Ahsan Manzil (Pink Palace): The residence of the feudal landlords of Dhaka

Ahsan Manzil, also known as the Pink Palace, is one of Dhaka city’s most popular tourist attractions. Located in Old Dhaka on the bank of the river Buriganga, this was the residence of the most influential family in Dhaka, who were the feudal landlords during British rule in the Indian Sub-Continent.

The Nawab family acquired a small property in the early 19th century and built this massive palace on that property over the next few generations, as their income flourished. The palace eventually declined with the end of British rule. Govt. of Bangladesh later acquired the property and opened it as a museum after renovation. Ahsan Manzil is a must visiting attraction for anyone visiting Bangladesh.

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A photo of Ahsan manzil (Pink Palace) in Old Dhaka at present

Ahsan manzil (Pink Palace) in Old Dhaka at present. ©Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

The Early Stage of the Property

In the Mughal period, there was a summer house of Sheikh Enayet Ullah, the landlord of Jamalpur Porgona (district), in this place. Sheikh Enayet Ullah was a very charming person. He acquired a massive area in Kumartuli and included it in his summer house. Here he built a beautiful palace and named it “Rong Mahal”. He entertained here, keeping beautiful girls collecting from home and abroad, dressing them in gorgeous dresses and expensive ornaments.

There is a saying that the Faujdar of Dhaka (representative of the Mughal emperor) was attracted to one of the beautiful girls. He invited Sheikh Enayet Ullah to a party one night and killed him in a conspiracy when returning home. That girl also committed suicide in anger and sorrow. There was a one-doomed cemetery of Sheikh Enayet Ullah in the north-east corner of the palace yard, which was ruined at the beginning of the 20th century.

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Photo of a side view of the Rong Mahal (Entertainment House) of Ahsan Manzil

A side view of the Rong Mahal (Entertainment House) of Ahsan Manzil. ©Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

Acquiring the Property by the Nawab Family

In Nawab Alibardi Khan’s period around 1740 A.D., Sheikh Moti Ullah, the son of Sheikh Enayet Ullah, sold the property to the French traders. There was a French trading house beside this property. The trading house became wealthier after purchasing this property. At that time, french traders could do business here without paying any taxes by a decree from the emperor Awrangajeb.

The French became wealthy doing business here in competition with the English and the other European companies. They made a big palace and dug a pond for sweet water in the newly purchased property. The pond still exists in the compound of Ahsan Manzil, which was called “Les Jalla” at that time. In the English-French war, the French got defeated, and the English captured all their properties. On the 22nd June of 1757, the French left the trading house with a fleet of 35 boats from the river station of Buriganga in Kumartuli.

In 1785, the English transferred the property to a French tradesman named Mr. Champigni and retaken it in 1801. According to the Paris agreement of 1814, the French claimed all their left properties at Dhaka, and in 1827 the property was again returned to the French. For the increasing power of the English, the French were forced to leave the sub-continent. They decided to sell all their properties in Dhaka. So in 1830, the trading house of Kumartuli was purchased by the established landlord of Dhaka, Khwaja Alimullah.

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Photo of the Ondor Mahal (Residential House) of Ahsan Manzil

The Ondor Mahal (Residential House) of Ahsan Manzil. ©Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

The Founding of Ahsan Manzil

After some renovation work, the French trading house became the residence of Khwaja Alimullah. In his time, a stable and a family mosque was added to the compound. After his death, his son Khwaja Abdul Gani made a huge development to the property and named it “Ahsan Manzil” on his son Ahsan Ullah.

On the east side of the old building, he made a new building with a different design and also done great renovation work to the old building. Since then, the old building was called “Ondor Mahal” (The residential house), and the new building was called “Rong Mahal” (The entertainment house).

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The gangway connecting the two buildings of Ahsan Manzil

The gangway connecting the two buildings of Ahsan Manzil. ©Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

The Reconstruction of Ahsan Manzil

On the evening of 7th April 1888, a great tornado hit Dhaka city, causing great damage. Ahsan Manzil was greatly damaged and abandoned. An English engineer from Kolkata arrived here to examine the palace. He gave the opinion that except for the “Rong Mahal”, all other parts of the palace have to be reconstructed.

So Khwaja Abdul Gani and his son Ahsanullah turned their full attention to reconstruct the palace. During that time, both buildings were reconstructed with a new design, made and supervised by the local engineer Gobinda Chandra Roy.

The old French building was reconstructed to a two-storied building keeping similarity to the Rong Mahal. A gangway was made with wood connecting the first floor of two buildings. The most beautiful thing made at this time was the doom, which made the palace so beautiful.

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Photo of a river view of Ahsan Manzil (Pink Palace)

A river view of Ahsan Manzil (Pink Palace). ©Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

The Decline of Ahsan Manzil

After the death of Khwaja Ahsanullah in 1901, the glory of Ahsan Manzil was ended. His successors couldn’t continue the glory for the internal family quarrel. They rented different parts of the palace to tenants, who actually made it a slum. In 1952, govt. acquired the property and left under the supervision of the Dhaka Nawab court. In 1985, Dhaka National Museum acquired the property and made it a museum.

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Photo of a front view of the Rong Mahal (The entertainment house) in Ahsan Manzil

A front view of the Rong Mahal (The entertainment house) in Ahsan Manzil. ©Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

Visiting Hours of Ahsan Manzil

Ahsan Manzil is temporarily closed since Covid
Summer Schedule (April – September)
  • Saturday – Wednesday: 10.30 AM – 05.30 PM
  • Friday: 03.00 PM – 07.30 PM
  • Thursday: Closed
Winter Schedule (October – March)
  • Saturday – Wednesday: 09.30 AM – 04.30 PM
  • Friday: 02.30 PM – 07.30 PM
  • Thursday: Closed
Govt. Holidays
  • Ahsan Manzil will remain closed during any govt. holiday.
Ramadan Schedule
  • Saturday – Wednesday: 09.30 AM – 03.00 PM
  • Thursday & Friday: Closed
Eid Holidays
  • Ahsan Manzil will remain closed for visitors during the Eid day and the previous day of the Eid. It will remain open as usual from the next day of the Eid day.

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Photo of visitors at Ahsan Manzil (Pink Palace) in Old Dhaka

Visitors at Ahsan Manzil (Pink Palace) in Old Dhaka. ©Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

Entry fees of Ahsan Manzil

  • Local Visitors: 20 BDT
  • SAARC Country Visitors: 300 BDT
  • Other Foreigners: 500 BDT

Reference:
  • Ahsan Manzil O Dhakar Nawab: Oitihasik Ruprekha – Dr. Muhammad Alamgir

Have you ever visited Ahsan Manzil (Pink Palace)? How amazing have you found it? Please share your experience with us in the comments!

You might also be interested in reading 13 Best places to visit in Bangladesh you can’t miss and 101 Things to know about traveling Bangladesh.

Check out our Old Dhaka Tour to visit the key attractions of New and Old Dhaka, including Ahsan Manzil (Pink Palace). The full-day tour starts from $70* US with an air-conditioned car, English-speaking guide, all entrance tickets, lunch at a local restaurant with authentic local food, a rickshaw, and a boat ride.

Check out our 1-7 days tour and excursion packages in Bangladesh and 8-28 days holiday packages in Bangladesh to travel Bangladesh with comfort.

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