Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sonargaon and panam city-Explore the Natural, Historical and Cultural Attractions of Bangladesh

 Sonargaon and panam city

On the Dhaka-Chittagong highway about 29 km from Dhaka, Sonargaon is one of the oldest capitals of Bengal. It was the seat of Deva Dynasty until the 13th century. From that century onward till the advent of the Mughals, Sonargaon was the subsidiary capital of the Sultanate of Bengal.

Another name of Sonargaon was "The City of Panam". Now, the relies of buildings of the old dynasties, Goaldia Mosque and the Folklore Museum that houses artifacts from every cultural trait of the country increase the attractions of this place.

At Jainal Abedin Museum in Sonargaon, you will find some historical and archeological things. Among the ancient monuments still intact are the Tomb of Sultan Ghiasuddin (1399-1409 A. D), the shrines of Panjpirs and Shah Abdul Alia and a beautiful mosque in Goaldi villaae.
Panam an ancient locality now in Sonargaon thana of Narayanganj district, about 2.5 kilometre to the north of Dhaka-Chittagong highway at MOGRAPARA point. It is said to have been the site of Hindu capital city of SONARGAON emerging in the last quarter of the thirteenth century. The Panam area formed part of the Muslim metropolis developed on the south of the old city, and perhaps constituted the place of residence of the early Muslim governors.

After the Mughal conquest of Sonargaon (1611) the Panam area was connected with the ruling metropolis by construction of highways and bridges. Panam still possesses three brick bridges belonging to the Mughal period: PANAM BRIDGE, DALALPUR BRIDGE and PANAMNAGAR BRIDGE. The existence of these bridges and the canals enclosing the site on three sides is indicative of its being a sub-urban area of the medieval city. The pucca road which leads from the Mograpara crossing on the Dhaka-Chittagong highway in the direction of Panam extending up to the NEEL-KUTHI looks like a dividing line between medieval Sonargaon and the present Panamnagar, the only surviving relics of the Panam area. The Panam township stands on the east of this road opposite Aminpur, and a one-arched humped bridge leads from the same road over a narrow canal to the main street of Panamnagar.

In all probability the present Panamnagar grew as a by-product of the commercial activities of the English EAST INDIA COMPANY and the PERMANENT SETTLEMENT. Sonargaon developed into a centre of trade in cotton fabrics, chiefly English piece goods, during the colonial period, and thereby grew the new township of Panamnagar. A group of Hindu talukdars, who came into being from among the traders in the nineteenth century, chose this place as their residence. The existing brick buildings of Panamnagar, obviously the residence of the Hindu merchant-talukdars, can be dated back to early nineteenth, and the later ones to late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Panamnagar which developed in the nineteenth century continued to flourish till the end of the Second World War.

Panamnagar, a unique township, stretched in a single street 5 metre wide on the average and 600 metre in length. All the buildings have the character of urban street front houses and are lined up on either side of this street which ends up at the Panam bazar. Fifty two houses exist in dilapidated and disused condition having 31 in the north side of the street and 21 on the south. Panamnagar appears to be well protected by artificial canals all around. Two fairly wide canals run parallel to the street on its either side and joined by a narrow canal on the western side over which is the entrance bridge. On the eastern side, the canal on the south swerves rightward and goes eastward crossing the north-south road that passes through the Panam bazar. The northern canal, the Pankhiraj Khal, runs eastward to meet the Meghna-Menikhali stream.
The building layouts in Panamnagar are both detached and attached types, mostly rectangular in shape and elongated in the north-south direction. Height of the buildings varies from single to three storeys. A shared use of backyard facilities among the adjoining houses can be observed from the layout of pond, ghat, well etc. The buildings follow a pattern language by which a unity has been achieved, like the use of two or three storey height, symmetry, arched openings etc. On the other hand variety has been achieved through the introduction of verandahs, balconies, loggias and porches. The crowning of the buildings with decorative parapet and projected cornice fascinatingly interlocks the structures with sky in the backdrop. The decorative treatments were transposed from European architecture and blended in places with local motifs.

Bricks of Panam, the prime construction material, have been modeled in different shape like rounded, angular, arched, pointed, semi-circular, curvilinear etc according to the need of surface articulation. The thickness of brick masonry walls vary between 50 and 70 cm. Roof stands on rafter and purlin made of wood in most cases. False wooden doors and windows shaped with plaster are also applied as a common decorative element. Cast iron brackets, ventilators, window grill, balusters have been extensively used. The use of broken China, locally known as chinitikri, is almost common in interior decoration while its stray application is visible in exterior decoration. Decoration elements have been extensively applied in the space between the arch and ceiling.
According to building layout design the dwelling houses of Panam can be classified into three basic typologies: central hall type, central courtyard type and consolidated type. The central halls being the nerve centre of the houses are highly romanticised with extensive decorations. The building activities and layout are arranged around the courtyards which are essentially enclosed, paved and open to sky. In general the courtyards are surrounded by verandah on all sides having arched openings. Consolidated typology refers to those houses without any inner court or hall. Most of the houses, particularly the single storeyed ones, belong to this typology.
Panam had altogether been a Hindu populated area. The migration of the Hindus to India after the Indo-Pak War of 1965 has reduced Panamnagar into an empty township. [Muazzam Hussain Khan]

Sonargaon's importance in the pre-Muslim period is borne out by its ancient name of Suvarnagrama (the golden village), from which it is obvious how the Muslim version of the name is derived, as well as by the existence of Langalbandh and Panchamighat, the two traditional holy bathing places of the Hindus, in this tract of land on the west bank of the old Brahmaputra. Sonargaon rose to be the seat of an independent ruler under Ghiyasuddin Bahadur Shah, and after his fall it was the headquarters of the eastern province of Bengal under the Tughlaqs till 1338. Sonargaon emerged as the capital of an independent Sultanate under Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah (1338-1349). In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Panam Nagar was developed in a part of medieval Sonargaon.

By the second Quarter of the fourteenth century AD Sonargaon had developed into a commercial metropolis; seafaring boats could easily reach Sonargaon from west Asian and southeast Asian countries. Ibn Batuta describes Sonargaon as an important port city, which had direct commercial relations with countries like China, Indonesia (Java) and the Maldives. Muslin produced in Sonargaon, especially its finest variety called khasa, had a worldwide reputation. With the loss of political status in the second decade of the seventeenth century AD Sonargaon gradually lost its commercial importance as well. It again rose to some eminence in the nineteenth century AD when Panam Nagar was established as a trading centre in cotton fabrics, chiefly English piece goods. Sonargaon developed into a seat of Islamic learning under the versatile scholar Maulana Sharfuddin Abu Tawwamah of Bokhara who came to Sonargaon sometime between 1282 and 1287 and established a Khanqah and madrasa wherein all branches of Islamic learning as well as secular sciences were taught and studied.

Copyright notice: Content and images are taken from and other websites

No comments:

Post a Comment