Bangladesh has a very rich historical background. From the very beginning, the country has been ruled by some of the most powerful emperors from ancient times. These rulers have built the most beautiful palaces of elegant design which can compete with any modern architectural wonders. Your tour to Bangladesh will remain incomplete if you don’t visit these wonderful castles. The Ahsan Manzil and Lalbagh Fort are two such places. Following the lead of a local tour guide, you can enjoy your visit to the fullest.
The reason behind putting these two places in the same passage is because of their location. They are located very close to each other in Old Dhaka, on the bank of the river Buriganga (the Ganges). Ahsan Manzil stands on Kumortoli, Ahsanullah road while the Lalbagh Fort is located in a place named Lalbagh. Roads to these wonderful places are extremely narrow and congested. Motorized and non motorized vehicles move on the same road. You’ll require the assistance of a tour guide to reach your destination safely.
Built in the year 1872, this pink palace has one of the most beautiful architectural designs you’ll ever see. The huge complex will give you a clear idea about the lifestyle of the then rulers of Dhaka city. It was basically the residence of Nawab Abdul Gani, who renovated the original garden house of Landlord Sheikh Enayet Ullah and named it after his son Khaza Ahsanullah. The whole castle has been rebuilt in the late 1980’s to save it from oblivion and has now been turned into a national museum.
The Ahsan Manzil truly epitomizes the rich cultural superiority of Bangladesh. It has established itself as one of the best architectural monuments in the world. Every year a large number of tourists come to Dhaka to have a glance at this majestic palace. The beauty and hugeness of the castle spell bounds most of its visitors. The dome shaped design of the structure depicts the one pictured in the “Arabian Nights”. The huge structure directly faces the river Ganges. If you sit on the front staircase, gentle breeze of the river will cool the core of your heart.
The main castle is comprised of two parts; the eastern side with the dome is known as “Rong Mahal” and the western building is known as the “Ondor Mahal”. The tour guide will show you around the large state room, drawing rooms, library, card rooms and two guest rooms of the eastern building. The gorgeous dining hall, the ball room and few other smaller rooms are located in the western side. The drawing room is decorated with beautiful artificial wooden ceiling. The fabulous darbar hall or assembly room catches the eyes of most of the tourists. In the store room you will find all the valuables that the Nawabs used.
The tour guide will show you the portraits of all the Nawabs hanging on the wall with description of their reigns. The architectural design of the stairs is of the very highest quality. The railings of the stairs are decorated with vine leaves. The floors and walls of the verandas and rooms are made of marbles and the doors are placed within circular arches. The multicolored doors and wooden beams add to the beauty of the structure. The dome is so elegantly designed that the octagonal shape looks like the bud of a lotus.
The whole place is flooded with visitors on weekends. People come with their family and friends to enjoy the scenic beauty of the palace. You can also enjoy boat trips on the river Ganges at a very minimal cost. Although photography is prohibited inside the buildings, you can take pictures of the places surrounding the castle. Your tour guide will help you manage the whole trip and make your stay there a memorable one.
Lalbagh fort was established in 1678 by Prince Muhammad Azam, the then Viceroy of Bengal. He was the son of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. The castle is also known as the “Fort of Aurangbad”. Later, Muhammad Azam was summoned back by his father and the next Subadhar of Dhaka Shaista Khan did not continue the Construction work of the fort. After the death of his daughter, Shaista Khan thought that the place is cursed and left the structure incomplete.
Pari Bibi still rests peacefully in her tomb, which is located in one of the three main structures of the fort. There is a beautiful fountain and gardens surrounding her tomb. Some of the historians believe that, she was engaged to Prince Muhammad Azam at the time of her death. The Diwan-i-aam or the office room and the bath of Nawab Shaista Khan have now been turned into a museum.
The fort has many secret passages and chambers. The maze like palace will give you a very thrilling experience. Only local tour guides know where these passages will lead you to. These were mainly built to get away safely during the time of war if required. You’ll also find a ginormous mosque within the main complex. In the main castle, weapons, clothes and other valuables of the 17th century are kept safely.
Your tour guide will show you three main gateways to enter into the castle. The Ganges can be seen from the southern gate, Like Ahsan Manzil, the Lalbagh fort is also very popular among local and foreign tourists. The place remains open from Sunday to Friday. Old Dhaka is very famous for its foods and you’ll see a queue of restaurants in front of the Fort serving fast foods and delicious cuisines. The visitors here are mostly students of different universities.
These two enchanting castles will make you feel like; somehow you have travelled through time and reached the medieval ages like the ones you have read about in the story books. These are two of the principal tourist attractions of Dhaka city. For an informative and convenient visit, you are advised to contact a local guide before arriving.
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