During monsoon, when the green fields are submerged underwater, the place looks like an island. Inside this island are a few buildings from the last century that have drawn many people’s attention
Birulia Zamindar Bari is one of the most popular tourist destinations for residents of Dhaka. Only 10 kilometers away from Mirpur Majar Road, the Zamindar Bari is located on the arms of the river Turag.
During monsoon, when the green fields are submerged underwater, the place looks like an island. Inside this island are a few buildings from the last century that have drawn many people's attention.
If you walk 20 steps forward from the Birulia Bridge, you will find a slope attached to the highway that leads visitors to the red brick path into the village.
The entrance is filled with residential apartment buildings.
"Is this the Zamindar Bari?" asked my colleague as a passer-by overheard us. He let us know that if we keep walking, we would find the "vintage houses".
Why the passer-by referred to the Zamindar Bari as "vintage houses" was yet to become clear to us.
However, we kept walking forward and found what would be the relics of the vintage houses, dating back approximately to the beginning of the 20th century.
Worn out plasters of the magnificent columns, rusted balcony railings, faded colours of the walls, dilapidated staircases, a locked attic, and the shabby clothes on display altogether created a gothic atmosphere, although the buildings are overflowing with tenants.
In front of such a grandeur, newly built tin shed rooms and tea stalls are flaunting the decline of an era.
Assuming the houses have been illegally occupied by the residents, we asked them, "Who is the owner of this house?" A local resident named Dilip Saha who was resting at a tea stall took offence to the question.
"This is our house. We have been living here for three generations. My ancestors were businessmen and they built the house with their money. Half of them left the area during riots. We are the owners of the house."
In a row, there were four houses from the same timeline.
Dilip let us into his home. The interior was decorated with modern furniture. The only remnant of the era was the pattern on the ceiling.
He walked us into the attic while reminiscing of the old days.
The artwork on the roof had broken down. Not knowing how to repair it, they kept the broken pieces in a corner on the roof.
The view of the area from the roof was close to a bird's-eye view.
Dilip kept on saying how they lost the aristocracy overtime and had to build a tea stall in the front yard for financial reasons.
The backyard is used for gardening.
"The houses you will see in this territory were owned by businessmen, not Zamindars," Dilip told us while showing us around the house.
Sceptical about his statement, we bid Dilip adieu and moved towards the Zamindar house.
It was difficult to find the entrance of the Palace with the Birulia High School on one side and newly-built buildings all around.
Walking through a congested lane, we reached a large two-storey building, not a vintage house.
None of the former feudal grandeur was left in the houses. Almost the entire building has been renovated.
Even the balconies have ceased to exist as the owner has transformed them into two new rooms.
"My grandfather, Rajnikant Ghosh, had his business in this area. When he became successful, he bought this palace along with some more land from Zamindar Nalini Mohon Saha," said another descendent of the Zamindars.
He used to collect khajna (revenue) from those who lived on his land.
He said, Rajnikant bought properties in Narayanganj and Dhaka as well, but lost them to illegal occupants. The only property left to them is the Zamindar Bari.
The renovated building has become like any other regular apartment of Dhaka.
With the destruction of the building, a piece of history and art has been lost as well. Rajnikant's descendants could do nothing to save it due to lack of financial support.