History of Lalbagh Fort

Know the history of Lalbagh Fort – one of the most attractive tourist spots in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Lalbagh Fort is the most popular and renowned fort and a great signature of art by Mughal Emperor in Bangladesh. It is also known as Fort Aurangabad. It is situated in Lalbagh of old Dhaka, thats why names so. It is situated by the bank of the river Buriganga in a rich red soil. It was an incomplete structure by a Mughal Emperor named Prince Muhammad Azam (third son of Aurangazeb). He started the work of the fort in 1678 during his vice-royality in Bangladesh (Previous Bengal). He stayed in Bengal for 15 months. It remained incomplete when he was called by his father Aurangazeb.

Shaista Khan was the new Subedar of Dhaka in that time, and he did not complete the fort. In 1684, the daughter of Shaista Khan named Iran Dukht (Pari Bibi) died there. After her death, he started to think the fort as ominous, and left the structure incomplete. Among the 3 major parts of Lalbagh Fort, one is the tomb of Pari Bibi.

After Shaista Khan left Dhaka, it lost its popularity. The main cause was that the capital was replaced from Dhaka to Murshidabad. After the end of royal Mughal period, the fort became abandoned. In 1844, the area achieved its name as Lalbag replacing Aurangabad, so the fort as Lalbag Fort.

The fort consists of three buildings:

  1. The Mosque (west)
  2. The tomb of Pari-bibi (middle of east-west of the fort)
  3. The Diwan-i-aam palace (east)

The mosque was used for praying in that time, and still in use. The beautiful structure and the handy work there are great. People get amazed by seeing this kind of royal art. Many Islamic art and wall designs are preserved there.

Shaista khan could’nt make this fort better but he designed the tomb of Pari Bibi gorgeously. He brought Marble stone, tiles, handy-crafts of flower-leaves there. This is the only place in Bangladesh where 9 rooms under there decorated with this kind of items. The roofs are made of black stones. In the top of the tomb, the dome is covered with pure copper. This beautiful 20.2 meter tomb was inaugurated in 1688.

Diwan-i-aam is the greatest part of Lalbagh Fort. It was used as office in that time. Diwan-i-aam is the place from where the Mughal Emperor gave directions to the normal people once in a week. There is also a royal bathroom house known as hammam.

A painting of Lalbagh Fort from 1814 by Charles D'Oyly
A painting of the fort from 1814 by Charles D'Oyly

There are 3 gateways to enter the fort. The southern gateway is the most important and one can see it from Buriganga. It has a three-storied structure. But the middle structure is covered by Minaret thats why it looks like a 2 storied structure.

In the total area of Lalbagh fort there are also Royal garden, Canal etc. After a cartain time Mughal emperor Aurangazeb donated the fort to Shaista khan in memory of his daughter Pari Bibi. The successor of Shaista khan got revenue after his death by leasing the fort to the government. After 1853 the cantonment was replaced in Lalbag Fort from Purana Paltan. Currently, the Archaeological department of Bangladesh is maintaining this Historical place. Almost 3 million people visit this place every year.

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See Also:

Wikipedia article on Lalbagh Fort

Photo: In curtacy of Wikipedia

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Raw Hasan

Raw Hasan is the owner of Nijhoom Tours - a renowned tourism company in Bangladesh, and founder of Bangladesh Travel Assistance - a site devoted to help tourists and expats to make their life easier. Follow him on Twitter @RawHasan

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