8 months ago

Qazi Bari Heritage Estate: Drinking history over a meal

Qazi Bari Heritage Estate, Old Dhaka
Qazi Bari Heritage Estate, Old Dhaka

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Apart from 'Kolkata Kacchi' or 'Shomsher Alir Khichuri' in Old Dhaka, did you hear the name 'Qazi Bari Heritage Estate'? Well, if you haven't yet, this is your opportunity to visit a home carrying 200 years of history with Mughal, Sultani and British traditions and have breakfast, lunch, and dinner there.

With the initiative taken by Taimur Islam, the founder of Urban Study Group, there has been this arrangement to let people visit several Urban Heritage homes where people will come to know about the history and have lunch, dinner and spend the night.

From the outside, 'Qazi Bari' doesn't look that big and certainly doesn't appear as it carries such a long history. Whatever it looks from the outside, you'll be amazed at the well-furnished interior. Qazi Saad Ullah Alim who is supervising the Qazi Bari Heritage Home, will greet the visitors, following the hereditary lineage of the Qazi Family.

Qazi Family is one of the fourteen most prominent families in Old Dhaka. There are many assumptions about the root of the Qazi Family. But a general conclusion can be made by looking at the old coins Qazi Saad shows the visitors with which he played in his childhood. Some of these coins have pictures of Madina, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, and there are also some square-shaped Mughal coins.

There are three tombs in the outer quarter of the house where the names are written in Persian language. Looking at these symbols, a general assumption can be made that the 'Qazi Family' ancestors may have come from the Middle East. But one thing Qazi Saad confirmed himself is that his ancestors came to preach religion.

Going back a couple of centuries, this place was a jungle. It was cleaned and turned into a mosque by Syed Ahmed Boks. He was considered a sage, the founder of the Qazi Family. The house was built by Mirza Elahi Boks in 1820.

Mirza Elahi had five sons; two of them joined in the Sipahi Mutiny against the British in 1857. One of them was blown up with a cannonball as a punishment. The other was exiled to the prison of Andaman Island. The mosque was later renovated by Maulana Rahim Boks and his son, Qazi Abdur Rauf. At that time, the family's name did not have the title Qazi. The title came in 1892, during the British period when the Muslims in Dhaka didn't recognise the British court system. Abdur Rauf initiated a separate court system according to the Muslim Law, which brought the title 'Qazi'. That is why the road leading to the home was named after him as 'Qazi Abdur Rauf Road'.

The mosque's architecture beside the Qazi Bari combines western Corinthian and Sultani Architecture. There were designs of flowers and leaves on the mosque's wall, accompanied by designs with broken glass pieces. There are windows made of teak wood and walls with the combined design of Roman and Mughal architecture. You will see a penholder made of Ivory and Bull's horn, a 200-year-old bedstead made of Shishak wood, an old gramophone of the famous company 'His Master's Voice', swords hanging in the drawing room, an old trunk consisting of formal papers which were signed in different periods concerning the ownership of the house and different lands, and many other antic pieces.

Many tourists and diplomats used to visit the house, and some suggested turning this house into a heritage home. So Qazi Saad Ullah Alim followed their advice. Different packages, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and barbeque party, are offered by Qazi Bari Heritage Home. The information is available on the Qazi Bari Heritage Estate Facebook page. The recent inclusion allows the visitors to spend the night with friends and families there.

Qazi Saad plans to turn the history of Qazi Bari into a book and publish it. If it happens, the present generation will be able to know more about their ancestors' culture and traditions.

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