Allure of Old Dhaka | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 11, 2014 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:53 AM, March 08, 2015

Allure of Old Dhaka

Allure of Old Dhaka

Charles D’Oyly, Pagla Pul at Dacca, oil on canvas, 1825-30. Courtesy: The Lawrie Tea Corporation
Charles D’Oyly, Pagla Pul at Dacca, oil on canvas, 1825-30. Courtesy: The Lawrie Tea Corporation

Dhaka began to grow under the imperial Moghuls from 1610 AD as an organised settlement under The Subedhars, who operated under the Delhi based Moghuls.
The independent Muslim Sultanates who ruled this part of the Subcontinent were of Afghan and Turkish origin, and they had arrived long before the Moghuls. Much of the history goes unknown. The history of Dhaka goes back for a thousand years, and not just a few centuries.

William De Fabeck, A Ruined Mosque at Dacca, watercolour, 1863. Courtesy: Victoria and Albert Museum
William De Fabeck, A Ruined Mosque at Dacca, watercolour, 1863. Courtesy: Victoria and Albert Museum

The earliest existing mosque of Old Dhaka was built in 1454 by Bakht Binat, Marhamat's daughter during the rule of Nasiruddin Mahmud Shah (1435-1459). Thus it belongs to the   pre-Moghul period.  It is the oldest existing brick structure. It is situated in the Niranda area. Upon the arrival of Islam, the Turks and Afghans ruled the area from the 14th the century.  An Afghan Fort was built which was converted to the Central Jail in the British Colonial days in 1820. The historian Mirza Nathan described the fort as “surrounded by mud walls and the largest and strongest in pre-Moghul era”.
During the reign of Emperor Akbar, Dhaka was referred to as a Thana (Military outpost)  and Islam Khan, who was newly appointed, successfully crushed the revolt in Jessore , Barisal and Noakhali (Bakla and  Bhulua ). The Muslin fabric was produced and traded in this area, and brought the entire province of Bengal under Moghul rule. The next governor Prince Shuja built the Bara Katra and patronised the building of Hussaini Dalan, The largest expanse of the city took place under Shaista Khan, Aurangzeb's uncle.
The Portuguese made Hoogly their trading centre and were involved in shipping rice, cotton and silk goods. They named several Portuguese churches, such as the Church of Our Lady of Rosary and the Church of our Lady Piety.         

Charles D’Oyly, Mosque on the Buriganga Branch of the Ganges, 1814.
Charles D’Oyly, Mosque on the Buriganga Branch of the Ganges, 1814.

Murshid Quli Khan was the governor of the whole of Bengla. Alavardi Khan (1740- 1756) and Siarajuddauala (1756-1757). They ruled the region from their offices in Murshidabad.
The Dhaka Cantonment was established near the city. Charles Doyle was the collector of Dhaka from 1808 -1811.Paintings depict much of the ruins of Old Dhaka.
The British Crown took direct rule in 1858. Shami bagh (Boshu Bazar) belonged to the Muslims . Tripura Lunga Swami established an ashram in 185.7  
Ruplal house was established through Calcutta's Martin's Company and belonged to Zamindar Aratun. Ruplal Das reconstructed and bought the house through Martin Company.
Gopi Nag Shaha, a rich businessman, established a temple and the area was called thus.
At one time Tikatully was famous for its tea . The area became famous for the manufacture of this item, and the area came to be known as Tikatully.
Dury Angul Lane is Dhaka's ancient area, where clothes were made, and had a lot of clothes makers living here. Nawabpur, earlier known as Umrah Para, where the Moghul elite lived, came to be known as Nawabpur.
Some think that Indira Road was named after the Indian Prime Minister. In fact,   Das Babu had a lot of land. His eldest daughter, who wanted to elope with a British, has her tomb here. The Road is named after her.  At Pilkhana . There was no place to bathe the elephants. The whole of Ramna was thus given to the elephants.

Eid Procession, watercolour, early 19th century, probable artist: Alam Musabbir. Courtesy: Bangladesh National Museum
Eid Procession, watercolour, early 19th century, probable artist: Alam Musabbir. Courtesy: Bangladesh National Museum

 

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