Waqar A Khan

Snippets from our history & heritage

In this write-up, I shall briefly touch upon a few eminent personalities of the past who have enriched the lives of generations through their varied contributions to society in the fields of education, arts, sport and culture.

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Bishop Heber in Dhaka,1824

Bishop Reginald Heber (1783-1826) was an Oxford educated Anglican clergyman from England, a man of letters and a notable hymn-writer. As an intrepid traveler and a curious observer, he has left behind an interesting travelogue entitled: ‘

The day we made a tryst with destiny!

Amar Ekushey (Immortal 21 February) is a day of special significance for us in Bangladesh, as we recall with reverence and gratitude, all those young brave-hearts who made supreme sacrifice by giving up their youthful lives for a noble cause.

Memories of Kabul An Evening to Cherish

It was in Kabul, Afghanistan, on 24th December, 1972, when suddenly in the late afternoon the first snow flurries of the season began.

Maj. Gen. Ishfakul Majid: Soldier & Gentleman

Mohammad Ishfakul Majid was born on 17 March, 1903 in Jorhat, Assam, Bengal Presidency in British India, to an illustrious old

Legacy of the Kumar of Bhawal

Prior to the abolition of Zamindari in East Bengal (Bangladesh) in accordance with the ‘East Bengal State Acquisition and Tenancy Act of 1950’, the Bhawal zamindar estate was the second largest feudal landholding in the Dhaka district.

Early Barristers from East Bengal

The failed Indian rebellion of 1857 also led to the ‘demise’ of the rapacious East India Company (EIC) in 1858, when political power was transferred to the crown-in-parliament in England with the founding of ‘The British Empire in India’ (1858-1947), popularly known today as the British Raj.

Brothers with the lyrical names

I arrived in Islamabad as a schoolboy along with my family from Dhaka in January,1968. The new capital city of Pakistan was still in its nascent stage of development.

The Incorrigible Zulfikar Ali Bhutto

The misdemeanors of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan are legendary.Tomes have already been written about this ‘dark, diabolical prince’ of Larkana, Sind, in Pakistan.

A photographer named Fritz Kapp

It was in the early 1980s, that I became aware of Frederick Fritz Kapp popularly known as Fritz Kapp, a German photographer through his photographs printed in a book published from Calcutta.

When the Gypsies Came to Town

It happened sometime in the winter of 1959. There was a ripple of commotion in the ‘kancha bazaar’ (kitchen market) in Dinajpur town. Someone gave a clarion call, “The gypsies are here. Allah save us! Secure your things.” It was as if a calamity had descended on the small town. Sajeed our domestic servant came running home from the bazaar and excitedly broke the news.

The myth of martial race: Seared into a schoolboy's memory!

The years 1968-1969, were a tumultuous period in the political history of the state of Pakistan. My father a Bengali civil servant from East Pakistan, was an official in the then central government in Islamabad.

Deshpriya Jatindra Mohan & Nellie Sengupta

The following story unfolds in a prominent zamindar (feudal landlord) family of the Senguptas, in the then remote and obscure sleepy little village of Barama,

The Enduring Enigma of Columbo Sahib!

It stands proudly as a silent sentinel - forsaken, forlorn, dilapidated - entwined in the vicious vice-grip of invasive vegetation – serpentine vines and clinging creepers - that threaten to bring it down anytime sooner than later.

The Unforgettable Suhrawardys of Bengal

The spectacular socio-cultural efflorescence known by the sobriquet of ‘Bengal Renaissance’ was an extraordinary period from mid- 19th to early 20th century in Bengal.

When the Dufferins visited Dhaka

The failed Indian Rebellion of 1857, which saw the ultimate triumph of the East India Company, nonetheless also led to its demise and the emergence of the last great colonial empire in modern history- the British Empire in India - popularly known today as the British Raj (1858-1947).

A colossus from Brahmanbaria

The Honorable Justice Nawab Sir Syed Shamsul Huda, KCIE, an illustrious son of Eastern Bengal (Bangladesh) was born in 1862, in the village of Gokarna, formerly in Comilla then a part of Hill Tipperah, in British India.

The Bangladeshi-Armenian Harneys of Dhaka

A brief on the Armenians of Dhaka: Regardless of the absence of any definitive chronicle on the advent of the Armenians in Bengal, particularly to Dhaka, historians today unanimously agree that the Armenians started to arrive in Bengal, from the late 17th century onwards.

Netaji Subhas Bose in Chattogram

I am enamoured of Netaji. I have been since I was a five-year-old, when I had first listened with wide-eyed wonderment about this legendary hero from the elders in my family.

Of reverse travellers and travelogues

This feature article is a sequel to an earlier essay of mine entitled “Early Indian Voyagers to Vilayet” published in The Daily Star. In this essay, I shall briefly mention a few notable Indian travellers who went to Britain, including those who later wrote about their varied exposure and experiences there on their return home to India, between 18th to mid-20th centuries.

The Bastion of the Lalbagh Fort

This essay is largely about the pictorial depiction of the once imposing south-western bastion of the Lalbagh Fort in Old Dhaka, along with a brief history of the fort.

The iconic Marble Palace, Kolkata

On a languid summer afternoon way back in 1973, after a hearty lunch I had settled down comfortably in bed and started to flip through the pages of the latest issue of the prestigious The Illustrated Weekly of India,

Early Indian Voyagers to Vilayet

In this essay the word Vilayet, which originated during the Ottoman empire to specifically mean a geographical area or district, is used to denote Europe in general and, Britain in particular. More recently, Vilayet (Bilat in Bengali) has been further narrowed down to mean England, or even London proper.

The Legendary Tale of The Bhawal Sannyasi

It would be difficult to find someone in this country today who, having grown up in a typical middle-class Bengali household of the 1950s-60s, has not heard of the fabled tale of the Bhawal Sannyasi (a Hindu mendicant) through family sources.

When Hollywood Came Calling!

This fascinating story needs retelling, particularly for the younger generations in Bangladesh, who would take pride in knowing that a fairly sizable portion of one of the most successful...

The Princess of the Punjab

In the summer of 1970, our prestigious Notre Dame College in Dhaka went on recess for three weeks. I was a student there, having recently relocated from Islamabad after my matriculation for a better prospect of a good college education.

The Merchant-Prince Of East Bengal

It was the Dhaka of 1970. Unlike today, it was then a laidback provincial capital city. I was a student at Notre Dame College.

The Fabulous Tagores Of Pathuriaghata, Calcutta

Jorashanko and Pathuriaghata along Chitpur Road used to be the major centres of Bengali arts and culture. Pathuriaghata Street is so named as it once led to a stone-flagged ghat on the Hooghly River.

Sir Charles D'Oyly, 7th Baronet

While posted to Dhaka he invited his friend the accomplished English professional artist George Chinnery (1774–1852) to join him in Dhaka, as his house guest. In their leisure time, the two friends would go around Dhaka looking for exotic rural landscapes and other picturesque subjects, of which there was no dearth in those days.

From the labyrinth of memory

We, the Bangalees in Pakistan were ecstatic with joy. However, soon the reality also dawned upon us that we were stranded in Pakistan. The million dollar question was, when and how shall we all go back to liberated Bangladesh? There would be long months of anxious waiting and uncertainty ahead of us.

Glimpses of Netaji in East Bengal

I had written on Colonel Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon (1914-2006) of the Indian National Army (INA), in an article published in The Daily Star on June 19, 2017 entitled, “A Letter from the Tiger's Den.”

Echoes from Old Bengal

Jnanendra Nath Gupta was born in 1869 in colonial Bengal. His father, Ghanashyamdas Gupta, was a district judge and, therefore, he spent his childhood in various parts of Bengal and Bihar.

A letter from the Tiger's Den

The advent of the holy month of Ramadan, ever since the year 2000 CE, reminds me of an idealistic soul, a gallant freedom fighter against British colonial rule in India, who so graciously replied to my letter, that too, from an unknown.

Indelible Imprints: The Genius from Khulna

Khan Bahadur Qazi Azizul Haque was born in 1872, in the village of Paigram Kasba, Phultala, in the Khulna district of Bengal, British

Rare images of Dhaka's Gurdwara

I spent a part of my impressionable years, that is to say, my boyhood school days in Islamabad, West Punjab, Pakistan.


Swinton on his return to Britain in 1766, writes Taifoor, had taken a certain Mirza Sheikh Itesamuddin of Nadia, Bengal, along with

The saga of an Armenian family of Old Dhaka

Henrietta Aimee Elizabeth Simpson, née Stephen, lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. We were introduced by a mutual friend, the

The Dhaka Masterpiece Paintings

My friend Charles Greig is a distinguished British Art historian and scholar. He was born in 1955 of aristocratic British and