|Palace at Nagarpur|
The Brindaban Chandra Bigroho complex in this sprawling market town in Tangail District of Bangladesh, an area famed for its fine weaving industry, and its sweets, is one of the most remarkable palace complexes, probably in Asia.
Sprawling across many acres, it contains no less than 19 ‘pavilions’, each a self contained palace that must have catered to the extended family of the wealthy Hindu businessman who evidently became Zaminder in the late 19th Century.
Some of the pavilions are as recent as the 1930s in construction, and the oldest, probably late 19th Century.
Unlike so many of the palaces, known properly as Zaminderbari, of Bangladesh, where the neo classical is certainly a favoured style of architecture, and where artisans wrought wonders of architectural detail in concrete with such as Corinthian capitols readily mistaken for Portland Stone, this complex might more easily be mistaken for such as the great Palace in Jaipur. The style is grand, but distinctively of the Indian subcontinent in concept.
Both mosaic and impressed patterns are readily discovered in the many fine buildings that include a couple of temples.
Occupied now by a women’s teacher training college, with teachers enjoying the somewhat dubious privilege of occupying the best preserved of the ancient buildings, hours are required to explore, completely, the exteriors and the shells of the many buildings. For the follower of the great diversity and architectural and contracting skills employed in the more than 100 palaces of Bangladesh, this location is a veritable feast.
Yet a further illustration of the enormous wealth that lies in the history of what the world now regards as an impoverished, disaster prone corner of the Indian subcontinent, there is no mistaking this as further compelling evidence of the past as a great and flourishing centre of trade, the routes from which reached out, for more than 2,000 years, across most of the known world. And of the enormous wealth that derived from that trade.
Even amongst such as the great Stately Homes of Britain, constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries for the great merchant princes and bankers such as the Rothschilds and Sassoons, few could compete in scale with this complex.
An easy day trip from Dhaka, though exploration of others of the great palaces of the area would certainly take longer!