This article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject. Learn how and when to remove this template message)(October 2011) (
Nimtali Deuri. The word ‘deuri’ means a gateway or an entrance. The area ‘Nimtali’ was famous for the Nawabs or Naib Nazims, who lived in the Nimtali Palace. The origin of this word could not be found, but it is assumed that the place was once full of neem trees.
A close friend of the deputy-governor resided in one of the many abandoned palaces or forts of Dhaka. In 1763, when the British Army officer Lt. Swinton stormed the city, the naib-nazim, Jasrat Khan, who lived in the main forts of Dhaka, was a prisoner of Nawab Mir Qasim in Bihar.
When Mir Qasim learnt about Jasrat Khan’s betrayal in saving the British at Dhaka disregarding the orders of Nawab Sirajuddowla, he ordered Dewan Muhammad Beg to imprison Jasrat Khan. Lt. Swinton’s attack was only an attempt to save the friendly deputy-governor.
In 1765, Lord Clive, recalling the past services of Jasrat Khan recommended to Nawab Nazmuddaula with the approval of the Calcutta Council, to re-appoint Jasrat Khan the Naib-Nazim of Dhaka. Thus Jasrat Khan returned to Dhaka only to find his residence being taken over by the British and stayed in Bara Katra, another old place of the Mughals. Soon, Swinton was instructed by the Calcutta Council to build a new residence for the naib-nazim. The construction of this new palace at Nimtali was hastily completed towards the end of the Mughal rule of Dhaka in 1765-1766. As it was situated in the Nimtali Mahalla (ward) of the city, it was popularly called Nimtali Kuthi (Nimtali Palace). All but one Nimtali Deuri of the palace have now disappeared.Jasrat Khan left Bara Katra and moved to his own palace (Nimtali Palace).Since then it has been addressed as the residence of the Naib-Nazims.
The Nimtali Palace remained the official residence of the naib-nazims till 1843. With the consolidation of power of the East India Company, the naib-nazims gradually lost all military and administrative functions as well as authority. They were officially stripped off their power in 1822.
The last of the naib-nazims, Nawab Gaziuddin, who lived there, frittered away all the wealth that the family possessed and lived a very extravagant life and died in 1843. From then on the ownership of the palace changed several hands and most of it was demolished until the early part of the 20th century, when the new capital and University of Dhaka were being built, the Government acquired the entire Nimtali area.
The palace of the naib-nazims of Dhaka and the surrounding lands eventually became the property of the Dhaka University. The only surviving gateway now stands within the compound of the ‘ASIATIC SOCIETY’ as the only witness to testify the existence of the Nimtali Palace.
Nimtali Palace occupied a considerable area on the northern side of the city between the modern Nimtali Mahalla and the High Court building and consisted of a number of separate buildings. The site was just at the periphery of the city, mostly surrounded by woodlands. No detailed or correct description of the place could be given as no contemporary narrative or plan was found. However, it is assumed, judging from the only existent gateway, the Nimtali Deuri that it was built after the usual Mughal palace designs with several gateways, inner court, private residences, and place of prayer, tanks or water reservoirs, barracks for soldiers and quarters of staff, gardens and the like.
A narrow water channel running from the north and drawing water from the Kamalapur River in the east formed the water supply system of the palace. There was also a large tank called Nawabi Dighi (which still survives and can be located in between the Fazlul Haque Hall and Shahidullah Hall of Dhaka University) and the Nawabi Masjid or mosque, a single domed structure to the south of the present Asiatic Society complex.
Bishop Heber who visited the city in 1824 left a graphic description of the palace complex although most of it was then in ruins. He mentions a “really handsome gateway (Nimtali Palace), with an open gallery, where the ‘Nobut’, or evening martial music, is performed, a mark of sovereign dignity, to which the Nawab never had a just claim, but in which Government continued to indulge him”. He further mentions, “A very handsome hall, an octagon, supported by gothic arches, with a verandah round it, and with high gothic windows.”
In addition to what has been mentioned by Heber, there was one chamber with twelve doors known as ‘Baraduari’. It is said that the chamber was earmarked for the audience of the twelve Sardars (leaders) of mahallas of the city, who at the time of the audience used to enter the hall individually through the twelve doors. This audience hall which once housed the Dhaka museum from about 1914 to 1983 is now a part of the teachers’ residential quarters of the Dhaka University, Anwar Pasha Bhaban.
As long as the palace remained the residence of the naib-nazim, it played many significant roles in the social and cultural life of Dhaka. It acted as the upholder of the Mughal culture in Dhaka patronizing classical music and dance, painting and other arts and crafts. One colorful event that took place there regularly was the Eid procession brought out in celebration of the Eid-ul-Fitr, which started and ended at Nimtali Deuri after parading different parts of the city.