=> Array
[name] => Tokani Pal House
[post_id] => 8643
[post_link] => http://offroadbangladesh.com/places/tokani-pal-house/
[thumb_link] => http://offroadbangladesh.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/TPP-12-300x200.jpg
Munshiganj, or Bikrampur as it was formerly known as home to a number of rich landlords and merchants, who lived in palatial houses, built on large estates. Most of these perished in course of time as the mighty Padma River devoured most of Bikrampur. Of all that remain in today’s Munshiganj, the largest is the house at Abdullahpur, known as Tokani Pal House (টোকানী পাল বাড়ি). There isn’t enough source to know about who built this house, but Tokani Pal, an elderly merchant from Barisal, bought this 7 acre estate and moved in here sometime in the early 1890s. His second wife Nabanga Sundary and all six sons from his two marriages accompanied him.
The estate now consists of 11 buildings and six ponds. The sprawling gardens have hundreds of trees – fruit bearing, medicinal, or for wood itself. And there were once several hundreds of flowering plants. But when Tokani arrived, the estate was in a mess. Kamini Pal, the eldest son of Tokani,took charge of cleaning up the estate. He chose a place to set up a temple, dedicated to Radha-Shyam, of whom they had been followers for generations. By this time, the masons of Abdullahpur had made a name in craftsmanship and expertise, and Arfan Ostagar was the most revered of all. He was hired, for a daily fee of five quarters and a pack of tobacco. His designer had to be paid an additional three quarters. A 15X6 feet room was planned to build, with a wide sprawling varanda, where followers could sing devotional songs every evening. The room would have a large platform, on which would rest a large metal statue of Radha-Shyam. The exterior wall would be decorated with fine ceramic designs. Once completed, the temple became a marvel, people from far and wide came over to see.
The Pal’s principal business was surrounded around the Kamala river port of Bikrampur, which was known as the Second Kolkata. Betelnuts, mustard, lentils etc would arrive from Barisal or Chandpur, and would be traded with Kolkata. Almost 20,000 laborers worked daily at this port, where the second largest wholesalers were the Pals. They set up warehouses at places as far as Barisal, Jhalokathhi or Shwarupkathhi, or Chandpur. Kamini Pal also became the most prominent money-lender. Dwarkanath became a prominent dealer in Kerosene oil. Other brothers also chipped in here and there. Business for the Pals was running well.
After the Partition of India, a large section of the family moved to Kolkata. Those who remained to protect the family businesses, soon found it difficult, as business with Kolkata became complicated. They had to explore new business avenues, but that wasn’t too easy.
In 1971, Hindus were being tortured or killed, their businesses were being shut down, their houses were being torched. The Pal estate being protected with a strong high boundary wall became a safe refuge, not only for members of this family, but for members of extended families, and also for friends and their families. About 500 people had found safe shelter here, until one dark night, when the Pakistani Army entered the compounds, killed several family members, and set the main houses of fire. The entire clan moved to India through Agartala.
Almost two years later, Shashadhar Pal, the second son of Dwarkanath Pal, who by then was head of the clan, returned with his family. But by this time major parts of the estate had been grabbed and taken over by others. He tried to revive some of the businesses, but did not quite succeed. His family members went back to Kolkata, but he decided to stay back, reminiscing his childhood memories, and gradually selling off part of their properties. He lived either in one of the houses within this estate, or in the other Pal House, which also was built by his uncle Kamini Pal several decades ago. He passed away in the late 1990s.
 => Array
[name] => Betila House: The Forgotten Palace of Manikganj
[post_id] => 17193
[post_link] => http://offroadbangladesh.com/places/betila-house/
[thumb_link] => http://offroadbangladesh.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Betila-House-2-300x163.jpg
The Betila (বেতিলা) House in Manikganj was built about a century ago by Jyoti Babu (জ্যোতি বাবু) and Satya Babu (সত্য বাবু), a couple of affluent merchants involved in the trade of Jute, the golden fibre of Bangladesh. This palatial house is located in a remote area named Betila which is within the parameters of the modern day Manikganj proper. Explorers/travelers searching for heritage sites in Manikganj over the internet may come across several links of the famous Baliati Zamindar’s Palace but never find any links on Betila. This is primarily because the Betila House was not a Zamindar’s (Land Owner) palace, and secondly since it is located in such a remote area, people hardly know about it. Rich people of those era are known to build such palatial houses in remote areas and live lavish lives, even though they were not 'Zamindars' or royalty.
For someone looking for heritage sites, the Betila Mitra Union of Manikganj would be a fabulous one to come across. It’s situated in semi rural setting (being not too distant from urban areas) and doesn't seem particularly unique on first impression but once you begin to explore it's culture and heritage, beautiful places like the Betila House amongst several others begin to surface. The seemingly tame Betila Canal runs across the area, connecting two major rivers Kaliganga (কালিগঙ্গা) and Dhaleshwari (ধলেশ্বরী) but like most waterways of Bangladesh, one can anticipate its ferocity in full monsoon season when rising water levels which is also evident in the way it has eroded both its banks, specially at the lone bridge that was constructed some time back.
On both the banks one will come across a series of heritage buildings, the pinnacle being on the eastern bank, the Betila Palatial house surrounded by rich foliage. It’s a combined structure of two separate buildings both of which are two-storied, standing almost intact, side by side and with an expansive open field before them.
 => Array
[name] => Hajiganj Fort
[post_id] => 10780
[post_link] => http://offroadbangladesh.com/places/hajiganj-fort/
[thumb_link] => http://offroadbangladesh.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Hajigonj-Fort-Narayanganj-011-300x225.jpg
Hajiganj Fort (হাজীগঞ্জ দুর্গ) also called Khizrpur Fort, situated at Hajiganj locality of Narayanganj on the western bank of the Sitalakshya (শীতলক্ষ্যা). Having the characteristics of a water fort, it was originally built just at the point where the old Buriganga (বুরিগঙ্গা) discharged into the Sitalakshya. It may have been built soon after Islam Khan established the Mughal capital at Dhaka, and was intended to countercept the raids of the Magh and Portuguese pirates.
The fort, quadrangular in size, consists of a pentagonal curtain wall machicolated for muskets with rounded corner bastions. On the inner side of the curtain wall there is 1.22 meter high rampart walkway from the base of the curtain wall which is itself pierced by several musketry holes. Each of the corner bastions has staircase inside up to the rampart level and its merlons have wider holes in between meant for gun firing. In a corner of the fort quadrangle there is a free tall square column of brickwork which seems to be a guard tower. The existence of this column links the fort with other water forts of the time. The existence of the elevated platform for the setting of cannons is an important feature of the fort.
The only small gateway of the fort towards the river side suggests that the means of communication was by the river. The pentagonal gateway is placed in a rectangular structure with engraved rectangular arches on the both sides. The top of the gateway is decorated with lotus finial. There having no other structure inside the fort, it seems that the fort was occupied only in the rainy season when the pirates were expected, and that the occupants used tents as their shades. The fort area is now being used as the Fire Brigade headquarters of Narayanganj.
 => Array
[name] => Bandar Shahi Mosque
[post_id] => 10830
[post_link] => http://offroadbangladesh.com/places/bandar-shahi-mosque/
[thumb_link] => http://offroadbangladesh.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Bondor-Shahi-Mosque-Narayanganj-021-225x300.jpg
Bandar Shahi Mosque (বন্দর শাহী মসজিদ ) is situated in the Bandar Municipal area. It was built in 1482 AD (886 AH) by Malik Al-Muazzam Baba Saleh, a high official under Sultan Jalaluddin Fateh Shah.
It is a square building measuring 6.20 meter a side in the interior and 9.70 meter in the exterior. It has four octagonal corner towers and a large hemispherical dome supported by two engaged black stone pillars embedded in each wall with square bases, capitals and octagonal shafts. The square inches which hold up the dome spring from the top of these pillars. The dome has a lotus and pitcher finial. The raising of the dome on a drum crowned with merlons seems to be part of Mughal renovations. There are three entrances in the east of which the central one is wider, measuring 2.20 meter high and 1.37 meter wide. The two other entrances each on the south and north sides are 2 meter high and 1 meter wide. The side entrances are of the same size as the front central one. Of the three semi-circular mihrabs, the central one is the largest and the northern mihrab is being used as a closet.
The mosque has been renovated and enlarged by verandas on the east, south and north sides. It is presently being used as a jami mosque.