Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hemnagor Zaminderbari

The Main Entrance

The detail and the jewel like quality of the intricate mosaic work of the fascia and entrance of this remarkably well preserved palace, close to the east bank of the Jamuna River, reveals a probable date of construction.

Intricate, Skilled Mosaic Work

Dhamrai Palace, the ‘Glass Mosque’ at Saidpur, and mansions and palaces at Sonargaon all date from the same decade, around the 1850s. All these buildings were evidently sufficiently well built, or sufficiently far from the epicentre to survive, unlike so many others, the disastrous 1897 Great India Earthquake. In this case however, the palace, known as The Angle House, is said to have been constructed around 1890. More research will be needed to attempt to establish the origins and development of this particular architectural skill!

The Entry Vestibule

Such mosaic work, created from broken pieces of pottery, porcelain or glass, is a common feature of ‘shop houses’ of South East Asia, such as in Malacca, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Crest above the Main Entrance

It seems reasonable to suppose that around 1850 Chinese craftsmen were brought into Bangladesh by the then rulers, the East India Company. Whether it is likely that the same great skills would have been available 50 years later seems debatable.
Mosaic Columns at Hemnagor Zaminderbari

Whatever the truth, this lovely construct, said to have been built by Hem Chandra Chowdhury a Hindu, property developer and businessman who was certainly the incumbent Zaminder in 1900 when he constructed Hemnagar Shashi Mukhi English High School named after his mother, is certainly one of the least decayed of the 100 or so palaces in Bangladesh.

Fine Architectural Detail

Is it possible, one wonders, that Hem Chandra Chowdhury only acquired the rights of Zaminder late in the 18th Century and acquired the palace with his acquisition? There is, of course, an answer to such a question, and perhaps, when we tire of unlocking Bangladesh, we might find time to search the records of the India Office, or, indeed, of the East India Company itself, for some answer.
Concrete and Mosaic Columns

Meanwhile, what we can say is that Hem Chandra Chowdhury’s greatest claim to fame, perhaps, is having been involved in the Sub Continent’s first legal case about real estate development, in the late 19th Century.

The Neo Classical Inner Courtyard

A Hindu himself, he is possibly responsible for the nearby community of Hindu pottery craftsmen, who still practice their skills where they have for over a hundred years.


  1. hemnagor jomidar bari is a very attractive historical place. it is my college now.

    1. dear brother we are heirs of hemchandra chowdhury and currently in jabalpur,m.p.,india.Can you please send some images of the compound so that we can see it more vividly.We left Bangladesh in 1947 and though some members were born and brought up couldn,t visit after several efforts.
      thx in advance,

      arunav chowdhury,

    2. Dear Sir/Madam,

      My name is Abhishek Chatterjee I am from Calcutta, and I am the son of Suniti Bala Chowdhury's (Ganguly) grandson.

      Suniti Bala Choudhury (Ganguly) was the daughter of Hem Chandra Chowdhury.

      I would also appreciate further information on the Hemnagar present pictures and any related info.

      My personal contacts are below.

      Please co-operate and if you need proof for supplying infos then please lemme know I'll do so.

      I am avidly looking ahead for your amicable response please.

      Thanking You,
      Abhishek Chatterjee
      Email:- /