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Ahsan Manzil


Ahsan Manzil situated at Kumartoli of Dhaka on the bank of the Buriganga, was the residential palace and the kachari of the nawabs of dhaka. It has been turned into a museum recently. It was said to be the Rang Mahal of Sheikh Enayetullah, a zamindar of Jamalpur pargana (Barisal) during the time of the Mughals. Having purchased it from his son Matiullah, the french made it their trading centre. Khwaja alimullah bought it from the French in 1830 and converted it into his residence, effecting necessary reconstruction and renovations. Nawab Khwaja abdul ghani engaged Martin and Company, a European construction and engineering firm, to make a master plan for their residence.


The construction of the palace was begun in 1859 and completed in 1872. Abdul Ghani named it Ahsan Manzil after his son Khwaja ahsanullah. At that time the newly built palace was known as Rang Mahal and the earlier one was called Andar Mahal. Ahsan Manzil was pertly damage by a terrible tornado On April 7, 1888, particularly the Andar Mahal of the palace. Nawab Ahsanullah rebuilt the Andar Mahal and repaired the Rang Mahal using good quality bricks that were brought from Raniganj. The exquisite dome of the present Rang Mahal was interposed. Ahsan Manzil was badly damaged again by the earthquake of 12 June 1897. However, Nawab Ahsanullah had it repaired again.

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Ahsan Manzil is one of the significant architectural monuments of the country. Established on a raised platform of 1 metre, the two-storied palace measures 125.4m by 28.75m. The height of the ground floor is 5 metres and that of the first floor 5.8 metres. There are porticos of the height of the ground floor, both on the northern and southern sides of the palace. An open spacious stairway has come down from the southern portico, extending upto the bank of the river through the front garden. There was once a fountain in the garden in front of the stairs, though it does not exist today. The spacious north and south verandas of both the floors rest on semicircular arches. The floor is covered with marble.


Ahsan Manzil, an architectural treasure, witnessed many historical events of Bangladesh. From the last part of the 19th century to the initial years of Pakistan, the Muslim leadership of East Bengal emerged from this palace. The nawabs of Dhaka used to conduct their court affairs here as chief of the panchayet (village council) everyday. Many anti-Congress meetings were held here under the initiative of Nawab Ahsanullah, a staunch believer in Muslim separate identity. Almost all the Viceroys, Governors and Lieutenant Governors of British India who visited Dhaka spent some time at the Ahsan Manzil.

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