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Dhaka Tribune

Boro Katra: a lost heritage

Update : 25 Jul 2013, 01:20 PM

The Boro Katra, an architectural monument, dating to the reign of the Mughal dynasty has now turned into Jamia Ashraful Ulum Boro Katra Madrasa and a busy marketplace.

A few years back, the government took on a project to protect the place. It wanted to repossess it from the madrasa authorities. But the project is yet to see light as it entails a huge amount of money.

The Boro Katra, once used by the travellers as the Caravan Serai (rest house for travellers), is located in the Chawk Bazar area close to the north bank of the Buriganga River in the capital.

According to the department of archaeology, the monument was built between 1644 and 1646AD. It was the official residence of Mughal prince Shah Shuja, the second son of emperor Shah Jahan.

The madrasa authorities, however, said they had been running the madrasa since 1931 and that they were the current owners of the place.

Muntassir Mamoon, a professor of the History Department of the Dhaka University, said the Boro Katra could not be conserved because there had not been enough government interference.

He believes that the madrasa authorities took out a lease on the monument, which the government could cancel at any time.

A few years back the department tried to take the monument back from the Madrasa authorities and the district administration fixed the value at about Tk410m, according to the Department of Archaeology.

Because it involved a huge amount of money, the government stopped the recovery process, said Dr Ataur Rahman, regional director of the Department of Archaeology.

The Boro Katra consists of an open quadrangle enclosed on four sides by arcaded chambers, and main entrances on the north and south.

The southern wing presents a magnificent frontage, 235ft long and consists of a three-storey gateway in the middle, flanked on either side with a two-storey structure and ending at the two corners with lofty three-storey octagonal hollow towers, with panels of plaster.

At present the eastern wing consisting of 22 chambers, which served originally as a Serai, has been almost demolished to accommodate modern shops and half the empty enclosure adjacent to eastern side houses a one-storey building.

With an aim to maintain and develop the grand Mughal monument the government of Pakistan tried to protect the building in 1956 but to no avail. 

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