Renovation work of Ahsan Manzil seems unending by Parvin Khaleda

August 4, 2010

Ahsan Manzil, one of the key tourist attractions of Dhaka, has partially been made off-limits to visitors due to renovation works, which show no sign of ending.
Five years rolled by since the authorities initiated renovation of the 18th century pink majestic building in July 2003. The work was scheduled to complete in June 2005.
The construction firm was later given one more year, which also lapsed two years back.
No renovation work is seen now, and entry is still restricted to a major portion of the palace complex to the discontent of both local and foreign tourists.
The National Museum authority, which took over the charge of maintaining the relic of Dhaka’s famous Nawab family near the Buriganga river, does not have any answer and points finger at the Public Works Department, saying the PWD was responsible for the renovation work at a cost Tk 3 crore.
‘They [PWD] can’t say when the work will be completed,’ said Alamgir Hossain, deputy director of the museum……
The Ahsan Manzil has more than 3,000 pieces in its treasure, but all have been left in the store room due to lack of accommodation of the Andar Mahal gallery.
Garbage was found dumped here and there, and long corridors bore marks of poor cleansing and maintenance.
The Manzil, one of the most significant architectural monuments of old Dhaka, was established on a one-metre high platform. The two-storied palace measures 125.4 m by 28.75 m.
The palace of Mughal architecture was actually housed on 10 acres of land, but the area was reduced with the passage of time and changes in ownership.
The government acquired 4.94 acres of land where the main palace is now situated and declared it a museum.
The main entrance of the palace is out of the government acquired land. The original entrance’s design has the touch of Mughal architecture.
The palace was the residence of the Dhaka’s nawabs. Nawab Abdul Gani renovated the building in 1872 and named it after his son Khwaza Ahasanullah.
It has 31 rooms with a huge dome atop which could be seen from miles around. The palace has now 23 galleries in 31 rooms displaying traits, furniture and household articles and utensils used by the Nawab.
History says this building was actually built during the reign of the Mughals and changed hands several times later. Each of the owners reconstructed the building according to their own necessity. Therefore, the building lost many of its original features.
Still, the palace has many things to boast and offers tremendous attraction for the local and foreign tourists. It receives about 2,000 people, two per cent of them being foreigners, every day.
In winter, peak season for tourists, and on public holidays, the number of visitors increases up to 5,000, says the museum’s record book.
However, tourists are to confine their interest to a small portion, which is now open to them…..
Source: New Age Aug 25 2008

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