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Home Opinion Article Ahsan Manzil: Historical Artifact of Dhaka

Ahsan Manzil: Historical Artifact of Dhaka

Syeda Warda Ahmed : Ahsan Manzil was the residential palace of the Nawab of Dhaka. The palace is located in Kumartoli, Bangladesh, on the banks of the Buriganga River. The construction of Ahsan Manzil began in 1859 and was finished in 1872 by Abdul Ghani, a Kashmiri merchant who named it after his son Ahsanullah. The Palace was built in the Indo-Saracenic Revival style, and it is currently a National Museum in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

In 1875, Abdul Ghani was given the title Nawab of Dhaka, because of his loyalty to the British in 1857. The golden area for the Nawab family when Nawab Abdul Gani received the ‘Nawab’ title by the British Raj in 1875 and received the title of “King Commander of the order of the Star of India” in 1886. In addition to the vast property he inherited, the favor of the British Raj, had made the Nawab one of the most powerful and influential of Dhaka’s elite. The “Ahsan Manzil” commonly known as the Nawab Bari was a symbol of aristocracy, opulence and influence.

This stately monument was heavily damaged in the 1888 tornado but was later reconstructed. The National Museum still preserves a beautiful silver filigree model of the heritage building.

Lord Curzon stayed in this residence as a guest of Nawab Salimullah Bahadoor. He could witness at that time, the emergence of Dhaka as the new capital of Eastern Bengal after the first partition in 1905.

Ahsan Manzil was the high point of the old city and it dominated the river front. During the British Raj Dignitaries arriving by luxury boats crossed the promenade and the front court, ascended a grand flight of stairs and entered the palace on the second story. Lord Curzon, Governor General of British India, Stayed here as the Guest of Nawab Sir Salimullah Bahadur in 1904. Important decisions regarding the future of the Muslim movements in India were taken here, which culminated in the formation of the All-India Muslim League.

Because of Muslim emotional attachment to the Palace, its prominence on the river front and its exemplary style of Anglo-Indian Architecture, Ahsan Manzil deserved to be conserved; a decision for its restoration and conversion into a period museum was taken by the Government in April, 1985.

On the bank of river Buriganga in Dhaka the Pink Palace has been renovated and turned into a museum recently. It is an epitome of the nation’s rich cultural heritage. It is the home of Nawab of Dhaka and a silent spectator to many events. Today’s renovated Ahsan Manzil 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.

Arrayed in large and small plantations placed all over in generous groups and tall palm tress the mansion stands today testifying the splendor and prosperity of the Nawab family that existed and influenced colonial Dhaka. The palace and life in it had been ravaged by the passage of time and history, but after its renovation, has seen a new dawn filled with rays of memories when it had been turned into a museum for its architectural heritage and historic value.

Ahsan Manzil is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and historically rich places in Dhaka and all over Bangladesh. The museum represents the culture from back then so perfectly that it is so easy distinguish the distinct culture variation from then and now. The palace and the museum is very well maintained, however, a lot of essence from the historical culture has been lost since the reconstruction or renovation of Ahsan Manzil. Nevertheless, Ahsan Manzil is a prestigious place that represents our national culture and heritage very well. Its rich history diversity makes it a very fascinating place to visit by both nationals and foreigners.


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