Rajshahi, Bangladesh

De Districtscommissaris van het District Rajshahi in Bangladesh vermoedde VOC wortels bij een gebouw aan de Ganges die door Rajshahi loopt. Hij verzocht de Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed (RCE) om nader onderzoek. De RCE benaderde Dick ter Steege met het verzoek of deze dit onderzoek op zich zou willen nemen.

timeline Rajshahi

Het veldonderzoek heeft in  januari 2012 plaatsgevonden. De rapportage verscheen in april 2012.

De volgende tekst was de Executive Summary:

The documentation encountered in Rajshahi made clear that the history of the building can be traced back to the early 1780’s.  In that period the building was in use by the English East India Company as a seat of its Commercial Resident.

street elevation 1-DSC_0059 1-DSC_0069 1-DSC_0073 1-DSC_0078 1-DSC_0116 1-DSC_0124

In Bangladesh, no earlier documentation could be encountered. Continued research in the Dutch Archives in Holland and, through internet, also in the archives of the London India Office has revealed that Rampur Bouliah was a starting point of the Dutch trade. The building was in use as stables and as fortified point from where the gathered goods could be shipped to Chinsura.

Literature study and consulted sources in Holland[1] indicate a Dutch presence in Bengal since 1607 when the area was mainly in the hands of the Portuguese. In 1632 the Dutch became more active in the trade with the hinterland. In 1655 Chinsura became a Dutch independent trade station from the Coromandel Coast and mention places such as Chinsura, Kassim Bazar, Patna en Dhaka. But Rampur Boulia or Rajshahi was not encountered.

The present appearance of the building is unmistakably English. The English occupation of the building since the 1780’s has eradicated any trace of a previous (Dutch?) presence. The present status of maintenance is poor. However, the building has a number of high quality assets that are worth revitalizing. These entail, apart from its structure: the wall decorations in the central room on the first floor, the two left door frames between rooms 1.7 and 1.10, and the door panes on the ground floor of the central room (between room 0.7 and 0.10). In this document a space-wise indication will be given of proposed interventions.

The future of the building will depend on investments that can be made in the near future to preserve the building. The investments are related to the function the building can have.

It is proposed to make the building part of the Rajshahi City Corporation development plan for the Padma river bank. In this plan, a “Boro Kuthi Park” will be established that offers a number of in- and outdoor entertainment options for the public at large.

In addition to local users, also a broader public is targeted to visit and use the park, in combination with the shrine of Hazrat Makhdum Shah, historic information on the development of the area and some artifacts that will showcase life at that time.

To enable this, it is proposed to set up a not-for-profit foundation that will manage the building and its surroundings. The advantage of such an organization is that outside sources can be attracted. RCC and the University will jointly be presented in the Board, as well as other shareholders.

[1] VOC Center of Knowledge, Leiden, Holland

Central State Archives, The Hague, Holland

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