For most visitors it is just another old-style mansion among many in old Dhaka. For historians it has a special significance. The Rose Garden witnessed the birth of a political party that played a key role in our liberation war.
This two-storied nineteenth century mansion in Tikatuli will get a new look soon. It will be renamed Dhaka City Museum.
"We have already made a draft design for the museum, and on September 18 we will meet again to finalise the design," said KM Khalid, State Minister for Cultural Affairs.
It's been a year since the government bought the property for Tk 331 crore from the owners. The building is now under the purview of the Department of Archeology, a government agency that looks after and conserves heritage buildings.
The building has been under lock and key ever since the sale. It is heavily guarded by a seven member police team and a 10 member Ansar squad. However, the walled premises with its beautiful gardens never ceases to have visitors.
Political historian Mohiuddin Ahmed thinks that the palace is significant because it is the birthplace of the Awami League. He said, "On 23 June, 1949, Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani convened a meeting of the Muslim League in the mansion. Ataur Rahman Khan chaired the historic meeting attended by 300 delegates. A new political party was born out of the monolithic one, and it was named the East Pakistan Awami Muslim League. Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani was elected as the president and Shamsul Hoque the General Secretary of the new party."
Father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was elected the joint general secretary of the nascent party, which soon took the name East Pakistan Awami League.
On a Wednesday morning this month this correspondent found a bunch of visitors on the grassy lawn inside the walled premise. Khorshed Alam, an MBA student of nearby Jagannath University had come to see the mansion after reading about it on a Facebook travel page. He wasn't allowed beyond the lawn.
"I am happy to get the opportunity to see the mansion because I haven't seen any zamindar houses before. But I would have been happier if I was allowed to go inside the beautiful building," said Khorshed Alam.
Describing the mansion, Mansur Ahmed, the man in charge of the building said, it combines European and Indian subcontinental architectural styles. The ground floor features a hall and three rooms, while the first floor has another big hall and four regular sized rooms.
There is a large pond in front of the building, and a number of marble statues line different sides. The mansion stands on a 7.5 bigha plot of land.
Hrishikesh Das, a Hindu zamindar, built the palace in the late 19th century. Later Khan Bahadur Kazi Abdur Rashid bought it from him in 1936.
The old garden has a bed of rose bushes. To do justice to the name of the building, the department of archaeology recently planted a new rose garden beside it.
"We are trying to figure out how to renovate the mansion in the places where it is damaged," said Hannan Miah, director general of the department of archeology. His office is in talks with the arboriculture department to make a good rose garden.
"We are considering different plans. One of the ideas is to bring relics which are now showcased in the Dhaka City Museum, which is currently housed in the Dhaka South City Corporation building," Hannan Miah added.
The main concern of the authority now is waterlogging inside the compound, especially after heavy rainfall.
"We have already written to Dhaka South City Corporation and to Dhaka WASA to address this issue," said Hannan Miah.