to the north-western corner revealed arched entrances to the subterranean vaulted sub-structure with criss-cross passage carrying the hammam above on brick pillars.

Researches show that hammam complex as an adjunct to an Audience hall or reception hall like the one at the Lalbagh fort has similarities with the famous royal hammams near Amman, such as the Hammam-as-Sarrakh and at the Qusayr Amra built as annex to the audience hall in early 8th century. They both had three vaulted chambers for dressing, steam-bath in hypocaust system and toilet attached to a rectangular Audience hall with an alcove.

The upper floor of the Audience hall of the Lalbagh fort, reduced by 20 feet on either side, consists of a similar central hall along with two square chambers flanking it. The attractive architectural feature of the central hall is its east and west walls which are pierced by three multi-cusped arched wide openings each. These arched openings, which originally might have been fitted with delicate stone trellis, are supported on four ornamental stone columns on each wall.

In addition, the hall is spanned by a graceful curvilinear roof, simulating a typical Thatched do-chala hut of rural Bangladesh. It is a blending of indigenous elements, (practiced during the Sultanate period), with the imperial Mughal building style, a style which reversely travelled as far afield as Delhi and Lahore during the same period.

PRESENT CONDITION:

At present the building has been restored to its original condition by removing later accretions as far as possible and converted into a fort Museum of the same period. The museum displays on the ground floor a collection of arms and armor including bow and arrow, various types of daggers, spears, swords, shields, helmets, gauntlets, 3 types of pistols and guns: percussion lock, flint-lock and match-lock, while on the upper floor lies different varieties of Muslim calligraphy, replica of Mughal coins with a map showing the distribution on mint towns of India, ceramics including Chinese Jars, Persian porcelain, plates, celadon specimens of Mughal miniature painting including one of Prince Muhammad Azam, Asaf Jab, Mughal farmans and stone inscriptions.

 

 

 

TOMB of PARI BIBI

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It does not matter whether you are form Dhaka or not or even outside of Bangladesh, you cannot miss visiting the Lalbagh fort in old Dhaka. As Dhaka’s history grew richer, this place has become the landmark of this city. People across the country have visited this place hundreds and thousands of time, done researches on it, wrote history, and similar other works that made it so popular among everyone. In this part of our story, we will present to you the main attraction of this whole complex, the famous tomb of Pari bibi.

HISTORICAL REVIEW:

This beautiful structure was constructed by Shaista Khan in the memory of Bibi Pari, who was his daughter and betrothed to Prince Muhammad Azam, but in A.D. 1684 unfortunately died while living in Dhaka. Shaista Khan actually built this tomb with great care, where her loving daughter was buried, by importing the materials from different parts of India.

CONTROVERSY REGARDING PARI BIBI’S IDENTITY:

As of today, no one is actually sure about the true identity of Pari Bibi. However, A.H Dani asserts that from a document registered before the death of Shaista Khan, it has been revealed that he had 7 sons and 5 daughters. Two of the daughters; Iran Dukht alias Pari Bibi and Turan Dukht alias Bibi Biban were present in Dhaka.

S.M. Taifoor in his ‘Glimpses of Old Dhaka’ has a different theory, seriously contending the above opinion. He says, “There is no evidence to prove that this young Prince (Azam) was engaged or married to Shaista Khan’s daughter, born of some obscure concubine. Besides, we find that at this time the Prince had already four wives whom he had married in quick succession. As such there was no possibility of contracting a fifth marriage, grossly transgressing Muslim law”. He tells us that Mir Jumla (1659-1663) at the end of his Ahom expedition, brought back immense war indemnity: annexation of the kingdom of ‘Nak Kati Rani’ adjoining the Garo hills and a 9-year old Ahom princess, the daughter of Ahom Raja Jayadhwaj as hostage for the full execution of the treaty. “Emperor Aurangzeb converted her to Islam and in 1677 gave her in marriage to Prince Azam on a dower of rupees one hundred and eighty thousand. The princess lived in Dhaka with Shahzada Azam and that she died in Dhaka suffering from some puerperal disease”. Her maiden name before conversion was Ramani Gobharu, and after conversion she was named as Rahmat Banu. As she was extraordinarily pretty and a great favorite of the Prince she was affectionately called Bibi Pari, in support of this interesting assertion Syed Md. Taifoor tells us that the mode and the type of pre-Muslim architecture of the tomb further support his view, somewhat similar story is told by Begum Lutfunnesa Habibullah in her paper ‘Ahom Rajkonna Bibi Parir Samadhi’ basing her story on Ahom chroniclers.

ARCHITECTURAL PATTERN:

Bibi Pari’s tomb is a unique Mughal monument in Bangladesh where black basalt from Rajmahal hills, white marble from Jaipur and encaustic tiles of various colors were used to decorate its interior. The mausoleum was planned on the grand pattern of the Taj and the tomb of emperor Humayun. The 66 feet square edifice stands in the middle of a raised stone flagged platform. At each corner it has four graceful octagonal turrets which are capped by plastered kiosks with ribbed decoration. The roof is covered with a false copper dome and crowned by lotus finial, originally gilded and polished for brilliance. The interior of the tomb is divided into nine chambers including 19’-5” square mortuary chamber. The tomb chamber is entirely veneered in white marble in the center of which is a simple stepped cenotaph formed of three steps. The faces of the steps are relieved with shallow foliated designs, while its top bears, in low relief, a takhli design, indicating the grave of a lady. The floor is laid out in small pattern on white marble. Of the other eight chambers, four central side rooms are 14’-8” long by 10-8” broad. The walls of the four side rooms are decorated with white marble up to the dado level. However, the walls of the corner square rooms are decorated with glazed tiles up to the dado level. The colors of the panels are dark blue, orange, green and purple on a yellow ground with borders of orange and lilac flowers on a green ground.

Of the four entrance doorways of the tomb chamber, three are closed with arched white marble jalies and the fourth to the south, originally fitted with sandal wood door leaves, bearing Chinese cross motifs (all of which, according to Syed M. Taifoor have now been stripped by Aleyar Khan and Mazher Ali Khan, who claim descent from Shaista Khan). The most striking device to span the roof of all nine chambers of the mausoleum is the primitive pre-Islamic corbelling system. Huge black-basalt slabs overlap one another from sides to meet at the apex and thereby, form a pyramidal roof. The tomb chamber has 13 overlaps up to 19’-11” height whereas all side rooms are roofed by seven overlapping courses of black stone, rising from 7-8” to 13’-6” with a flat terrace above. Cunningham noted in 1880 during his visit to the Lalbagh Fort, following inscriptions on the eastern and western faces of the tomb.

A loose black basalt slab, bearing inscription in flourishing tugrik style with some floral ornamentation was discovered inside the tomb, which was presumed for long to be her tombstone. Later careful study has revealed that there was nothing in the inscription to indicate the elegiac effect usual in tombstone. On the contrary it is a eulogist tribute to an emperor who did wonderful works to his country. The text consists of five verses of a Qasida in Persian, each hemistich inscribed in segments. It is now on display at the fort Museum. It refers to an emperor who has claim of sovereignty over vast empire created by his predecessors whom spread over Sind, India and the Chinese territories of Central Asia. The last verse in the Qasida mentions an aging city, which probably alludes to the city of Dhaka, where Aurangzeb initiated a scheme of building a fort and other monuments. It is probable that the stone inscription was intended to be an inaugural inscribed tablet to be fixed on the gateway of the fort on some auspicious occasion. In the southeastern corner apartment, there is another marble tomb somewhat similar to the central tomb. It is believed to be of another daughter of Shaista Khan, named Shamshad Banu. The open platform on South is occupied by the grave of Ser Buland Khan, grandson of Khoda Banda Khan Alias Mirza Bangali, son of Shaista Khan. The idea of dividing the interior of a tomb into a number of rooms is, no doubt, derived from the system followed in the Tajmahal and the Mausoleum of Humayun, and probably the use of marble is also inspired from the same basis.

PRESENT CONDITION:

Pari Bibi’s Tomb is in a good shape because of the continuous repairing of the authority and now it is a part of the Lalbagh Fort area, which is not only a place of great recreation to the visitors but also a place to learn about our enrich history for those people who want to know in depth about Dhaka city.

 

 

BARA KATARA

BARA KATARA

Bara Katara, a name that seemed quite common in our list when we were roaming about old Dhaka simply for the cause of recreation. A lot of local people said, “You should really go, visit Bara Katara as soon as possible, who knows how long it would last on this land!” We thought it must be in a very rundown condition and we should just pay the place a visit. So, one fine morning two of us got on a rickshaw and set out for Bara Katara. Upon arriving we realized the true situation of this historical specimen and were thundered seeing the present condition of this magnificent Mughal architecture.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND:

Bara Katara was constructed in the year 1053 A.H. (A.D. 1644) by Mir Abul Qasim who was the Diwan of Mughal prince, Shah Shuja the second son of emperor Shah Jahan. This magnificent structure was built to serve as the official residence of Shah Shuja who afterwards endowed it to the builder Abul Qasim.

ARCHITECTURAL PATTERN:

The idea of its original plan can be gathered from Rennell’s map. It appears to have consisted of an open quadrangle, enclosed on four sides with 22 arcaded rooms on all of its four sides, with main entrance on the north and south. The southern wing presents magnificent river frontage, 220 feet long, and in its prime glory must have been an object of great attraction to the visitors coming on board from afar along the river Buriganga.

This wing consists of a lofty three storied gateway in the middle, flanked on either side with 2 storied structures and ending at the two corners with octagonal hollow towers in three stories. The flanking structure have smaller arched entrances below and residential rooms with window openings towards the river above. The main gateway is prominently projected, and forms a tall fronton bordered with minarates. Externally, a high half domed arch is carried up to the second story, the underside of the half dome being decorated with plastered net-work.

Above the apex of the arch open the windows of the third story, while along the vertical sides plastered panels show a variety of forms including four-centered, cusped, horse shoe, and flat arches, between which doorways open into guard rooms. From here, we are led into an octagonal domed chamber, 27’3” in diameter, the ceiling of which is neatly plastered and decorated with net pattern as well as foliaged designs often elaborate kind.

The corner towers show paneled decoration in the faces of the two lower stages, while the third has window openings. While from the courtyard side two flights of steps, one on either sides of the gateway, lead up to the second story. Here we have a row of oblong rooms, faced with a continuous veranda in the north. The third story over the main gateway has also a similar room and veranda. These upper storage were probably reserved for high personage.

PRESENT CONDITION:

More than half of the Katara building was destroyed because of the negligence of the owners over the time. The northern wings have already disappeared while the eastern and western sides are preserved to some extent but the southern row still exists in its complete form. New buildings have been constructed in the central courtyard and alterations have been made in the existing structure. Government also could not take the charge of this building because of the resistance from the present owners and the Madrasa authority who have filed a case to keep their authority over the existing Katara building and also restricted the entry of the general people who want to visit this place.

 

 

Holy Rosary Church

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When we were researching about St. Thomas Church, a common question came into our mind: Which is the oldest existing church in Dhaka? To find the answer, we did another investigation, and came up with an unexpected answer: The Holy Rosary Church. Located just behind the Holy Cross College, this church bears a history more than 300 years old.

HISTORY:

Literally speaking, this church is the second oldest church in Dhaka. The first church, known as the ‘Church of the Assumption’ was built in Narinda around 1628 by the Portuguese Augustinian Missionaries when they were spreading Christianity in Bangladesh. Since that church do not exists now, this means that Holy Rosary, as of current time, is the oldest in the city. History holds that the church was built around 1677. However, the date (1677) inscribed in the plaster is not accurate according to some. Dr. Taylor writes that the actual place was constructed around 1599 by the missionaries of St. Augustine although there has been no hard evidence to support the fact. The date 1677 was mentioned regarding to the Jesuit priest Father Magalhaes came to Dhaka in order to take care of the new converts in 1678. As far as concerned, he describes the existence of a small chapel built by the Portuguese.

Although   Father Magalhaes did not visit Tejgaon, but he mentions that the Augustinians were established there. According to the Archdiocese of Goa, the headquarters of the Portuguese Augustinians, it has been mentioned that the church of Tejgaon as being established in 1714.  It concerns that if there was an existence of such chapel, and then perhaps it was converted into a church over the time.

ARCHITECTURAL PATTERN:

Considering that the church was built in 1677, it has gone through numerous upkeep, including in 1940 and 2000. Holy Rosary church follows a Roman Catholic architectural pattern including a long rectangular hall with its nave, aisle and the narthex along with the bema, except for the apse which makes a small square. The old wooden roof has been completely replaced by a modern one, although the support is still the earlier circular brick columns which were placed subsequent to 1677. The corners on the eastern side have hollow towers, capped cupolas, originally having images. The eastern facade is a harmonious blend of Christian and Mughal elements. Shaista Khan architectural patterns can be found on the cusped arched entrance flanked with twin fluted pillars, the paneled face, and the deeply curved projected eve. The gable end with its triangular pediment, containing the figure of Mary with baby Jesus, and the pillars having a zigzag pattern are absolutely Christian. This suggests that probably in the original building the roof was triangular in section, but now it has a flat roof.

There is a graveyard in the premises of the Church where there are several tombstones which are in Armenian, Portuguese and some are in English. Both the oldest tombstones of Christian and Armenian of Dhaka are situated here which are dated in the same year of 1714 A.D. This also indicates that the Armenians were using this graveyard before the establishment of their own Church and some historians say that they used this graveyard until 1794 A.D.

PRESENT CONDITION:

The old church was replaced by a new one in recent years. However, people go to both of them to say their prayers. The original church, even though has gone under numerous repairs, remains in a very good condition. Known to few, the Holy Rosary Church runs Holy Cross College for girls and Note Dame College for boys. Due to some recent political turmoil, no one is allowed to enter the church area except for the Roman Catholic or otherwise special permission is granted by the authorities. We hope that people will come to know much more about this place if they are keen enough.           

St. Thomas Church

 

St. Thomas Chruch

 

Christianity was introduced to this sub-continent since Vasco da Gama set his foot in India. Since then, many travelers and traders have come here in order to see the continent or to establish a business here. Over the time, some of them started to live here and to pray to their gods, they started building churches. As a result, quite a large collection of old churches can be found throughout India and Bangladesh, especially in Dhaka, and among them St. Thomas church is well known.

BACKGROUND

St. Thomas church, or known as Anglican Church or Bangladesh church, is located in Johnson road, near the famous Bahadur Shah Park. The construction of St. Thomas church was completed on 1819, and during that time it was considered as a main focal point of Dhaka city. History has it that the convicts from Dhaka Central Jail were employed for its construction. The church was hallowed in July 10, 1824 by Bishop Reginald Herbert the Metropolitan of Calcutta during his visit in Dhaka. Another date regarding the consecration was given in 1872, but the information has proven to be false. St. Thomas Church has been serving as a cathedral church since 1951 in collaboration with the Church of Pakistan, but after liberation, it became an autonomous church in Dhaka. Currently the church is being led by reverend J.S. Blair. According to the data of 2005, the church has more than 15,000 members, an active member of the World Council of Churches (form 1975), and functions as a part of Anglican Communion.

ARCHITECTURAL PATTERNS

St. Thomas Church followed strong Gothic architectural patterns as it was built following the architectures of the European churches. The main attraction of it is perhaps is the clock tower with arched windows on its wall. A small porch leads to the entrance of the church supported on four columns which are of perpendicular gothic design on top of the entrance. Small square parapets are used on the roof. There are two columns at the back of the rectangular nave which leads to a pulpit through an arch. The pulpit is rectangular and has a brass cross on the wall at the back. The altar is constructed of wood and also has a brass cross on top of it. The location of the altar is at the east end. There are elegant curved chairs for congregation with a stone font on the back of the nave. The walls of the church are adorned with stone tablets commemorating some of the members of the church. The roofs of the verandas are set upon sloppy wooden panels. The rectangular hall room is very much tidy and two piers with grooves are easily visible surpassing other things and these piers do not carry any weight. The roof used wooden battens on iron joists; the floors have tiles. The delicate stone and brick works of this white plastered building are still as immaculate as it has been for nearly two centuries. Even most of the thick teak furniture, altar, and ablution bowl (for baptizing) in marble are still unblemished and in good working condition. However, the open colonnades around two sides of the nave (central axial hall) were walled up later. In 2005 the church authority has undertaken a massive renovation of the building. Though the church is small in size, it is one of the most attractive ones in Bangladesh. The rectangular flat-roof steeple rises above the roof in two stages.

PRESENT CONDITION

Due to its renovation process, the church remains in a fine condition as well a good spot for tourists who want to know about the history of Christianity in Dhaka. As of today the main Anglican congregation now meets in the New Saint Thomas’ Church in Maghbazar because there are no Anglicans remaining in the old city.

 

 

 

 

AHSAN MANZIL

Ahsan Manzil

 

Perhaps the most common location where every tourist or local would like to go on their holidays would be the Ahsan Manzil. Over the years it has attracted quite a huge number of people (more than 3 million), and as of today, it is a must-see place for everyone apart from Lalbagh Fort. Even though people would go there to spend their leisure time, we traveled there to unravel its golden history, to know about the place, its origin, the people who lived there, and all the important activities that took place here.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND:

Before this palace was purchased by Khwaja Alimullah there was a French Kuthi at the place where the Andarmahal is situated. After the battle of Palasy when the British came to the power, they forcefully took over the kuthi and the French businessmen lost their control over it. During that time Khwaja Alimullah was purchasing vast amount of lands from the landlords who were becoming insolvent due to the harsh rules made by the British. He realized that purchasing this property will give him a boost in status and power in the society, and as a result in 1830, Alimullah purchased the kuthi and renovated in such a way that will not only be his residence but also will be the symbol of his grandeur. Since then it became the permanent resident for his future generations to come.

NAMING CONTROVERSY:

There is a controversy regarding the origin of the name ‘Ahsan Manzil’. One group of historians believes that Khwaja Alimullah named the palace after his father Pir Khwaja Ahsanullah though another group has come up with a different origin of this name. They believe that Ahsan Manzil was named after Nawab Ahsanullah who was the son of Nawab Abdul Ghani. As Pir Khwaja Ahsanullah was not a famous person like Nawab Ahsanullah, many people thought the second source of naming this palace is more meaningful. Nonetheless both of the groups have failed to show any hard evidence and thus the naming of Ahsan Manzil still remains a mystery to all till date. Although there are different views regarding the naming of this palace people always call this palace as ‘Nawab Bari’ from the very beginning of its journey as the residence of Nawab family.

ARCHITECTURAL PATTERNS AND CHANGES:

The construction of the main palace building which is known as Rangmahal was started in 1859 A.D. by Nawab Abdul Ghani and European architectural pattern was followed to construct the building. The Andarmahal where in the past the French kuthi was situated was repaired by Khwaja Alimullah before the construction of Rangmahal.

The fate of Ahsan Manzil was never a good one. On April 7, 1888 at about 7.30 pm in the evening, a devastating cyclone swept over Dhaka city, destroying everything in its path, including the palace. Andarmahal was totally destroyed and Rangmahal was severely damaged by the cyclone. The damage nearly approximated to taka 1 million, plus taka 3 million damages to the interior and furniture. Necessary steps were taken by Nawab Abdul Ghani and Nawab Ahsanullah to restore the palace back to its original state and they have signed a contract with Martin and co. to reconstruct the necessary portions of Rangmahal which needed to be repaired. 100,000 bricks were purchased from Burn co. and were transported all the way from Raniganj as Nawab lost his trust on the locally made bricks after the severe damage of the palace. Though Nawab signed a contract with Martin and co. he canceled it as he also had lack of trust on them as they were in the charge of constructing Ahsan Manzil for the first time and the newly built building was severely damaged by the cyclone. Then the charge of reconstructing the palace was handed over to Babu Gobindo Chondro Roy who was famous for constructing the palace of Kuch Bihar. The most significant change was done by adding the dome to the top of Rangmahal which was at that time was the highest point of the town. Less than a decade later the palace was again hit by a massive earthquake in 1897 and major repairs had to be done again.

During the repairing of this palace under government monitoring in 2006 the wooden floors and supporting beams were replaced by cement floors and iron beams. Visitors can still see a leftover piece of the wooden beam preserved in the museum.

POLITICAL IMPORTANCE:

From the middle of the nineteenth century to the beginning of the Pakistan period, for about one hundred years the Muslims of East Bengal got their leadership from this palace. Once the Dhaka Nawab Family was considered as the Commonwealth of Eastern Bengal, because there was no other family suitable enough to solve the common problems of the people. Nawab Khwaja Salimullah took some very important and crucial decisions regarding the partition of Bengal in 1905 A.D. for which Dhaka became the capital city of the new province named East Bengal and Assam. Nawab family also played an important role in the formation of Muslim League. Nawab Family had such a strong political influence in this region that when any higher government officials came to Dhaka, they would have must visit Ahsan Manzil. The Nawabs of Dhaka were also the head of the Ponchayet system and the meetings of the Ponchayet were used to be held in the Darbar Hall of Ahsan Manzil.

DECLINE:

Actually, the pride of Ahsan Manzil started to crumble during the time of Nawab Sir Salimullah. As he was heavily involved in politics, he could not direct the estate in a proper manner and for which the estate’s revenue income decreased and Nawab had to take a huge amount of debt. In 1907 Nawab borrowed 16 Lac and 25 thousand Rupees from the British Government and handed over the charge of the estate to the Court of Wards of the Government. During the time of Nawab Habibullah, the condition of the Nawab Estate became more miserable as the descendants started to be separated with their shares. On 4 March 1952, under the act of Zamindari Abolition Law Government of Pakistan acquired Dhaka Nawab Estate except Ahsan Manzil but the inheritors of Nawab family could not even carried out the maintenance cost of the palace. They started renting the palace to the outsiders in order to maintain their day to day expenses for which the condition of this palace became more vulnerable.

PRESENT CONDITION:

After the liberation war in 1974 when the owners of this palace decided to sell it through an auction, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman ordered that there will be a museum in this palace. After that different governments came into power and the works of the project went on. At last on 20th September, 1992 the museum was inaugurated in Rangmahal but most of the structures along with more than half of the portion of Andarmahal were out of acquisition. The museum authority has a plan to convert the Andarmahal into another museum where people will get to know how Nawab Family of Dhaka influenced the political situation of this country. We wish them best of luck.