Uttara Gonobhaban

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Coordinates: 24°25′12″N 88°59′28″E / 24.42000°N 88.99111°E / 24.42000; 88.99111

Uttara Gano Bhaban

Uttara Gano Bhaban also known as The Maharaja's Palace or Dighapatia Palace (or Rajbari) is a historic, formerly royal palace in Natore, Bangladesh. It was built by the Raja of Dighapatia but is used as the official residence of the heads of states of Bangladesh in North Bengal. In the north, it serves as an official Presidential Palace. Various historic meetings took place at the palace,[1] during the British Raj, East Pakistan era and finally after the independence of Bangladesh.

History[edit]

Front gate of Uttara Gano Bhaban

Originally used as the residence of the Rajas of Dighapatia, it is located about 2.40 km away from the Natore town. Raja Dayaram Roy constructed the main structure of the palace along with a few wings; but it was Raja Pramada Nath Roy rebuilt the whole palace complex after the catastrophic earthquake of 1897.

The Dighapatia Palace was made 'Dighapatia Governor House' on July 24, 1967 by Abdul Monem Khan, the Governor of erstwhile East Pakistan. Later, after the country's independence, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, President of Bangladesh declared the Dighapatia Governor House as Uttara Gonobhaban on February 9, 1972. Before the split of Pakistan and Bangladesh, President Ayub Khan resided at the Palace.[2]

Architecture[edit]

Family Coat of Arms on stained glass

The palace area occupies around 43 acres of land or around 25 bighas, enclosed within a moat and a high perimeter wall. The estate also contains few lakes and greenery. The front gate entrance houses an imposing four-storied pyramidal gateway with a clock tower. It is also contains a series of arched openings on three storeys and two circlets flanking the clock on the top storey.

The 'E' shaped east facing facade is over a 100 ft long and has a prominently protruding porch in the center. In addition, two slightly projecting wings exist on both ends. The facade is decorated with floral designs in its plasterwork. A series of pointed trefoil arched openings provide access to the building across a running balcony in front. The parapet on the roof is decorated with merlons. The hemispherical dome with a sharp finial atop covers the central foyer.

Bust of the Maharaja

The palace block houses nine sleeping chambers, a durbar hall, a dining hall and a danceroom. The ceiling of the durbar hall is over 25 feet from the floor and is much higher than the flanking apartments. The ceiling is decorated with painted floral motif in wood set in bays. Although the palace ground was plundered in various times in history, there are still some beautiful pieces of relics such as the neo-classical bronze Greek statues, flower vases, chandeliers, carved wooden bedstead and princely furniture. The main foyer also displays two armoured knights.

Statue in the gardens

The southern wing of the palace is similarly designed in the shape of an 'E'. There is a large garden in the front with a fountain and a few life-size marble female sculptures located at the four corner porticoes. A broad verandah in front leads to a large foyer and beyond, to a series of apartments. The roof of the verandah is carried on semi-Corinthian columns alternated by trefoil arches. A rear verandah on the western end of the block overlooks a part of the moat. The bathroom is made entirely of marble.[3]

The 'Kumar Palace' (literally Prince's Palace) located to the southeast, close to the main palace compound is a two-storeyed building that houses four main bedrooms and a dressing room on the upper floor and a series of apartments on the ground floor. The small treasury hall stands directly behind the Kumar Palace. There also exists the single storeyed 'Rani Mahal' (Queen's Palace) to the south of the main palace block, originally occupied the vast fortified area of the palace. The guesthouse, stables, the servants' quarters etc. have all disappeared with time and at the aftermath of the earthquake of 1897.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Historic Uttara Gonobhavan "The Daily Star" September 1, 2008
  2. ^ Former Presidential Palace Neglected "Probe News" Anwarul Quadir
  3. ^ Natore Uttara Gonobhaban " Beautiful Bangladesh"
  4. ^ Banglapedia: The Bangladesh Encyclopedia "Dighapatia Palace"