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Joydevpur Palace

This extensive palace, occupying an area of about fifteen acres of flat-land, is about twenty four miles due north of Dhaka via the tongi industrial area. The last three miles of approach road branches off towards the east at the intersection of the Mymensingh and Mirzapur road. The palace is highly irregular in plan, with its main axis from north to south measuring about 400’-0” in length. Its double-storeyed entrance portico on the south projects about 20’-0” beyond the main building and is supported on four pairs of round columns. The porch is backed by a wide verandah. On either side of the hall there are three sets of rooms each, to the east and the west. A broad wooden staircase, accommodated within the entrance hall on the right, gives access to the upper floor, which is similarly laid out in plan. This front block, known as ‘Baro-Lalan’   was reserved for European guests.

Behind this block is a 100’-0” square open court, occupied by a ‘Nat-mandap’, which is covered with a humped-back corrugated iron roof carried on a series of slender concrete pillars. Looking inward to the ‘Nat-Mandap’ there are two-storeyed blocks of residential apartments on the southern, eastern and western sides with an uninterrupted verandah in front with semi-circular arches. The verandah on the fourth side, however, is supported in a number of Corinthian columns. Above it is an oprn terrace, flanked on either side by two, ‘chau-chala’ shrines, and behind it rises the plain upper storey. Further to the north and behind the first court is another open ourt, which is surrounded on three sides by tow-storeyed residential apartments with paired round columns in front. On the remaining northern side there is the family shrine. The verandah in front of the shrine rests on two parallel rows o six round columns, each ringed around with a series of slender Ionic columns supporting the semi-circular arches above.

Beyond this block and further to the north there is a north-south running block of residential apartments, accessible through a narrow corridor to the west.
This long block has a projecting  wing on the west which is at right angles to the main block and which is known as the ‘Rani-Mahal’ or the ‘harem’ of the palace. The ‘Rani-Mahal’ which is also two-storeyed has a semi-circular projection on its southern side with a large airy balcony, supported on a series of semi-circular arches. This part of the complicated palace is enclose on the west by a low boundary wall and 200’-0” wide foace which runs the whole length of the Rajbari and behond. Across the moat to the south-west , is a small dilapidated bungalow, said once to be the residential quarters of the infamous family doctor Ashutosh Das Gupta.
Immediately behind the ‘Rani-Mahal’ and further to the north there is an east-west running block which now hu8se the superintendent of police’s office. It was originally a single-storeyed building but recently a second storey has been added.

Outside the Rajbari, across a meadow on the south, stood the manager’s office, the ‘dewankhana’ and two stable blocks where, in 1909, forty horses and carriages, including a silver mounted carriage and twenty elephants were housed.

The stupendous mass of this irregularly laid out palace, the largest in Bangladesh, which contains more than 360 apartments of varying dimensions, now houses the newly created headquarters of the Gazipur district.

Joydevpur was the family seat of the powerful zamindars of Bhawal who were the leading Hindu Landlords of the Dhaka district. It is ringed around by the famous ‘Gazari’ forest of the area which extends up to the heavy forest reserve of eastern Madhupur Garh in Tangail district. Even fifty rears back it was a fascinating game sanctuary of wildlife in which tigers, elephants, wild boar and herds of deer freely roamed about.
The first renowned chief of Bhawal was Fazl Ghazi, a close associate of Isa Khan, one of the leading  ‘Bara Bhuiyans’ of Bengal. Bahadur Ghazi, one of his descendants, received a ‘jaigir’ of 22 Parganas in East Bengal from the Mughal Emperor Akbar. The zamindari was retained by the Ghazi family who originally settled at Kaliganj till the time of Daulat Gahazi when, in 1645 A.D., they received a fresh settlement. Daulat Ghazi, however, failed to regularly pay the revenue o his estate and as a consequence, his zamindari was taken away from him  by the Mughals and was settled in favour of his thee Hindu employees: Bala Ram, Krishna Ram Chaudhury and BalasannaGhosh. Bala Ram was succeeded by his son Sri8krishna. Lakshi Narayan, sixty in line of descent from Bala Ram, held the zamindari in 1763 when the East India Company received the ‘Dewani’  of Bengal. His son Kali Narayan extended his estate considerably by purchasing a share belonging to Mr. Wise, the famous indigo-planter’s estate in Bhawal and by acquiring the zamindari of Phulbaria. Kali Narayan died in 1878 and was succeeded by his son, Raja Rajendra Narayan Dev Bahadur, who died in 1901. He had three sons: Ranendra, Ramendra and Rabindra Narayan. The eldest two did not survive long and as they left no issue, the youngest succeeded to the inheritance. The main fabric of the Joydevpur Palace seems to have been built around 1838 by zaminda Kali Narayan.

The vast palace remains of Bhawal conjures up an extremely tragic human dama for one of the two comparatively recent and strange murder cases involving the heirs of two princely estates. These triggered off a wave the Bhawal Prince murder case and the Pakur Prince murder case in Bihar.


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