=> 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] => 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
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] => 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] => Kismat-Maria Mosque
[post_id] => 9282
[post_link] => http://offroadbangladesh.com/places/kismat-maria-mosque/
[thumb_link] => http://offroadbangladesh.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/kismat-maria-mosque-durgapur-rajshahi-12-300x225.jpg
Kismat-Maria Mosque (কিসমত-মারিয়া মসজিদ) is the academic name, where local people knows this as Durgapur mosque (দুর্গাপুর মসজিদ). The mosque is located at the Maria (মারিয়া) village, adjacent to village Kismat (কিসমত), that's why it is called Kismat-Maria Masjid.
It is totally unknown about any sort of historical information. No inscription available at the doorway or anywhere. Even the government doesn't have any document or info regarding this. To add insult to the injury, the local people cannot remember anything about this mosque either. It’s a total mystery.
It is certain that the mosque was built several hundred years back. It is having three domes at the top. Four ornate pillars at the four sides of the mosque. Eastern side of the mosque is having three entrances. The mosque is built over a 2-3 feet of high base. The domes of the mosque is similar to the Kartalab Khan's Mosque at Old Dhaka.
The mosque has a small house type of building at the southern side. This is another great archaeological object from our Bangladesh.