Ahsan Manzil – Standing Proud
Ahsan Manzil is considered to be one of the most noteworthy architectural monuments in Bangladesh. This magnificent building is situated on the banks of the Buriganga River that flows beside Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. Ahsan Manzil was previously the official palace of the Dhaka Nawab family and is currently a museum preserving the culture and history of the area.
The palace has a colorful and varied history, starting off as a residence of Sheikh Enayetullah and going on to become a French trading centre before being bought from the French in 1830 by Nawab Khwaja Alimullah and converted into his residence. The final construction work was done under the command of Nawab Khwaja Abdul Ghani, who gave it the name of Ahsan Manzil. On 7 April 1888 severe damage was caused to Ahsan Manzil by a tornado, and during reconstruction work the dome was added, giving the building an even more distinctive appearance. An earthquake damaged the building again on 12 June 1897, but the damage was once again repaired.
Khwaja Salimullah was appointed as Nawab of Dhaka in 1901 and Ahsan Manzil became the base for all his political activities. Nawab Khwaja Salimullah was the initiator of the political party known as All India Muslim League (AIML) which led to the creation of Pakistan as a Muslim state. Nawab Khwaja Salimullah was one of the main founders of the Dhaka University, the Salimullah Medical College of Dhaka and the Salimullah Muslim Hall of Dhaka University.
With changes in the political climate the Dhaka Nawab State fell away and financial constraints made it impossible for the successors of the Nawabs to maintain the huge palace buildings. Over the years, the palace was taken over by illegal occupants and became a slum. Fortunately, the government of Bangladesh recognized the architectural and historical value of Ahsan Manzil and in 1985 the building and its surroundings were purchased with the aim of a complete restoration. The renovations were completed in 1992 and Ahsan Manzil was established as a museum attraction.
Today visitors to Bangladesh have the opportunity to see the beautifully restored and preserved Ahsan Manzil in all its grandeur while they reflect on the activities that took place there in the past that were instrumental in shaping nations.