Wednesday, February 24, 2010


A two hour drive from Bogra, lies the city of Naogaon which holds a great historical significance for Bangladesh. From all the palaces situated in North Bengal, perhaps the two I personally visited in Naogaon entail the most captivating stories.

After a cumbersome drive through the half broken roads that lead to Naogaon, the car finally made a halt in front of a 300 year old Palace that belonged Raja Rajendranath Rai Chowdhury. Most of the palace is now in ruins, but from looking at it, one can tell that it was once a huge compound. As told by a few villagers, the palace was 9 vigha and when first built, it had about 206 rooms, and 7 lawns.

As usual, the raja who built this palace was a businessman. Myth has it that he would come to Naogaon in a boat for business, and rest on it by the water. One day he dreamt of a statue in a lotus leaf and saw that it would make him rich if picked it up. The dream followed the second day, where he saw the same statue becoming smaller in size. The third night he dreamt that he has to build a house in the area he has been dreaming about. On the fourth night he dreamt that 12 hands away from the river bank, there will be a frog eating a snake on a specific type of grass named dulba ghash, and that is where the house has to be built, and so he did accordingly. Thus the name of the Palace is Dublahati.

The palace may have washed out over the years, but the story behind the building of it is enough to attract audience. But even more interesting is to meet the villagers, who have bits pieces of information to give about the Palace, and the Raja. According to a shopkeeper who sells tea around the corner of the Palace, the Raja’s son and his best friend, Rabindranath Rai Chowdhury is still alive and lives in Naoga.

My next stop was the Balihar Palace. This palace was built by Raja Sharendra, who was the middle child of the king who ruled at the time (no one seemed to know his father’s name). Sharendra had two siblings; Krishnonendra, the elder brother and Bimolnendra, the youngest brother.

According to the caretaker, the palace is over 100 years old, but through its architecture, it is clear that it was built in at least three different periods (Mughal, Early Victorian and post earthquake Edwardian). Unlike the Dubalhati Palace, this palace does not have a story to tell. When asked, nobody seemed to know much about the history of this palace, other than the fact that at one point it was used as a college campus. It is said that the public destroyed much of the palace, by breaking parts of it.

It is a pity that such magnificent structures that could potentially make Bangladesh even more of a historically rich country, are so blatantly ignored instead of being restored, or even just nicely maintained.

Fortunately, Tiger Tours Limited will shortly publish a more detailed explanation and history of these and more of the palaces of North Bengal to let the world know about these great structures of Bangladesh.

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