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Palaces and Zaminder's Mansions in Bangladesh

202616 Views 234 Replies 26 Participants Last post by  masum
Palaces and Zaminder's Mansions in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has a lot of historic palaces and mansions. Post pictures of these palaces and mansions here.

Dhanbari Palace is located in Tangail district. This sprawling complex belongs to the well known Dhanbari Nawabs who have set up a large number of educational institutions including the Dhaka University co-founded by Nawab Bahadur Syed Nawab Ali Choudhury, the first Muslim minister from undivided Bengal during the British rule. His forefathers from Baghdad were mystic saints who managed the Dhanbari zamindary estate. The original 700 years old grand Nawab Masjid (mosque) along with the over 100 years old extensions with imposing minarets, domes, crazy china and mosaic works inlaid with beautiful stones beside a huge pond are a masterpiece. The magnificent Palace, Manzil, Villa and Cottage have the original design and have been maintained well.

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Maharajas Palace situated in Natore, was the zamindari headquarters of the NATORE RAJ. Like most of the feudal palaces in Bangladesh the palace ruins of Natore are approached through a long avenue, fringed on either side with carefully planted rows of bottle palms. Ramjivan, the real founder of the Raj family, made his headquarters at Natore and built most of the Rajbadi complex, the tanks, temples, orchards and flower gardens.

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Murapara Zaminder's palace now converted to a college.

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Tajhat Palace located in Rangpur. This palace now has been turned into a museum. The palace was built by Maharaja Kumar Gopal Lal Roy in the beginning of the 20th century. He was a descendent of a Hindu khatari who emigrated from the Punjab. He was a jeweler by profession. It is believed that from the conspicuous appearance of his Taj or jeweled crown, his estate derived the name of Tajhat.

From 1984 to 1991 the palace was used as a Rangpur High Court Branch of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. In 1995 the palace was declared as a protected monument by the Department of Archaeology. Recognizing its outstanding architectural value the Government of Bangladesh shifted the Rangpur Museum to the second floor of the palace in 2005. This small museum has several nice examples of black stone Hindu carvings in its back rooms.

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Ahsan Manjil : Built in 1872 and standing on the river Buriganga, this stately building offers the visitors a feeling of the life-style of the Nawabs of Dhaka. It is known as the Pink Palace, this building now houses a splendid museum.

Basically, it was the residence of the Nawabs. Nawab Abdul Gani renovated this building in the year 1872 and named it after his son Khaza Ahasanullah.

On the bank of river Buriganga in Dhaka the Pink majestic, Ahsan Manjil has been renovated and turned into a museum recently. It is an epitome of the nation's rich cultural heritage.

Todays renovated Ahsan Manjil a monument of immense historical beauty.

It has 31 rooms with a huge dome atop which can be seen from miles around. It now has 23 galleries in 31 rooms displaying of traits, furniture and household articles and utensils used by the Nawab.

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The Bangabhaban the official residence of the President of Bangladesh, the head of state of Bangladesh. Located in the capital Dhaka, the palace was originally the temporary official residence of the British Viceroy of India. From 1947 to 1971, it was the residence of the Governor of East Pakistan.

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Rose Garden Mansion: This formerly Zaminder mansion, known as the ‘Rose Garden’ is not a garden of roses but in reality it is a pleasure lodge, built in the late 19th century. The building which remains a private property to date, has been renovated and painted by its recent owners keeping the original character fully maintained.

The building has wonderful Corinthian columns and has on its ground floor eight apartments including a central hall whilst the upper floor has a further five apartments including a large dance hall in the middle.

In the front yard, there was a fountain, the structure of which still remains. There are several classical marble statues in the garden. Though the rose garden that has given the mansion its name does not exist anymore, the extensive lawn with a small pond in the middle that was overgrown with wild grass, thickets and clumps of weed have been cleared and is in the stage of recovery.

Visitors are allowed to visit the place as an afternoon refreshment spot. The owners said that they wish to maintain the building and they have no plans till now to use them as their residential quarters and nor to make it a profit-based tourist spot. This tall, massive building is in good condition and stands proudly reaching the skyline.

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A much needed thread. Good work Tmac!
Nice pics Tmac!
I had been thinking of starting a thread like this myself...but I'll wait now :) . Whenever I get to visit Bangladesh with sufficient time, I'll try to visit all the zamindar palaces I know of and get some pics. In the meantime...thanks Tmac! Two little points...the Dinajpur pictures shown are part of the temple complex, not the palace itself (which is not in a good state of preservation). Also, Rose Garden was built for musical performances, not as a residence.

On a side note, that is one whimsical minaret on that mosque behind the Rose Garden!
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Wow... nice collection. You can publish them as a book.
Ya we definitely needed a thread for this. Nice work Tmac. Are there any eastasian style palaces in Bangladesh that you guys are aware of?
^^ I don't know that I would call them "palaces" but there are some Japanese-style houses I read about in a Daily Star article one time. I will try to find and post the article here in the next couple of days.

While the "Boat House" in Dhanmandi does not follow any particular style, it is more East Asian than anything else IMO.
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A few years ago Daily Star produced a fine series of articles on various aspects of Bangladesh's heritage. Included were several articles on zamindar mansions, including the one on Dinajpur Rajbari below. Although some of the old zamindar mansions are, thankfully, in a good state of preservation (as seen in Tmac's pics), unfortunately many more are not. The pictures Tmac posted of Dinajpur Rajbari previously in this thread are actually of the temple complex attached to this mansion. The temple is well preserved but the actual mansion itself is not. Although sadly this mansion has seen better days, the ruins themselves have a certain charm.

Dinajpur Rajbari

Discovering the hidden glory

A day begins as the sun lifts up the horizon and peeps by the side of the two-storey grand palace. Scarlet hibiscus blooms. Mandira makes a sweet melody. A tulshi plant raises its proud head from the courtyard sacred altar. An elegant woman -- probably the ranima with vermilion on her forehead and in red bordered, white sari -- goes with her attendants toward the puja mandap. Servants and other inhabitants become busy with the Rajbari activities and the day rolls on. These are a few of the broken images that play with imagination as one observes the desolate ruins of the Rajbari of the flourishing and powerful zamindars of Dinajpur.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the aristocratic feudal lords of the land were known as zamindars. They often held courtesy titles of rajas and maharajas. These rajas or maharajas expressed their power and glamour in many ways and the architectural forms and structures built by them were one such expression. Often these ornamented, picturesque palaces translated the combined architectural language of European Renaissance, Mughal and Bengali styles.

Some of the rajas and maharajas of Dinajpur were powerful and enlightened and had embellished their religious structures with beautifully carved stone columns, gateways and other ornamental pieces quarried from the ancient ruins of Bangarh (ancient Kotivarsha). Some of these pieces have taken their place in the museum. The Dinajpur Rajbari is one such building that precariously stands as ruins on the northeastern outskirts of Dinajpur town and comprises a residential building, temples and puja mandap, large backyards, gardens and ponds -- all fulfilling the luxurious lifestyle of the rajas.

The Rajbari Complex might have been once approached by wide roads, where horse carriages moved about. But now the palatial ruins -- lonely -- are approached through an equally dilapidated narrow metal road projecting only imaginations of the past glory.

Tales of history relate that Dinajpur derived its name from Raja Dinaj or Dinaraj, founder of the Dinajpur Rajbari. But others say that after usurping the Ilyas Shahi rule, the famous Raja Ganesh of the early 15th century was the real founder of this house for a brief period. At the end of the 17th century Srimanta Dutta Chaudhury became the zamindar of Dinajpur and after him, his sister's son Sukhdeva Ghosh inherited the property as Srimanta's son had a premature death. Sukhdeva's son Prannath Ray became famous and powerful and began the construction of the famous Kantanagar Nava-Ratna Temple, now known as the Kantajir Mandir, one of the most precious heritage structures.

The Rajbari is entered through a tall, arched lion-gate facing west. One will find a daintily painted Krishna temple on the left, some abandoned outhouses in front and another gateway to the right which provides access to an inner square courtyard on about 100 square feet. Facing inward to the open courtyard on the east is a flat roofed large temple or nat mandir. The temple is exclusively decorated with attractive stucco floral motifs, while the front verandah is supported on four semi-Corinthian pillars and the main hall carried on another set of columns. Behind the temple is a square block of two-storey building known as Rani-Mahal similarly enclosing a square open courtyard. The main palace block -- decaying -- is farther east.

The highly ornate oblong Krishna Temple of the Rajbari family is laid out around a central open courtyard. The Mandapa is approached by a flight of stairs and the entry faç

ade is embellished by three rows of ringed columns of the Corinthian order with intricate ornamented cusped arches in between. The central part of the parapet above is also accentuated with floral motifs and the rest of the parapet is relieved with plain plastered panels and elements like pinnacles to variegate the skyline.

It is difficult to conceive what the main palace block looked like when it was young and bold. Wild leaves and veins have wrapped the building like octopus tendrils while the skeleton and naked brick structures give a horrid look as the ageing plaster is almost worn out of the walls. In different parts of the building, structural girders are exposed while there is no roof above. Still from his historical study and the remaining ruins, Dr Nazimuddin Ahmed gave a vivid description of the structures in one of his publications published in 1986.

"The imposing façade of the two-storey palace, facing east has a broad frontage of about 150 feet. The central part carrying a 10 feet wide verandah above is projected prominently. The front projection has a series of elegant Ionic columns in pairs with round shafts on the upper floor.

"The parapet is plain except for a curved plaque-wall in the centre, bearing in relief, two elephants standing face to face and holding a crown. Above and below it are some indistinct English letters. On either side of the balcony a broad spiral masonry staircase leads up to the upper storey. The roof of the 15 feet wide balcony collapsed.

"Immediately behind the balcony a large hall (50"X20") originally flagged with white marble stone and flanked by two 10" wide verandahs on the east and west is roofed over with massive iron girders. The lofty 25 feet high roof is in a highly disintegrating condition. On its north there is another smaller (30"X 20") hall and on the south a broad corridor leads to the inner quadrangle of residential quarters."

If the bricks could paint or write the tales of the Rajbari and its inhabitants, what a book could have been written! But with the silent walls, the palace has now grown old and inexpressive. It has faced not only the cruelty of time but also the ravages of nature like the 1897 earthquake that had left it badly damaged. Although the palace was largely rebuilt by Maharaja Sir Girijanath Ray Bahadur, time has not spared it from its claws. It is up to us now whether we would at least let the ruins remain and let our future generations see them and let their imagination flow back to the past and touch our heritage.

Story: Zakia Rahman, architect
Photo: Syed Zakir Hossain
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nice effort 2 view our heritages......
i have some collection of zamindar's palace image.
but when i try 2 insert image button from message box, that want a URL link.
how can i insert images from my harddisk?
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