GLIMPSES OF OLD DHAKA
Short Historical Narration of East Bengal and Aassam
with special treatment of Dhaka (Revised and Enlarged Second Edition)
not if the pearls are scattered unstrung; they only await
to be re-strung in better order".
This edition was published in
1956 and should be read in that context
A Reminiscence (page
322 to page 331) ….
The history of the modern city of Dhaka
will remain incomplete if the forgotten incidents connected with the ancestors
of the present Nawab family of Dhaka
are not left on records. Towards the end of the Nineteenth Century of the
Christian Era Kashmiri and Persian merchants had thriving commercial relations
with East Bengal especially with the districts of Dhaka,
Sylhet and Bakergunj where
they had extensive trade in salt and raw hides.
The warden of the much of this house named Khajeh Abdul Wahab was one of
those Kashmiri adventurers who migrated to Sylhet
from Delhi in
about 1756. That was the time of a great upheaval in Hindustan on account of
the last attack upon Delhi
by Ahmed Shah Durrany. In Sylhet
Abdul Wahab established a prosperous trade on shawls,
furs and hides. Sometimes after they started indigo trade in
partnership with some Europeans. They were already rich merchants and
this additional trade in indigo brought about a windfall to their fortune.
Their residence in Sylhet occupied a portion of the
area where now the Sylhet court buildings stand.
Towards the close of the Eighteenth Century two
brothers of this family named Khajeh Hafizullah and Khajeh Ahsanullah moved down to Dhaka city and settled in the
place called Purab Darwazeh,
where the battered remains of their
walls could still be seen.
In about 1813 Khajeh Ahsanullah left for Mecca
for pilgrimage after leaving his son Khajeh Alimullah
in charge of his uncle Khajeh Hafizullah.
Ahsanullah died in Mecca. He was a very learned man and
possessed a spiritual trend of mind. He had initiated many disciples in Dhaka. It was Khajeh Hafizullah who started investing his wealth by purchasing
estates of some hereditary muslim
zemindars of East Bengal
who were then on the verge of collapse. Thereafter many other muslim nobilities of Bengal entrusted their wealth and wakf
properties to Alimullah, and made him the Mutwalli of their properties. All these estates spread over
the districts of Dhaka, Mymensingh,
Bakergunj, Tipperah and Pabna. His successor added some more estates to them. The
gross income of these estates came to about 24 lacs
of rupee per year. Khajeh Alimullah
died in 1854. In about
1835 Khajeh Alimullah purchased the French factory buildings on the
riverbank at Kumartuli which is now known as Ahsan Munzil. Before French
people one Sheikh InayetuIlah,
a luxurious zeminder of Jalaldi-Faridpur, had his
palatial buildings on this site which was generally known as "Rung-Mahal"
(i. e. palace of pleasue). Inayetullah's son
Sheikh Mutiullah sold out this land to the French
people. Inayetullah's tomb is also within the
compound of this building. The big round shaped tank situated to the north-west
of Ahsan Munzil was known
as "Lewis Jalla”
in French time. This was afterwards extended and brought to its present shape.
The western zenana block of
Ahsun Munzil which was of
oldest constructions, crashed down in the great tornado of 1889 (7th April at
7. 30 p. m.). The violence of
this tornado was confined alone to the river bank area of this district. The
writer's grandfather had informed him that he along with other gentries of this
city took part in pulling out from the debris a prominent member of the Nawab family.
the gentleman only got fainted and escaped with some slight injuries. Both
Abdul Ghani and Ahsanullah
narrowly escaped a disaster as the building fell down immediately after they ran
out. Southern veranda and the street side Naobet Khana fell down in the earthquake of
1897. The time-honoured Naobet
lastly chimed its tunes on the gateway at the request of Lord Curzon during
1905-1906. Soon after this incident all the European officials appeared on the
scene and Nawab Abdul Ghani
presented them a cheque for 25 thousand rupees for
immediate relief measures. The whole of Ahsan Munzil was reconstructed and renovated in 1872 under the
supervision of Nawah Abdul Ghani
himself, who named the building after his favorite son Khajeh
Ahsanullah. In the same year he contributed sixty
thousand rupees towards building the Ahsanullah
Female Ward in the Mitford
(page 25) …..
The English commercial agency was established in Dhaka in 1669 in some thatched houses in Tejgaon. At that time one Mr. Pratt was the English Agent.
The officer served under Mirr Jumla
on Rs. 500 per month. He was in charge of
construction and supervision of war boats and equipments for Mir Jumla's Assam
expedition and additionally he also did the Company's work. Some years after,
they built a pucca house in Tejgaon
in order to protect the Company goods from repeated fires. Most of the Agency
buildings in Tejgaon fell down in the earthquake that
occurred on the 10th & 11th April, 1812. In 1830 the Company constructed a
new building in the city itself which is at present occupied by the State Bank
Although the French people were the first to, come to Bengal for trade; but in Dhaka they started their factory in 1726 in Tejgoan. Later, they shifted to the city proper in Kumartuli on the river bank. When the British and French
were at war the building was occupied by English people; but was soon after
released under the treaty of 1783. Their factory and
grounds were afterwards purchased by Khajeh Alimollah in about 1835 when they added more buildings to
it which are now known as "AhsenMunzil."
In 1740 the French people obtained permission from the then Nayeb-Nazim Nawazish Muhammed Khan to establish a 'Gunj'
(market) in Dhaka. The area is now known as Farashgunj. French people till then mainly traded in Dhaka
Nawab Gaziuddin Firoz Jung (Page
Nawab Gaziuddin Firoz Jung began to suffer from Gout and other dirty
diseases and died childless of apoplexy in 1844, ….Nawab's
properties were sold by public auction. The gorgeous state howdahs of the
dynasty with heavy silver mounting upon scarlet bonnet, was purchased by the Basakh weavers of Dhaka
who exhibited them in their Janmashtami processions.
Many precious and unique jewelry of the house entered o several rich people's
houses in Dhaka. A
precious emerald called "Dariya-e- Noor" is said
to have been purchased by Khajeh Alimullah,
the ancestor o the present nawab.
Husainy Dalan (page 161)……
It is said that in Shuja's
time the famous Husainy Dalaan
(House of morning for Hazrat Husain) was constructed
in Dhaka in 1642 by one Mir Murad .Mir Murad is reported to have been the chief of the royal 'nawara' (fleet of boats). The Imambara
is maintained out of an endowment administered by the government from which a
yearly grant of Rs.2500 is paid on account of Muharram ceremonies to the darogha of the Dalan. Besides this sum the estate of the present Nawab of Dhaka contributes Rs.
1285 per year from their wakf fund for ceremonial
On the extinction of the Nawab-Nazems of Dhaka the
late Khajeh Alimullah and
his direct descendents became the Mutawalli of the Imambara. The
building is now preserved under the Monument Preservation Act……..
people of Dhaka (page 341) ….
Mr.Aratoon was an Armenian and was popularly known as "'Shaoqeen
Aratoon' and was entitled as Khajeh.
He had a. big residential building in Farashgunj on
the riverbank where he lived in great luxury. Cock-fighting, pigeon-flying and
kite-flying were his favorite hobbies. He was a zemindar
of perganah Husainshahi in Mymensingh. His descendants sold
out the estates to Khajeh AlimuIIah.
They spread out to Calcutta
and lived there as big merchants. …
Armenaians in Dhaka (page 351, 352) ….
In rawhide trade Armenians, Iraians,
and Kashmiri Khajehs were the pioneers in Bengal. Towards the close the Eighteenth century they
started this trade in Bakergunj, a port town of Barisal district. When their business expanded they moved down to Dhaka and made this place important centre of hide-trade.
The Armenian Mr. Nekie Pagose
Lived in the Wise House on the Wise Ghat road. When Pagose shifted
to the "Nekie Sahib Kothi"
in Armanitola one Mr. Wise a zemindar
and an Indigo planter lived in this house and named it "Wise House". The famous
antiquarian civil Surgeon of Dhaka named Dr. J. P. Wise also lived in this
house. After that it remained to be the residence of Nawab of Dhaka's Chief Manager. At present it is occupied by the BulBul Academy of Fine Arts. ….
Industry & Commerce (page 76
Yet another highly profitable
trade in Dhaka is the raw hide industry. The
trade had maintained the monopoly of Muslims in as much as Hindus would not
touch cow hides owing to religious prejudice. Persians, Kashmiri Khajehs
and some Armenians initiated its commerce in Bakargunj
district towards the close of the eighteenth
purchased raw hides and after preliminary treatment shipped them to many countries
of the World. They afterwards started this business in Nalgola
in Dhaka in the premises now occupied by Dada Ltd. Khajeh Alimollah and his son Khajieh
Abdul Ghani, predecessors of the present Nawab family in company with some Persians conducted this business
here. They sold their share to one .Haji Battu of Bangshal. …..
Muhammed Azam Shah Bahadur-The fortress of Aurangabad
Immediately on coming to Dhaka the
prince started building the fortress palace
of Aurangabad, better
known as Lalbagh Qila in
1678. Correctly speaking it is not a fort but a palace-fortress with ramparts
and bastions. It was perhaps the intention of Aurangzeb to permanently install
one of the princes in far-flung Dhaka and to
accommodate whom he ordered to build this palace. The prince would have left
the building as a most imposing monument of the empire had he not been called
away in the middle of its construction. It is said that at the time of his
departure he requested Shaesta Khan who succeeded him
to complete the work in a befitting way. …..
…. Prince Azam however stayed in the old fort in the Central Jail
Compound where he held his durbar in the 'Forty-pillared Hall' (Dewan-e-Chihil-Satun) which was earlier built by Shaesta Khan. There is a square shaped reservoir with
concrete edging measuring 236 x 235. The tank has been re-excavated by the Police
Department and a modern landing ghat made towards its
south. The hammam has now disappeared and the durbar
hall has now been converted into a Police seargent's
quarter. The whole fort enclosure measures 800 x 2000 feet. It was subsequently made a wakf-endowment
by Shaesta Khan. Later on, his heirs and
representatives gave it over as a permanent lease to a local committee on a
yearly rental of rupees sixty only. The deed was signed on the 2nd November
1844. It was witnessed by the following prominent * citizens of Dhaka
and was executed by Mazherali Khan and Saliha Khanum daughter of Raushanali Khan. The witnesses were:- Mr. Wise, Capt. Chhawatmull, Dr. Taylor, Capt. Winston, Mr. Aratoon, Khajeh Alimullah, Mirza Ghulam Pir, Brajomohon
Ray, Nundolal Dutta and Mritunjay Singh.
Nawab Sir Khajeh Abdul Ghani, K. C. S. I. (page 322 to page 331)
Khajeh Alimullah had two sons namely, Khajeh
Abdul Hakim and Khajeh Abdul Ghani
born of different wedlocks. Khajeh
Abdul Hakim's son, Khajeh Abdul Alim,
was born of Alimullah's first wife, and from his
second wife Khajeh Abdul Ghani
was born 1813. Having won affection and trust of Alimullah,
Abdul Ghani was the head of the family on account of
his honesty, and high popularity, He was a very learned man and patron of arts
and letters. All the musical talents of both sexes and
meritorious Persian and Urdu poets of this used to get allowances from his
estate. On account of cordiality and liberal manners he drew respects
and admiration from one and all. Although he was not a ruling prince yet the
Viceroys and provincial magnates treated him like a ruling prince. In 1867 he
became a member of the Viceroy's Council. Bradly Birt has included the name of Nawab Abdul Ghani in his book
entitled "Twelve men of Bengal".
In 1875 both Abdul Ghani
and his son Ahsanullah were made Nawabs
and in 1817 this title was made hereditary for the eldest male member of the
line. In 1876 he was made a K. C. S. I.
He made several contributions towards beneficent and charitable
works, not only in this city and elsewhere in Bengal, but also beyond India. He paid
handsomely towards reconstruction of the Zubedunnahar
of Mecca, and
for relief of the sufferers of the Russo-Turkish War. Every year they paid free
passage money to a large number of pilgrims to Mecca as an act of virtue and often paid
princely donations to flood and famine funds. In this way he stretched his
helping hands to the needy, especially those who had seen heydays of life but
had fallen to evil times.
The water works of Dhaka, foundation of which was
laid by Lord Northbrook in 1875 have proved to be of lasting benefit to
the people of Dhaka. As the result of this
munificence the people will always bless his soul. In order to keep up the joys
and cheers of the people he encouraged fetes and patronized sports and
The famous Dhaka races were introduced by them with the help of
their Englishman Manager, Mr. G. L.
Garth, in which the horses of Calcutta Turf also took part. The writer
remembers their famous jockeys named Ramshaw and Robinson,
who took part in Dhaka races. On two occasions
their ponies named "Dariyabaz" and "Shahin-Shah" had won - the Viceroy's
Cup in Calcutta.
Those were not the ragged pony races of to-day. Abdul Ghani had a number of local wrestlers under his. employ, who entertained
people of Dhaka by demonstration of their
physical feats. From the 1st of January, 1877 onward, every New Year their delightful "Shah Bagh"
garden wore a gala appearance where music and dancing by famous public women of
Dhaka entertained the visitors. Abdul Ghani had a Chae-Khana (tea hall) on the riverbank where every morning
from 8 to 10 he treated people with tea. He took advantage of this opportunity
to hear grievances of the people, and took measures to remedy them.
Abdul Ghani died in 1896 at
the age of 82 years. The writer remembers to have accompanied his cortege which
was followed by no less than one lac of people most of
whom had tears in their eyes. The writer has a charming recollection of their
lavish oriental tables, their smart cavalry guards (then called Turuk-Sawar)
with drawn swords, and the pomp and glitter of their assemblies and liveries.
Yet then everything looked silent, orderly and disciplined contrary to the
present times when disorder and chaos seem to be the order of the time. Their
delightfully laid out gardens at Shahbagh, Dilkusha, Motijheel and their
country houses and hunting grounds in Narayangunj and
Baigun bari with
zoological sections and gushing fountains are now all withered, blighted and
waste. They maintained a costly Portuguese
Band Party, who entertained the guests on festive occasions with their
European tunes. All of them were later on disbanded. The writer remembers his
condescending blue eyes which divulged benevolence and human sympathies.
Muslins or Mull Mull of Dhaka (page 53) ….
Even in the year 1885 Nawab
Sir Abdul Ghani of Dhaka,
to the then prince of Wales (afterwards
Edward Ill) three thans of Muslins, specially made to
order in Dhaka.
Each than contained 10 yards and weighed 9.5 tolas.
Another school was started in Dhaka by a Muslim donor. It was Abdul Ghany
But owing to its bad Entrance results and equally bad administration it closed
down after dragging on a ragged existence for 17 or 18 years.
On the first August, 1864 Dhaka Municipality
was inaugurated with the Collector Mr. Skinner as its Chairman. Its members
were nominated by government. Amongst its members were
Khajeh Abddul Ghani and his son Khajeh Ahsenollah and Syed Abdullah (brother of Nawab Mir Muazzem Hussain of Shaestabad with a
number of Hindu gentlemen mostly of the banker class of the city).
From 1884 the system of elected members with a
non-official Chairman were introduced. Under this scheme Babu
Ananda Chandra Ray the leading lawyer of Dhaka became its Chairman. After
Ananda Chandra Ray, Nawab Khajeh Muhammed Yousuf Khan Bahadur became its
Chairman. The Municipal office was first established in Wise Ghat road. District Board Office was established in anta-ghur maidan in the building of
the Armenian Club-since demolished to widen the Victoria Park. Nawab Yousuf continued as
Chairman till his death in 1923. ….
Mausoleum of Shah Ali Baghdadi (page 78 &79)….
In Mirpur, about 8 mmiles north-west of the city on the bend of Turag river (a tributary of Booriganga) is the mausoleum of Shah Ali Baghdadi. A 'urs' and a fair is held here in
the month of Zil-hajj, where a large number of
devotees attend. He was a celebrated saint who died here in about 1577 after a
chillah of 40 days and was buried here in the
dilapidated mosque of Bengal's King .Sultan Fateh Shah's time. The Mausoleum was reconstructed by Sufi
Shah Muhammedi of Mughbazar
Khanqah in the time of Nawab
Nusret Jung Nayib-Nazim of Dhaka. Tradition goes to say that the Shah was a prince
of Baghdad who
being disgusted of gay and glamorous life dedicated himself to the missionary
services of Islam.
In course of his itinery he came to Mirpur and settled down there. …..Attached
to the mausoleum are a mosque and a refectory constructed by the liberality of Nawb Sir Abdul Ghani of Dhaka …
tomb of Shah Ne'matullah Buthshiken (page 81-82)..
There is an old Pathan
mosque in Dilkusha
Garden of the Nawab of Dhaka.
This place was formerly known as Shahar
Khilgaon. It was an old pre-Moghal
site. River Kamalapur- a tributary of Lakhia, flowed down this place.On
the northern side of the mosque there is the stepped tomb of Shah Ne'matullah Buthshiken and in
the same line there are two other stepped tombs of some saints of the same
period. The tombs are caught up by huge banian trees.
Tradition says that when the Hindus carried their idols for breathing in the
river the images automatically fell down and broke to pieces on account of the
effect of the Sufi's spiritual power. The Sufi is therefore known as 'Buthshiken' (iconoclast).
Qadam Rasul Mosque (page 345 & page 346)…
Qadam Rasul is
a pre-Moghal shrine in Dhaka
district, situated on Lakhia river in the village called Nabigunj
in perganah Rasulpur .Travellors would be attracted to the place by a colourful building standing upon a high ground (called Damdama). Like many such mausoleums in indo Pakistan
the shrine contains a footprint upon a black stone which is said to be the
foot-print or prophet Muhammed. In 1580 it was
installed here by Masum Khan Kabuli, the general of Isa Khan's army. Islam Khan, Shah Jahan
and other princes and umera used to pay their respect
to shrine on their way to and from Dhaka city.
Ihtemam Khan commander of
the Moghal fleet of Islam Khan who, died in Sarail of Mymensingh district was
buried in this place. There is a small mosque, a ruined hujra
and a langerkhana (reflectory)
here. Shah Shuja assigned 80 bigha
of land in the vicinity of the shrine for the, upkeep of the mosque. Nawab Nusret Jung of Dhaka visited this mosque off and on and used to keep up
his nights of vigil and devotion in this hujra
(chamber). The Nawab took a goodd
deal of interest for the upkeep of the shrine. The shrine was originally
constructed, by Dewan Manawwer
Khan, great grandson of Isa Khan Musnud-e-Ala.
Formerly a big mela used to be held in the compound
of the shrine in the month of Rabi-ul-awwal.
The estate of the present Nawab of Dhaka contributed yearly a good sum of money after
its repairs and celebrations
The Mosque of Furrukhsiyar (page 227)…
Furrukhsiyar started building of the Jama mosque of Lalbagh situated within a few yards of the southern gateway
of the fort. But its construction was left incomplete, especially its roof
which remained covered by wooden planks. In about 1870
Nawab Sir Abdul Ghani of Dhaka (then called Ghani mian) contributed a large sum of money from his wakf fund for construction of its roof. This is the
largest mosque in Dhaka which can accommodate
1500 devotees in three rows in its main hall. The mosque through massive has no
In recent years there had been many structural
additions to the mosque. On the ample courtyard of the mosque there are some
tombs of respectable citizens of Dhaka of
later times. A note about them will be found in the appendix of this book. In
the year 1717 Nawab Murshid
Quli allotted some neighboring lands with a grant of Rs. 22-8-0 per month for the upkeep of the mosque.
Nawab Sir Khajeh Ahsanullah Bahadur, K. C. I.E. (page 322 to page 331)..
Abdul Ghani's son, Nawab
Sir Ahsanullah Balhadur
scrupulously followed the footsteps of his father. Ahsanullah
had a fair education in Persian, Arabic and Urdu and received good training in
English under highly paid European teachers.
Lady Dufferin has given an
interesting account of the father and the son in her book "Our Viceregal life in India". In acts of
philanthropy the son always vied with the father. In 1896 he endowed sixty
thousand rupees towards building and maintenance of the female ward of the Dacca Mitford
Hospital. There is no
mosque, mausoleum or important public institution in Dhaka
which does not bear the stamp of his munificence. The electric installations in
Dhaka (opened in 1901) for which he
contributed four lacs of rupee, has been of abiding
benefit to the people of this city. He was a member of
the Governor Generals' Council in Calcutta where he maintained his dignity so
jealously that he never traveled to attend meetings except by special trains or
chartered steamers labeled as "Nawab's
Special". Europeans of high rank took it as an honor to sign names in the
elegantly bound gilt edged Visitors Book kept in the hall of the grand stairs
of Ahsan Manzil. He
was made a C. I. E. and a few years before his death were elevated to the
Knighthood. He was a good Urdu poet, and his poetical name as "Shaheen". He had a very dignified face with attracted
respect and obedience. He died of heart failure on his barge in December, 1901
in the Ramzan month. Out of his three sons namely Khajeh Hafizullah (B. 1868) Khajeh Salimullah and Khajeh Atiqullah, the first named
died in 1884. He was young and very promising. The European community of Dhaka raised a granite obelisk in his affectionate memory
in the Victoria Park which is a landmark of this city.
Nawab Sir Khajeh Salimullah Bahadur, G. C. I. E. (page
322 to page 331)…
Khajeh Salimullah was born in
1871. He was not much liked by his father, perhaps on account of his extreme
religious proclivities. So he kept himself aloof from him, and the Government
in consideration of his family prestige straightway appointed him a Deputy
Magistrate in the senior rank. At the time of his father's death he was posted
in Mymensingh. On receiving the death news of his
father he rushed down to Dhaka on a special train
and with the unanimous consent of all parties concerned occupied the place
vacated by his father.
He was a man
of religious outlook; like his father was inclined to prodigal liberality. Soon
after his installation he encouraged people to start mass education, in
consequence of which several night schools were opened in Muslim Mahallas of this city. He observed the 12th of Rabiul Awwal, the Prophet's
birthday with a great zeal and in: a very befitting manner, and encouraged town
people to do so. On that day all Muslim localities of this city used to he
tastefully decorated and illumined. In problems of social and political
importance he assembled the Mahalla Sardars of this
city and explained to them their position. The Ahsanullah
School of Engineering (now a College) is among others, a monument of his full
handed bounty. He established Asmatannisa Ward in
memory of his grandmother in the Mitford
Hospital. Later on he
contributed five thousand rupees towards building the present King Edward
Memorial ward. The Sir Salimullah Muslim Orphanage is
another example of his abiding concern for the wellbeing of the Muslim orphans.
He was the
acknowledged leader of the Musulmans of Bengal.
During the days of the vicious movement against Lord Curzon's Partition of East
Bengal and Assam, this
nobleman along with some stalwarts of his party stood as a solid bulwark
against the highly organized Hindu bands of India, who with bombs, revolvers
and daggers tried to set aside the Partition. Against this Nawab
Salimullah organized and addressed meetings in
several places of Bengal. In this connection
the writer recalls one memorable episode. The Nawab Bahadur was once invited by Nawab
Hussian Hyder Choudhury to address a meeting in ComilIa
town made elaborate arrangements for our reception. Syed Nawab
Ali Choudhury (afterwards a Nawab
Bahadur, C. I. E., and an Executive Counciller), Moulvi Abdul Huq of Salar, Moulvi
Abdul Hamid Editor, Muslim Chronicle, Mr. Khalil Sabir Chowdhury
Ghulam Sattar, Choudhury Ghulam Quddus, Mirza Faqir
Muhammed, Fariduddin Ahmed Siddiqui and the writer formed the Nawab
Bahadur's party when he visited Comilla.
A huge crowd met us at the railway station with flags and placards. As our
procession started towards our destination a disorderly and riotous scene was
created by the Hindus of the town, and this continued for sometime in which one
young Muslim worker was shot dead by a Hindu Sub-Inspector of Police. Two days
after, on our way back on a special train as we neared Chandpur
we felt a sharp jerk and our train skidded on our left; but it immediately resumed
a very slow speed. After reaching Chandpur we learnt
that some educated Hindu goondas made a diabolical
attempt to derail our train in broad daylight. We thanked our stars for having
escaped it major disaster.
The Nawab took a great interest in the progress of Muslim
education. On two occasions he invited the All-India Muslim Educational
Conference in Dhaka, and personally bore the
whole expenses of the g
athering. He lavishly entertained the Muslim highlights of India in his Shahbagh garden which at that time had formed into a
veritable city of tents. It was under his initiative that the All-India Muslim
League took its birth in December 1906 in a meeting presided over by Nawab Viqarul-Mulk Bahadur. It was the first occasion that apart from the Muslim
luminaries of Bengal, the writer had seen and
moved among 80 many highlights of Muslim India, who gathered together and took
part in this memorable deliberation. But alas! Almost all of them are now dead
and gone, and their memories have remained only to inspire us. The writer
hopes that it will be interesting to note below some of their names:
Nawab Muhsin-ul-Mulk, Nawab Viqar-ul-Mulk, Nawab Faiazali Khan of Pahasu, Nawab Sir Sadeq Ali Khan (he was perhaps a Prime Minister of
some native state), Messrs, Muhammed Ali and Shaukat Ali, Syed AIi Imam, Hasan Imam, Syed Ale Nabi, Haziq-ul-Mulk, Hakim Ajmal Khan,
Raja Naoshad Ali, Sahibzadah
Aftab Ahmed Khan, Syed Wazir
Hasan, Dr. Ziauddin, Mr. Zaferullah Khan, Allama Shibli Numani, Moulana Abul Kalam
Azad, Shah Suleiman of Phulwari, Moulana
Altaf Husain Hali, Justice
Sir Sharfuddin, Justice Shah Din, Shah Abdullah, Khajeh Ghulamus-Saqlain and a
host of others.
If the writer remembers correctly Mr. Abdur Rahman Siddiqui
Was one of the prominent young volunteers on this
occasion. He afterwards became our Governor in East
Pakistan. Nawab Sir Shamsul
Huda and Mr. A. K. Fuzlul Huq
were the political advisers of the Nawab Bahadur.
In 1904 when Lord Curzon visited Dhaka
and remained in Ahsan Munzil
as the guest of the Nawab, the writer had observed
the Nawab's remarkable power of organization and his
profound influence upon the Mussulmans of Bengal. He
was first made a Nawab Bahadur,
and then made a C. I. E. In the Delhi Durbar of 1911 he was decorated with the
insignia of Grand Commander of the Indian Empire (G. C. I.).
British people very seldom awarded this title to people other than Feudatory
Chiefs of India. He was a nobleman of high democratic spirit. He mixed freely
with high and low alike and accosted them with his peals of laughter. The
writer had the privilege to remain with him in many of his social and political
activities. He can say with all emphasis that he never came across a more
attractive personality. His heart always glowed if he could help a Muslim. He
was very liberal in recommending cases of Muslims for some kind of employment.
Once the writer pointed out to him that his indiscriminate recommendations
might prejudice their value. The Nawab at once
replied that "if out of these recommendations only one applicant becomes
successful, I should think myself lucky that I have been successful in helping a Muslim brother.”
This is the great
man whose life-sketch I have given in the foregoing lines. Some
months before his death the Nawab became intensely
religious and grew long beards. The writer gives here an instance of his
religious zeal. In a wintry Ramzan night he attended
the "Shabinah Tarawih"
(in which the whole of 30 chapters of the Quran are recited during the prayer).
The writer along with several other enthusiasts followed the Nawab in this adventure in the Dilkusha
garden Mosque. After standing behind the Nawab for
about an hour, the writer lost his patience and quietly slipped away from the
mosque while the Nawab remained standing like a colossuS imbued with all humility before his Creator. The Nawab died in Calcutta
on the 16th January, 1916.
Next day his
coffin was carried down to Dhaka on a special
launch and was interred in his family graveyard of Purab Derwazeh
Lane. He left behind some sons and daughters.
His eldest son Nawab Bahadur Khajeh
Habibullah succeeded him. For a few years he was in London for training. In
course of the First World War, he was in Mesopotemia
as an honorary Lieutenant in the British Army; but soon after he G returned and occupied his father's guddi.
He was an elected member of the Bengal Assembly, and on two occasions worked
as Minister. He died in 1959.
His eldest son Nawab Bahadur Khajeh
Hasan Asked has succeeded him. He became a Major in
the Pakistan Army. Just at present he is one of the Ministers in the government
of East Pakistan. Their vast estate, except
their family Wakf has been absorbed under the State
Acquisition Act. The ground floor area of their picturesque Ahsan
Munzil is now nothing but a cluster of refugee hovels
with jute-sack screens to cover the shame ;-
of Sheikh Malik Pir Yemeni (page 80)…
The tomb of Sheikh Malik Pir Yemeni is situated in Purana Paltan at the bend of the road towards the Provincial Secretariat.
This great sage came to Bengal in the company of Sheikh Jalaluddin
Tabrezi in early Fourteenth century and Sheikh Malik Pir settled in Dhaka. I
may note here that the missionary activities of the great Sufis spread in Bengal in great intensity in the reigns of Khalji Sultans and it reached its zenith in the time of
Sultan Alauddin Khalji. The mausoleum was constructed by Nawab
Sir Khajeh Salimollah of Dhaka. ….
The Partition of East Bengal and Assam (Introduction
From the 1st of October, 1905 as the result of Partition
of Bengal and Assam by Lord
Curzon, Dhaka once again came to limelight as the capital of East Bengal and Assam comprising Dhaka, Chittagong
and Rajshahi divisions and almost the whole of Assam
with Shillong as the summer capital. Sir Bamfylde Fuller (who was the Chief Commissioner of Assam) was
appointed the first Lt. Governor of this new province. This arrangement formed
a homogeneous and overwhelmingly Muslim province and raised a bright prospect
of our growth and progress. The Mussalmans saw in the
Partition their social, political and economic emancipation. But the Hindu intelligentia could not allow the Muslims to thrive so
easily at their cost; mainly because it was the agricultural wealth of East
Bengal that contributed· to the prosperity of Calcutta
where they played their ducks and drakes with the wealth of East
Bengal. As their pockets were touched, their rank and file and
their press set up a most rabid agitation in the garb of 'Indian Nationalism'
throughout Hindu India in order to annul the Partition. This sinister movement
was sponsored and conducted by Babus Surendranath Banerjee
(afterwards Knighted) and Bepin Chandra Pal, the then
leaders and demagogues of Hind~ youths. They started boycotting and burning of
British-made goods on account of which the Mills of Lancashire were affected.
The terrorist and their secret organizations began to harass the English people
by the use of bombs and revolvers. Their educated gangsters started committing dacoities in order to create a sense of insecurity in the
country and also to build up a 'Notional Fund' on the pattern of the historic Sanyasi marauders of Bengal.
Consequently British people were compelled to 'Unsettle the settled fact' of
the Partition of Bengal. The annulment was announced by the King Emperor
George the Fifth, in his spectacular Durbar of Delhi in December 1911. As the
result, the metropolis of British India was removed from Calcutta
Bengal was given the status of Presidencies like Bombay,
Madras, Bihar and Assam were each made a separate
province. After spending about ten crores of rupees
on buildings in Dhaka, East Bengal was again handed over to the 'Babus' of Calcutta
for their exploitation, from the First of April, 1912. Poor Muslims were
dumbfounded by the latest fraud played upon them by their so-called British
friends. At that time the late lamented Nawab Sir Khajeh Salimullah* Bahadur of Dhaka was
the accredited leader of the Mussulmans of Bengal.
When on the occasion of the Delhi Durbar the sop (1) of a Grand Commander
of the Indian Empire was bestowed on him in order to
pacify him, the Nawab in a state of exasperation exclaimed ,'It is a halter of shame with which I have to hang
myself." We remember with legitimate
pride that it was this noblemen who, for the first
time aroused in us our political consciousness. Before his
time Muslim politics in Bengal consisted only
in presenting a few respectfully worded valedictory addresses to viceroys and
governors and in feting them.
We however thank our non-Muslim politicians who by their antagonistic
activities awoke in us our latent sense of right and dignity. This writer from
his own experience of long years can say that from the time of Partition of
Bengal there have been remarkable changes in our political outlook and in the
habits, customs and usages of the Mussulmans of
Bengal many of whom till then blindly imitated the non-Muslims of Bengal. In course of about two centuries of foreign
domination we completely forgot that politically and culturally we were
altogether a separate entity. Our conception of religion, our ideals of
civilization, our traditions and our food and dress had nothing in common with
our non-Muslim friends of India.
In spite of that we always wanted to live in peace with them as friends and
develop our own way of life. But they always put insurmountable difficulties in
* See App.
1. Inorder further to appease
Muslim sentiments, Lord Hardinge of Penshurst, the then Viceroy of India,
came down to Dhaka in 1912 and announced the creation of the Dhaka University.
The University began to function from 1920 and its classes actually stinted
from 1st July 1921. On account of b,tter oppoistion of the Hindus, its affiliating jurisdiction was
restricted within 5 miles radius of the University and this continued till 1'1"1'1'111 lillie when il was changed. For a long time afterwards the Hindu 1I11l1l1l1l1lly Inllll'l\ tld~ I luil"'I'Mily 11M lhl': "M"(Ta University."
Taifoor, Syed Muhammed (1885-1972)
author, antiquarian, historian. Syed Muhammed Taifoor. born on 3 June 1885 in Dhaka. His father Syed Abdul Aziz
and grandfather Mir Gholam Mustafa al-Hosieny were zamindars at sonargaon. Taifoor claimed his descent from the famous saint of Sonargaon, ibrahim danishmand. Eeducated at Madrasas in Dhaka
and was well versed in Bangla, English, Urdu and
Persian languages. In 1909 joined the government service as a Sub
Registrar and worked all over what is now Bangladesh and retired as Registrar
of Calcutta in 1942. In 1941 the British Government bestowed the title of 'Khan
Shaheb'. In 1947 during the anti-British movement renounced
this title in protest.
Member Director of Eden College, member of the Dhaka Secondary and
Intermediate Board, Director of Jagannath College and
member of Dhaka Improvement Trust. He was closely associated with the Dhaka Museum
since its beginning and was a member of the museum's Trustee Board. He donated
a number of his collections to the museum: 209 ancient and Mughal
coins, artefacts and armoury
from eastern India.
In addition he donated rare books, and Arabic and Persian
manuscripts to the asiatic society of Pakistan (now Bangladesh), of which he was a