NAME: Lalbagh Fort
At Lalbag Dhaka
In 1678 by Prince Muhammad Azam during his 15-month long vice-royalty of Bengal,
Lalbagh Fort (Bengali: লালবাগ দূর্গ) (also known as "Fort Aurangabad") is an incomplete Mughal palace fortress at the Buriganga River in the southwestern part of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Construction was commenced in 1678 by Prince Muhammad Azam during his 15-month long vice-royalty of Bengal, but before the work could complete, he was recalled by Aurangzeb. His successor, Shaista Khan, did not complete the work, though he stayed in Dhaka up to 1688. His daughter Iran Dukht nicknamed Pari Bibi (Fairy Lady) died here in 1684 and this led him to consider the fort to be ominous.
Lalbagh Fort is also the witness of the revolt of the native soldiers against the British during the Great Rebellion of 1857. As in the Red Fort in India, they were defeated by the force led by the East India Company. They and the soldiers who fled from Meerat were hanged to death at the Victoria Park. In 1858 the declaration of Queen Victoria of taking over the administrative control of India from the Company was read out at the Victoria park, latter renamed Bahadur Shah Park after the name of the last Mughal Emperor who led that greatest rebellion against then British empire.
Layout of fort
The fort was long considered to be a combination of three buildings:
the mosque; the tomb of Bibi Pari; and -the Diwan-i-Aam, comprising two gateways and a portion of the partly damaged fortification wall.
Recent excavations carried out by the Department of Archaeology of Bangladesh, however, they have revealed the existence of other structures, and it is now possible to have a more or less complete picture of the fort.
In the present fort area of 18 acres (73,000 m²), excavations have revealed the remains of either 26 or 27 structures, with elaborate arrangements for water supply, sewerage, roof gardens, and fountains. Renovation work by the Archaeology Department has now put Lalbagh Fort in a much-improved shape, and it has now become an interesting spot for tourists and visitors.
f the three surviving gateways, the southern one is the most imposing. Seen from the front, it is a three-storeyed structure with a front-on, bordered with slender minarets. From inside, it gives the impression of a two-storeyed structure. The gateway on the northeast is a much smaller and simpler structure. Structural evidence indicates that the fort extended to the eastern side, beyond the present Shaista Khan Road. The third gate, now in the centre of the northern boundary wall, was left incomplete. The present one is a recent construction.
Southern fortification wall
The southern fortification wall, running westward from the South Gateway, stretches up to the huge bastion in the southwestern corner of the fort. It runs northward for a distance, and is then lost. The boundary wall on the eastern side, connecting the southern and northern gateways, is a modern wall, and it is now assumed that the fort originally embraced areas further east, beyond the present Shaista Khan Road. h
On the northern side of the southern fortification are placed utility buildings, such as the stable, the administrative block, and its western part accommodates a beautiful roof-garden, with arrangements for fountains and a water reservoir. The residential part is located on the eastern side of the western fortification, mainly to the south-west of the mosque, where the remains of a sewerage line have been found.
*The southern fortification is a twin wall:
the outer one is about 6.10 m high and 1.37 m thick; and the inner one is 13.7 m high with same thickness.
The two are solid up to a height of 6.10 m, and there are regular openings in the upper part of the inner wall.
The original fortification wall on the south has five bastions at regular intervals, and the western wall has two. Among the seven bastions, the biggest one is near the main southern gate at the back of the stable, which occupies the area to the west of the gateway. The bastion has an underground tunnel. Among the five bastions of the southern fortification, the central one is single-storeyed, while the rest are double-storeyed structures. The central one contains an underground room with verandahs on three sides, and it can be approached either from the riverside or from its roof. The double-storeyed bastion at the southwestern corner of the fort is possibly a Hawakhana, with a water reservoir on its roof.
Two lines of terracotta pipes have been found that connect all the establishments of the fort with the reservoir. An extra-strong terracotta pipe line, made with double pipes (one inside the other), has been uncovered in the area between the Hammam and the tomb of Bibi Pari. Rooftop garden
The area westwards from the stable, parallel to the southern fortification, once had a beautiful roof garden with fountain, rose, flower beds (marked with star designs), and a water reservoir. The buildings underneath contains the administrative blocks, and the residential part on the western side.
The double-storeyed Diwan-i-Aam, attached with a single-storeyed Hammam on its west, is an imposing building. The Hammam complex includes an open platform, a small kitchen, an oven, water storage area, a masonry brick bath-tub, a toilet, a dressing room and an extra room. The Hammam portion has an underground room for boiling water, and a passage for sweepers. A long partition wall runs north-south along the western facade of the Hammam, dividing the whole fort area into two divisions.
Tomb of Bibi Pari
The tomb of Bibi Pari, located in the center, is the most impressive of the surviving buildings of the fort. Eight rooms surround a central square room that contains the mortal remains of Bibi Pari. The central room is covered by a false octagonal-shaped dome, wrapped by a bronze plate.
The entire inner wall of the central room is covered with white marble, while the four rooms at the sides had stone skirting up to a height of one metre. The walls in the rooms at the four corners are skirted with beautifully-glazed floral tiles. The tiles have recently been restored; two of the original tiles have been retained. The room at the south eastern corner contains a small grave, popularly known to be of that of Shamsad Begum, possibly a relative of Bibi Pari.
The archaeological excavations have also revealed strata of the Sultanate, as well as of the pre-Muslim periods, from where terracotta heads and plaques have been found. Thus, it is now justified to say that though the Mughals founded Dhaka, it was definitely inhabited long before the Muslims came to Bengal.