The City Gate

The City Gate – Mahbubur Rahman  

During the Mughal rule in Dhaka, Emperor Shahjahan’s son Shah Shuja built two magnificent Katras. Boro Katra (1643-46) was planned to build Shujas palace. The facade of the gateway is projected towards the river. Shah Shuja gave the building to Mir Abul Qasim to be used as a Katra on the condition that there should not be any rent charged from any insolvent people staying within it. The Bara Katra was adorned and embellished with all the appearances of the Mughal style. In the 18th century, Dhaka was hidden by Murshidabad under the Nawabs of Bengal. Handling by Robert Clive (1725-1774) on 23 June 1757, all territories seized by Nawabs were brought under the British East India Company. Kolkatas importance rose and Dhakas population declined severely. The magnificent architectural buildings made by the Mughals were neglected and allowed to rot; they were abandoned and undervalued by East Pakistan, as well as the subsequent Bangladesh governments.

Recently the conventional madrassa authority demolished parts of the building, which is a shame. Like the previous governments, the present Government still shows no concern about our heritage.

In this video, I would like to put three different layers of time and human values. The gate that belongs to the madrassa is neglected and mistreated. Children and older students live around the gateway but seem to be living in a separate world, which is contrastive to the outer area of the madrassa.
The busy locality of its surroundings is full of activity – women work side by side of men, children play with their neighbors; they go out with family and friends. If one looks through the Katara, one can feel the past of the Mughals, the historicity and deterioration of the building. Students from the madrassa have been living under the huge gateway and studying conventional religious education. One can find the soulless spirits roaming the very old, gloomy and lifeless historical building. The three different time zones are depicted through this video – the old Mughal pride, the present condition that relates to the madrassa and its outer banal activities.

*madrassa (a religious school that is often part of a mosque is often part of a mosque)

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