Lalbagh Fort Dhaka - Bangladesh

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Name Lalbagh Fort Complex
Place Dhaka
Country Bangladesh
Author(s) Farzana Sharmin
World Heritage if applicable,enter the year of listing

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Why is this case relevant?

  • In this section you briefly explain why you have selected your site/are, why it is considered heritage and what is the cultural value (max 150 words)

Lalbagh Fort Complex is one of the extravagant example from 17th century built by the Mughal Empire in Bangladesh. While there are several Mughal structure found in Indian sub-continent, this incomplete fort is the only footprint of encamped Mughal garden style remains in the capital of Bengal, Jahangirnagar (now Dhaka). Mughal prince Subahdar Muhammad Azam Shah, son of Emperor Aurangzeb, started to construct the fort beside Buriganga river named ‘Fort Aurangabad’ in 1678 AD. Later his successor Shaista Khan didn’t able to continue its construction because of unfortunate death of his daughter and Prince Azam’s betrothed Iran Dukht Rahmat Banu (titled Bibi Pari). Consequently the abandoned fort had taken named as “Lalbagh’. Later, this place was used by British East India Company. During Sepoy Revolt, 1857, the crushing of soldier uprising against British which is known as ‘First independence war’ happened there and they used its secret tunnel as escape route. Nowadays this place is opened for public and one of the few green public open space remains in that densely populated area. Moreover, the whole area is a depiction of Mughal period in Bengal. The fort complex is documented in UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List.

Which idea of ‘design with nature’ guides the design concept of this site?

  • In this section you talk about the design concept of your area. Is it a highly maintained site, i.e. does the design with nature require intensive maintenance? Or does the site follow a more organic interpretation of nature? Which changes are expected if maintenance is missing?

The Lalbagh Fort Complex is a combination of three buildings (the mosque, the tomb of Bibi Pari and the Diwan-i-Aam), with two gateways and a portion of the partly damaged fortification wall articulating Charbag style garden area covering about 18 acres. Mughal emperors brought Persian garden style in Indian subcontinent where Persian and Islamic concept of garden transform into contextual realization. Charbagh or Chaharbagh means four Garden. According to the Quran, Islamic holy book, garden of paradise is described as “Garden underneath which rivers flow”. There are four flowing channels of water, honey, wine and milk mentioned in the Quran. Quadrilateral garden with hierarchy of buildings and surrounding by fortess as Charbagh was depicted in Lalbagh Fort Complex. Roof Garden with water features and Islamic pattern is discovered recently which is an eccentric addition with Mughal garden style. Archeological excavation has been started at 1974 by Department of Archeology, Bangladesh. The continuity of the main fort walls eastward below Shaishta Khan Road is revealed that the existing area of fort complex might be representation of half of Prince Azam Khan’s plan. The gate at the southeast (adjacent to Lalbagh Shahi Masjid) as per requirement fits properly as the Central Gate in the middle of Fort. The other half to the east might be planned for administrative purpose which is incomplete or extinct long ago. Meanwhile the walls on north and eastward are built to articulate the fort under the Fort restoration Project. These 400 years old structures need proper maintenance regularly whether its structure or the garden.

Which challenges is this landscape facing?

  • Here you discuss the types of negative impact you are observing but you can also mention new functions that could give a development opportunity

What would be your strategy for improvement?

Finally, please share some ideas of how you would initiate positive change for your heritage area

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