Balia Zamindar House or Palace is once known as a symbol of dignity in this region. Still some of the ancestors of this zamindari estate living in Kolkata. Interviewing local folks ORB team came to about its identity and partial history, which could be possibly will help to rebuild its actual history in near future.
So far we came to know from different sources that, this zamindari was founded by man named Zamindar Malik Muhammad Box (জমিদার মালিক মুহাম্মদ বক্স) who came to this region from Multan. His son Hazi Malik Karim Box (হাজি মালিক করিম বক্স) was chronologically the second successful famous zamindar of this estate who donated a big amount of money from ‘Kashmir & Kyed-E-Azam relief fund’.
According to the old people of Balia this building is more than 400 Years old. There is a little difference between this Zamindar house with others. It’s one of the few Zamindari estate in Bangladesh which was being founded by Muslim zamindars where as rest of others being established by Hindu zamindars.
This old house is on the way to ruin, most of its building material is being removed. Except its tall dome and a triangular pediment rest others element is lost in course of time.There is a three domed Mosque in front this old House which could be possibly built in some later time.
There are a couple of way to move there at the old palatial house from Dhaka. But, the easiest way for a traveler is to take a bus from Gabtoli Bus stop to Saturia Bus stop via Dhaka-Aricha highway. From Saturia Bus stop you may ride on a shared mini bus or CNG auto rickshaw to reach there at Kalighat Bazar via Saturia-Daragram bazar. From there Balia zamindar house is just steps way.
There are so many vehicles approaching to Dhamrai from Dhaka. Among those Public transport, Buses are always available running from Gulistan to Dhamrai. But, whenever you are approaching to Dhamrai, You will have to be careful while riding on a Bus. Because, there are two different ways to go there. You will have to catch one moving toward Islampur or Dolivita Bus stop.
There are a couple of Bus Services moving toward Dhamrai from Gulistan. Among those-
1. D-link (Gulistan to Dhamrai) &
2. Grameen Sheba
1. Dhamrai Dak-Banglo:
Manager: Upazila Executive Officer, Dhamrai
Address: Upazila Parishad Chattar, Dhamrai, Dhaka
There is a cluster of Zamindar houses is just few kilometers away from balia, which is known as Baliati Zamindar Palace. You would rather build an itinerary what could possibly help you to cover all the Heritage sites near Dhamrai and Manikganj area.
There are a number of Hotels & Restaurants available in Balia Bazar. Basically, you will find the local cuisine there at the Bazar. Local sweets & Yogurt will make you feel to be back there once again.
The Central Cooperative Bank was established in 1921 during the British Period, under the then British Lord [Lawrence John Lumley Dundas, 2nd Marquess of Zetland]. All the transactions of his area where held and maintained by this bank. From the architectural point of view, undoubtedly this building holds the year old history. It is considered to be the oldest bank in Natore region. The foundation of the bank was laid by The Honorable Nawab Saiyed Nawab Ali Chowdhury Khan Bahadur C. I. E. on 15th February 1921.
The condition of this building is not good, as this years old structure has not been renovated yet and remain forsaken or excluded. Also, the government has not been any precautions to preserve this building. Now, it is being using by local people for some other purposes. The local government authority should take steps to save this historical attraction.)  => Array ( [name] => Khelaram Datar Kotha [post_id] => 10252 [post_link] => http://offroadbangladesh.com/places/andharkotha-khelaram-datar-kotha/ [thumb_link] => http://offroadbangladesh.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/18-225x300.jpg [post_content] =>
Previously, the actual color of Khelaram Datar Kotha (খেলারাম দাতার কোঠা) was reddish (first three photographs added). But after a renovation done by the Department of archaeology, it is colored white now.
Possibly the most intriguing, interesting and uniquely confusing archeological structures of Nawabganj is the Khelaram Daata’r Kotha, which has recently been renovated. Yet they have not put up a sign board describing the building.
It is confusing, who was Khelaram? What was he known for? What is this building all about? What is the story behind it? When was it built? One could come up with several such questions, but apparently there isn’t much available documentation. It’s hardly possibly to rely on local folklore, as that is far more fiction than facts. To start with some confusion, some say the name of the founder of this structure was Khelaram Dutta, Banglapedia mentions him as Khelaram Dada, while the locals say he was known as Khelaram Daata.
According to Banglapedia he was a Zamindar, but the locals claim he was a dacoit. Since Banglapedia mentions nothing about him apart from naming him as Zamindar Khelaram Dada. So, there isn’t any other way except relating oral history along with the information of Banglapedia.
Some 200 years ago, there lived a ferocious dacoit named Khelaram, who was dreaded by the rich, but loved by the poor, because similar to Robin Hood, he generously donated much of his spoils from each mission amongst the poor people. Hence he was known as “Daata” the beneficent. But he still retained quite a bit and needed to store the loot. So he built this structure consisting of many rooms just overnight (within a short time). The building had five floors (it now has only two) and the roof had a large tank. There still is a large pond nearby. Poor people had to come to this pond to bathe, and anything they asked for was granted.
Oral History Or Myth :
Khelaram was extremely obedient to his mother. She once wanted to drink some milk and eat some ripened bananas, so Khelaram arranged the rooftop tank to be filled to the brim with ripened bananas and pure milk, so she could swim there and eat and drink to her heart’s content. But one day something Khelaram did severely angered his mother. She sternly rebuked and cursed him and then left for a bath in the pond. But as soon as she left the building, three floors of the building simply sank into the ground, leaving only the top two floors to be seen over the surface. Khelaram was not seen any more from then. Some believe he got trapped in one of the lower floors. Some believe he drowned in the pond, trying to save his mother. Within a short time, all his belongings got stolen, leaving behind just an empty house.)  => 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 [post_content] =>
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] => Judge Bari and Ukil Bari [post_id] => 10277 [post_link] => http://offroadbangladesh.com/places/judge-bari-and-ukil-bari/ [thumb_link] => http://offroadbangladesh.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/110-300x169.jpg [post_content] =>
Traveling Nawabganj without paying a visit to Judge Bari and Ukil Bari (জজ বাড়ি এবং উকিল বাড়ি) (formerly known as Brojo Kutir) is nearly incomplete trip. Originally it was built as the residence of a Zamindar over a century ago, the Brojo Niketan was acquired by a judge in 1984, and henceforth became known locally as the judge bari, the residence of the judge.
Next door to the judge bari, on a corner of a sprawling playground made famous by the sheer attendance of Mahatma Gandhi in 1940, is another Zamindar’s house, which has been acquired by a lawyer, and thus taken the new name Ukil Bari.
In a small shrine between these two old palatial houses, one will come across a statue whose head has been knocked down, allegedly by the Pakistan Army during our Liberation War in 1971, supposedly of Gautama Buddha. A little inside the Ansar controlled areas, one would come across the Brojo Kutir - the older palace of the Zamindar, and yet another palatial house of Kokil Peyari. It has now turned into a local picnic spot.) )
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