| Site home | 

< Previous  |  Main contents  |  Section contents | Next >


[[ Other sections:  || Archaeology|| Architecture||  Arts and Crafts||  Cultural history||  || Folklore||  || Indigenous||  || Language & Literature||  || Living traditions||  || State & Culture  ]] 


2


SOME COLONIAL PALACES OF DHAKA: AN ARCHITECT’S VIEW1

M. Ali Naqi


1. 1. Building information

Name of the building Baliati Palace

Location Manikganj, situated about 50 km north-east of Dhaka; eight km short of Manikganj town;

12 km away from right highway near Kamalpur Bazar.

Construction period 18th Century

Area 20 acre

2. Owner’s information

Name of the owner Gobinda Ram ShahaSocial identification

Affluent salt merchant, built this complex for his four sons.

Owner’s attitude Jagannath College in Dhaka was founded by one of the members of this family.

3. Description of the building

Site plan Four building blocks in the front having other fours behind and a pond in the rear. Three monumental gates in front of the blocks with boundary walls, some small structures in dilapidated condition used for accommodation of servants at the northern side of the pond.

Building layout and function Frontal blocks are rectangular in shape, with

continuous colonnade verandah in the front; facing south, a central staircase dividing the buildings into east-west wings. Series of


image

1. [Some of these palaces have already been treated in section ‘The Palaces of Zamindars’. They are repeated here only to show the manner of considering these subjects by an architect. The selection is by the architect himself.]Editor



4. Building style

living rooms and mahals served from this verandah. The two storeyed blocks in the second row are of courtyard type used as family quarters.

Organization More Public buildings: linear type, facing approach south with large rooms for socio­ cultural and recreational activities.

More Private buildings: courtyard-type (chakmilan).

Scale Terminal frontal blocks are three storeyed, whereas the two central ones are of two storeyed providing horizontal termination of the complex.

5. Proportion Symmetrical.

Expression Eight frontal free-standing Corinthian columns on high pedestals in terminal blocks and eight frontal Corinthian pilasters on arched wall in the two central blocks create a membrane of authority and representative of aspiring social status.

6. Special features

Elements Three larking lion figures on the gateways, continuous columns or pilasters containing fluted shaft with floral capital terminating below the elaborated roof parapet with projected pinnacles of kalasa style symbolizing purity and sanctity.

Material Bricks and brick masonry system with plaster used to recreate illusion of stone details.

Climatic objects Frontal verandah proving necessary depth to the southern façade of the buildings, wooden lattices above lintel level controlling exposure of these verandahs and directing views towards ground reducing the glare caused by tropical cloudy sky.

Comments A remarkable building in a precarious condition.

2. 1. Building information

Name of the building Ahsan Manzil

Location Near Wiseghat, at the bank of River Buriganga on Buckland Band.

Construction period Reconstructed on a French factory, 1872 AD.

Heavily damaged in tornado of 1888; later reconstructed with an added dome.

Area Not investigated


APPENDIX 571


2. Owner’s information

Name of the owner Nawab Abdul GhaniSocial identificationThe building was named after Nawab Ahsanullah Bahadur, son of Nawab Abdul Ghani, Zamindar of Dhaka.Owner’s attitudeThe Nawab family liberally supported various social and cultural activities in their society by establishing different public works for the city.

3. Description of the building Site planThe site faces the river Buriganga,

the then approach area of Dhaka city.Building layout and functionThe two symmetrical wings accommodate apartments of different sizes.

4. Building style OrganizationMahals, guest rooms and libraries at the upper storey and a darbar hall (west) and dining hall (east) in the ground floor.ScaleA grand picturesque two storeyed river front symmetrically composed with an imposing flight of steps from the river side and a lofty dome at the top.

5. Proportion Lofty dome, high rusticated podium, triple arched portal and symmetric wings.ExpressionEight frontal free-standing Corinthian columns on high pedestals in terminal blocks and eight frontal Corinthian pilasters on arched wall in the two central blocks creates a membrane of authority and representative of aspiring social status.

6. Special features

Elements Elaborated gateways, continuous columns or pilasters containing fluted shaft with floral capital terminating below the elaborated roof parapet, lofty dome and a grand flight of steps.

Material Bricks and brick masonry systemwith plaster used to recreate illusion of stone details.

Climatic objects Frontal verandah proving necessary depth to the southern façade of the buildings, wooden lattices above lintel level controlling exposure of these verandahs and directing views towards ground reducing the glare causes by tropical cloudy sky.

Comments Regained to some extent, but the environment, due to over-crowded settlements, is lost.


572

ARCHITECTURE

3.

1. Building information

Name of the building

Ruplal House

Location

Farashganj locality at the bank of river Buriganga on Buckland Band.

Construction period

19th century mansion was constructed on a site containing an old building of an Armenian

businessman.

Area

62m long

2. Owner’s information

Name of the owner

Ruplal Das and Raghunath

Social identification

Ruplal’s grandfather Mathuranath was a wealthy trader in the early 19th century. His grand sons were also renowned influential ‘merchant brothers’ of old Dhaka.

Owner’s attitude

Ruplal Das and Raghunath brothers bought the property to construct a building in parallel to the status of the majestic nearby Ahsan Manzil.

3. Description of the building

Site Plan

E-shaped layout, projecting towards the busy city road. A grand portico at the center of the middle arm.

Building layout and function

Two storeyed, not symmetrical in plan. Larger western block occupied by Ruplal Das and the other by Raghunath.

4. Building style

Organization

Around fifty apartments approached from two deep verandahs in the north and south. The building contains some large halls and among them the central one, the dance hall, in the

upper floor is well decorated with wooden floor and relief ceiling.

Scale

The two storeyed building lacks any set backspace either from the city or from the river, thus at present day has lost it’s monumental grand picturesque image due to unauthorized encroachment of the adjacent areas.

Expression

The grand portico in the central wing refers to the typical late Renaissance style.

Orders

Neo-classical:

Semi-Corinthian

circular

fluted columns in the central portico with a

triangular pediment. Similar treatment in the

pilasters

on

the

main

buildings

but

rectangular in section.


APPENDIX 573

5. Special features

Elements

Continuous columns or pilasters containing

fluted shaft with floral capital terminating

below the elaborated roof parapet.

Material

Bricks and brick masonry system with plaster

used to recreate illusion of stone details.

Wooden floor and relief ceilings decorated

with stucco and gold gilt patterns.

Climatic objects

Both frontal and rare verandah proving

necessary depth to the building, wooden

lattices above lintel level controlling exposure

of these verandahs and directing views

towards ground reducing the glare causes by

tropical cloudy sky.

Comments

Needs to be protected and restored.

4.

1. Building information

Name of the building

Muktagacha Palace

Location

18 km to the west of Mymensingh

Construction period

19th centuryArea Large complex containing

ten acre of land including some tanks.

2. Owner’s information

Name of the owner

Jagat Kishore and his son Ram Kishore

Acharya, Surya Kanta Acharya and his son

Sishi Kanta.

Social identification

Local Zamindar

Owner’s attitude

Aristocratic, but with proverbial benevolence.

3. Description of the Building

Site plan

This is a ruined palace, only two detached

blocks survived occupied by Muktagacha

College and an institute. There are five

temples within this compound.

Building layout and function

The northern Block: more prominent with a

porch mounted by a globular dome above

divided the building in two wings served by

long verandahs.

The southern Block: central archway through

which a long passage leads to an extensive

courtyard around which are the temples of the

complex arranged. The passage on the either

side contains series of guardrooms.


574 ARCHITECTURE


4. Building style

Organization Organization is simple and typical of it’s contemporary Colonial examples. The globular dome rests on a raised square base. The slightly projecting side wings are surmounted by triangular pediments on the parapet and on the windows.

Scale and proportion The northern block gives an more prominent

and grandeur image due to it’s dome, porch and pediments at the wings.

Expression The pediments on the parapet of the two wings refer to the typical late Renaissance style.

Orders Neo-classical and indigenous. The semi circular archways carried on by Corinthian columns both singly and in pairs on the flanking wings. The central dome and the pinnacle-turrets are indigenous.

5. Special features

Elements The prominent porch on the northern block with it’s globular dome and the pediments in the wings are the most distinguishing elements.

Material Bricks and brick masonry system with plaster used to recreate illusion of stone details. The spandrels of the entrance arch are relieved with simple flora scrolls in the plaster.

Climatic objects Both frontal and rare verandah proving necessary depth to the building, wooden lattices above lintel level controlling exposure of these verandahs and directing views towards ground reducing the glare causes by tropical cloudy sky.

5. 1. Building information

Name of the building Mymensingh Palace (Original name ‘Sashi

Lodge’)

Location Situated in the middle of the Mymensingh Town. At present it houses the Women Teacher’s Training Academy.

Construction period 1905-1911 CE Area Large complex

containing nine acres of land.

2. Owner’s information

Name of the owner Zamindar Sashi Kanta Acharya Choudhury of Muktagacha


APPENDIX 575

Social identification

Srikrishna Choudhury, the founder of

Mymensingh Zamindari received it as a grant from Nawab Alivardi Khan. His descendant

was Maharaja Surya Kanta Acharya and his adopted son Sashi Kanta Acharya, son of

Raja Jagat Kishore Acharya, was made Raja in 1914.

Owner’s attitude

Aristocratic and benevolent.

3. Description of the building

Site plan

The building is still in a fairly good condition

of preservation and functions as an Academy.

The site is approached through an gateway.

There is an ornamental fountain between the

gateway and the palace.

Building layout and function

The palace is a single-storeyed building,

with a centrally placed triangular pediment.

At the entrance of the palace there is a foyer

to a large 7.5 m 15 m hall, originally used

as ballroom. There are two more large hall

to the west of the ballroom and at the far end

there are ten apartments attached to it. The

rear of the building on it’s east and west

ends have projecting U-shaped wings

beyond a large tank.

4. Building style

Organization

Organization of the buildings is done by

arranging U-shaped forms towards a large

tank identified as the Jal-Tungi. The imposing

semi-circular arched gateway is flanked on

either side with Doric columns and the

ornamental marble fountain contains a

beautiful classical statue of a semi-nude

nymph. The symmetric façade of the palace

has three projecting porches. The central

portico has twelve elegant Corinthian

columns supporting a triangular pediment

above bearing floral scrolls in plaster above

it’s parapet.

Scale and proportion

The single-storeyed elevations of the palace

are highly decorated to break the façade in

small proportionately arranged sub-divisions.

The sky-like is also broken into series of

rhythmic intervals.


576 ARCHITECTURE

Expression

The pediment on the central portico refers to

the typical late Renaissance style mixed with

local culture and values.

Orders

Neo-classical. The whole façade of the palace

is relieved with series of Corinthian columns.

5. Special features

Elements

The prominent portico on the main block with

it’s imposing pediment is the most

distinguishing elements. The elevations of the

palace is highly decorated by adding short

ornamental walls with semi-circular openings,

pairs of Corinthian columns and elegant

kiosks on Corinthian capitals.

Material

The structural members are plastered to

recreate the image of stone details whereas the

brick walls are exposed to give the impression

of kind of a softer filler material in between.

Climatic objects

The portico provides climatic protection in the

drop off area for the palace. Like any other

typical Colonial buildings the depth is

achieved by creating recesses on the façade

but here the impression of the plastered stone

like structural skeleton is acting like a

protection to the brick core inside.

6. 1. Building information

Name of the building

Murapara Palace

Location

Situated in Murapara village, about 25 km.

south-east of Dhaka on the Narshingdi Road.

The palace at present houses the private

Murapara College and is still in a fairly good

state of preservation.

Construction period

1889-97 CE

2. Owner’s information

Name of the owner

Ramratan Banerjee was the founder of the

Murapara Raj family.

Social identification

Ramratan Banerjee was the then treasurer of

the Natore estate at the end of the 18th

century. Ishana Chandra and Pratap Chandra,

the grand sons of Ramratan extended the

Jamidary. Later on the properties were divided

among the descendents of the Banerjee family.


APPENDIX 577


Owner’s attitude Ramratan, by dint of his honesty and perseverance, uplifted himself and his family to a high status in the society.

3. Description of the building

Site Plan The site is approached by a 4.8 km. long brick paved semi-pakka road from the west of Dhaka-Sylhet Trunk road and is situated on the bank of the river Sitalakhya. Within the perimeter of the palace there are two conspicuous temples. The larger one is on the west by the roadside and the smaller one is facing the south.

Building layout and function The palace complex is arranged around a 30m

open paved courtyard. The west block has a broad frontage of 60m facing the west. An 2.50m wide corridor runs the entire length of the building that provides access to the five large halls measuring 15m 6m in dimension. In the north, there is a single storeyed temple with ‘mandapa’ supported on a ring of six slender Corinthian columns and semi-circular arches over them. There is a two-storeyed inner mahal on the east, with six apartments at ground level and five large halls at the upper floor. On the south there is a series of single­ storeyed apartments.

4. Building style

Organization Organization is courtyard type and is typical of it’s contemporary colonial examples. The two-storeyed west façade has an imposing central porch with a semi-circular arched entrance, decorated by a series of paired Corinthian columns, surmounted by a triangular pediment. The wall surface of the façade is attractively decorated with diverse floral patterns in plasterworks. The southern façade is also relieved with a variety of floral patterns in plaster.

Scale and proportion The western block gives a more prominent

and grandeur image due to it’s imposing central porch.

Expression The floral decorations and the grandeur of the west façade identify it as a local interpretation of the late Renaissance style.


578 ARCHITECTURE


Orders Neo-classical with a Palladian front. The semi circular archways carried on by Corinthian columns in pairs on the flanking wings.

5. Special features

Elements The prominent porch on the western block a semi-circular arched entrance, decorated by a series of paired Corinthian columns, surmounted by a triangular pediment. and the pediments in the wings are the most distinguishing elements.

Material The floors of the Hall rooms are laid in black and white marble and the semi-circular corridor ends are decorated with the green, red and blue tainted glass mosaics in various geometric patterns.

Climatic objects Both frontal and rare verandah proving necessary depth to the building, wooden lattices above lintel level controlling exposure of these verandahs and directing views towards ground reducing the glare causes by tropical cloudy sky.

7. 1. Building information

Name of the building Joydevpur Palace

Location Situated in Gazipur District, about 30 km north­ east of Dhaka via Tongi Industrial area. It is situated at a distance of 4.5 km from Mimensingh and Tangail interaction. The palace at present is acting as the administrative Head quarter of Gazipur District.

Construction period 1838 CE

Area 15 acres

2. Owner’s information

Name of the owner Originally the palace was built by Jaminder

Kali Narayan of then Bhawal Estate.

Social Identification Lakhshi Rrayan, father of Kali Narayan held a

‘Jamindary’ under East India Company in around 1763. The successors of Kali Narayan got entangled in the sensational Bhawal Murder case of 30’s and the properties including the palace became abandoned thereafter.

Owner’s attitude Kali Narayan uplifted his status to a ‘Raja’ by acquiring the Jamindary of Phulbaria and purchasing indigo-planter’s estates of Bhawal.


APPENDIX 579

3. Description of the building:

Site Plan

The palace is approached from the highway at

south. The approach road runs through a

garden area. The astonishing huge palace, the

largest of such kind in Bangladesh, is an

irregular composition of masses containing

360 apartments of various sizes.

Building layout and function

The palace complex is arranged irregularly

around two open paved courtyards. The

southern block arranged around a huge hall

room was called Baro-dalan, specially

reserved for the European Guests. There are

two storeyed apartments around the first and

the second court and the two courts are

separated by a mass of nat mandir. The central

axis through the courts terminates at the

northern most edge of the complex to the

family shrines dedicated for daily religious

rituals. Farther to the north there is a block of

residential apartment and it’s two storeyed

projection known as Rani mahal or harem

towards east-west direction with rounded out­

ward projection to the south.

4. Building style

Organization

Organization is a complex double courtyard

type and is typical of it’s contemporary

colonial examples that incorporates the

incremental expansion of functional

arrangements. The south façade has a double­

storeyed imposing central portico with a semi­

circular arched entrance, decorated by four

paired round columns. The wall surface of the

façade is relatively austere looking devoid of

much decorative plasterworks. The portico is

backed by a wide verandah for circulation

which connects the wide wooden staircase

within the entrance hall on the right.

Scale and proportion

The large scale of the palace with it’s irregular

horizontal direction of expansions gives it’s a

grandeur scale.

Expression

The wall surfaces of the palace façades are

relatively austere looking, devoid of much

decorative plasterworks.


580 ARCHITECTURE

Orders

Neo-classical with Juscon and indigenous

elements. Columns of three different orders

has been used in this palace. There are

rounded paired brick columns used at the

outside facades. Corinthian columns support

some of the interior verandahs and series of

slender Ionic columns supports the semi­

circular arches in the verandah in front of the

family shrine.

5. Special Features

Elements

The grand double-storeyed grand portico in

the southern façade, the semi-circular

projection on the southern side of the Rani

mahal is the most identifying elements of the

palace. The verandah around the first court

has an open terrace above, flanked on either

side by two chouchala shrines.

Climatic objects

The continuous verandahs provide necessary

depth to the building that protects the interior

from the climatic hazards. Wooden lattices

above lintel level controlling exposure of these

verandahs and directing views towards ground

reducing the glare causes by tropical cloudy

sky. Series of balustrades on the parapet ensures

breeze to flow on the roof level so that it can be

used in the hot summer nights.



[[ Other sections:  || Archaeology|| Architecture||  Arts and Crafts||  Cultural history||  || Folklore||  || Indigenous||  || Language & Literature||  || Living traditions||  || State & Culture  ]]