Panam Nagar was once a thriving city in Sonargaon, bustling with life. The city, believed to have been founded in late 13th century, got preferential treatment from rulers over the centuries because of its strategic location.
Sonargaon was the capital of 15th-century Bengal ruler Isa Khan. It used to be an important trading and political centre, and boasted architectures of the Sultanate, Mughal, and colonial periods.
But time took its toll on it, and the city was eventually abandoned. Once a prosperous city, Panam Nagar has now turned into a 'ghost town'. Anyone visiting the place now can get glimpses of its lost grandeur through the relics of ancient buildings and scattered terracotta.
Panam Nagar keeps losing its appeal -- and its gorgeous structures -- due to lack of maintenance and preservation work. In 2006, the World Monument Fund listed it as one of the world's 100 most endangered historical establishments.
There are many historical memories in Panam Nagar that are about to fade away. Structural failure is also evident in some buildings. It may not be possible to preserve the area without swift restoration work.
Researcher Shamsuddoha Chowdhury said brick chips and outer layers were falling off from the buildings due to a lack of preservation and restoration.
Two years ago, Korean company Youngone Corporation expressed interest to fund and carry out the restoration. But they could not reach an understanding with Bangladesh's Department of Archaeology over whether the site would remain open to tourists during the work.
This prevented the two sides from signing a contract, officials at Archaeology Department said.
Back in 2001, the archaeology department took an initiative to carry out restoration on Panam City. Fifty-two buildings -- and eventually the city -- were freed from unauthorised occupation in 2009.
The repair work on several buildings started with an initial budget of Tk 50 lakh. But restoration attempts by applying layers of lime and brick dust destroyed the archaeological beauty of nine buildings.
The botchy repairs were finally put on hold after stiff opposition from locals and a team of experts from Jahangirnagar University.
Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Sonargaon Shahinur Islam said the cultural affairs ministry has already taken initiatives to preserve the city.
“Five buildings will initially be renovated. The ministry has already contacted a foreign company,” he said, hoping the restoration will begin soon.