Sonargaon’s Deserted City – Panam Nagar

Located about a half a kilometer away from the Sonargaon Folk Art Museum, Panam Nagar is well worth a visit when exploring this region of Bangladesh. Dating back to the late-13th century when the city was the focal point of the Deva Dynasty, this now deserted city was later developed by the Mughal Empire, becoming home to middle- and upper-class families at that time. Elaborate two and three floor buildings line the single main street, though sadly time and the elements have taken their toll on the structures. Nonetheless, visitors can get a sense of the grandeur the city once had when it was bustling with the activities of daily life.

The architecture of Panam Nagar is varied, with single, free-standing buildings, and rows of semi-detached homes. The street runs from east to west, with buildings facing north and south. Some of the buildings are built around a central hall, while others have a central open courtyard. There is also a huge mansion consisting of 204 rooms. External embellishments are interesting, with arched doorways and windows being a popular theme. Some have pillars supporting balconies, and many have covered entranceways, but all lead directly onto the street. Decorative carvings adorn many of the pillars, some with intricate details, and patterned latticework can be seen on some of the balconies.

Panam Nagar remained occupied, primarily by Hindu communities, until the migration of Hindus to India following the Indo-Pakistani war which took place between April and September 1965, and the subsequent Muslim-Hindu conflicts.

As the oldest capital of Bengla, Sonargaon has a number of important landmarks relating to its ancient Hindu roots, including two traditional holy bathing places – Panchamighat and Langalbandh – on the west bank of the old Brahmaputra river. Visitors may also want to spend some time at the Folk Art Museum housed in a majestic home built in 1901. The one entrance to the museum is embellished with blue and white mosaics, while the other has life-sized stucco horsemen on either side. Displays include brass, wood, bamboo and metal crafts, as well as pottery, textiles, ornaments, musical instruments and more, offering insight into the history and culture of this picturesque region of Bangladesh.