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Early History Of Pad
The palace has enjoyed a varied history, starting from being Rang Mahal of Sheikh Enayetullah, a Zamindar of Jamalpur pargana Barisal during the time of the Mughals to a French trading centre. Nawab Khwaja Alimullah bought it from the French in 1830 and converted it into his residence, effecting necessary reconstruction and renovations. The final reconstruction was done by Martin & Company, a European construction and engineering firm, at the behest of Nawab Khwaja Abdul Ghani, who converted this house into the official Nawabi residence.
The construction of the palace was begun in 1859 and completed in 1872. Abdul Ghani named it Ahsan Manzil after his son Nawab Khwaja Ahsanullah. The newly built palace first came to be known as the Rang Mahal. On April 7, 1888, a tornado caused severe damage to Ahsan ManzilAndar Mahal, the older part of the palace, was completely devastated. During the reconstruction of the Andar Mahal a good part of the palace was overhauled and repaired, and the exquisite dome of the present Rang Mahal was added. Ahsan Manzil was again damaged by an earthquake in 12 June 1897 and again repaired by the Nawab Ahsanullah.
Nawab Sir Salimullah with his family in front of Ahsan Manzil
In 1874, Lord Northbrook, Governor General of India attended an evening function in the palace when he came to lay the foundation of a water works installed by Nawab Abdul Ghani. In 1888, Lord Dufferin also accepted the hospitality offered at Ahsan Manzil. In 1904 Lord Curzon, on a visit to East Bengal, stayed in this palace on 18 and 19 February to win public support for the proposed Partition of Bengal.
Almost all political activities of Nawab Khwaja Salimullah centred round this palace. Ahsan Manzil was the cradle of the All India Muslim League. With the decline of the Nawabs of Dhaka, Ahsan Manzil also started to decline.
When in 1952 the Dhaka Nawab State was acquired under the East Bengal Estate Acquisition Act, it became impossible for the successors of the Nawabs to maintain the palace due to financial constraints. Nawab Khwaja Habibullah started living at Paribag Green House soon after the acquisition of the zamindari. The palace was soon on the verge of collapse as successors rented out rooms without considering its dignity. Over the years illegal occupants turned the place into a filthy slum.
Recognizing the historical and architectural importance of the Ahsan Manzil, the government of Bangladesh took the initiative to renovate it. In 1985 Ahsan Manzil and its surroundings were acquired. After the completion of the renovation work in 1992 under the supervision of the Directorate of Public Works and Architecture, it was brought under the control of Bangladesh National Museum 20 September 1992. A museum has been established there.
Ahsan Manzil has now been converted into a museum and a popular tourist attraction of old Dhaka.
Ahsan Manzil is one of the most significant architectural monume