Sri Krishna Acharya Chowdhury, the founder of Mymensingh Zamindari was the youngest son of his father Joy Narayan Talapatra who was settled at Karai in Bogra. After the death of his father,Sri Krishna was being brought up at his grandparent’s house which was in the village of Dhakunta in Bogra. Srikrishna was very talented and trained up with the logistical issues of land and properties. He used to visit the ‘darbar’ in Murshidabad for this purpose. Later he was selected as a regular employee of the kingdom.
He was still working as an employee during the emperor of Nawab Alivardi Khan. Sri Krishna got the Zamindari of Alapshingha pargana in 1727 as a grant from Nawab Alivardi Khan. Originally it was one of the twenty-two parganas of emperor Isa Khan. After the death of Sri krishna his four sons transferred their headquarters from Bogra to Bahadurpur and then to Muktagacha.
From ‘Ami’ part one written by zaminder Sri Jibendra Kishore Acharya Chowdhury it has been found that, the detailed history of Acharya family was pictured in the book Maharaja Suryakanta’ and ‘The Brief History of Acharya Family’ written by Yogendra Prashad Dutta (published in the Bengali year 1316). However, ‘Ami’ part one is also a unique source where the original layout of the palace is described with the background story of Muktagacha.
The old name of Muktagacha was “Binodbari” which is located twelve miles west from Mymensingh city and has an interesting local story about the naming of the place. Before the zaminders settled here, it was a small village with poor households. After the arrival of Ramram, Harram, Bishnuram and Shibram (four sons of SrikrishnaAcharya Chowdhury) people were curious and excited to visit the zaminders. The famous story is that, a local smith named Muktaram presented a lamp-stand (local name gachha) to Ramram. Ramram was so astonished and honored that he immediately decided to rename the village as Muktagacha where the first part ‘Mukta’ is from Muktaram and the last part ‘Gacha’ from gaccha, the lamp-stand.
The zaminders of Muktagacha created a moat surrounding the whole palace starting from a river named Ayman and ending at Ayman as well. They made a large scale pond at the eastern side of the palace with seven ghats (platforms) as a source of drinking water and other purposes both religious and domestic.
The original layout of the palace was quite different from now. The main entry of that was from the south. The whole palace was divided into four segments which are kachari (the formal living), living, religious area and the inner private part (the residential area). After sometimes, the whole palace was further divided into four for four successors. Thus, four entry points were recreated for the individual part. Eventually, the moat was also fragmented and lost its oneness.
Today what we see as a palace is one of the four segments of the original one. It had a library, theater and a revolving stage for performance in the original complex. Compared to Shashi Lodge in Mymensingh it seems that Muktagacha palace was inspired more by local culture and environment rather than European fascination.
Dr Nandini Awal is Associate Professor at the Department of Architecture at North South University