Vol. 5 Num 597 Wed. February 01, 2006  
Star City

Historic Ramna Gate left uncared for

Thoughtless activities of people are destroying the architectural structures and monuments bearing the history of the 400-year-old city. One such example is the Ramna Gate at the entrance to the road leading to Dhaka University TSC from Doyel Chattar.

A round 15 feet high monu-ment in the middle of the road and two wall-like structures on the roadside islands constitute the historic gate. Posters and wall writings have made the central monument dirty while bushes have grown around the two other structures.

There is no sign of mainte-nance or renovation. The posters put on the central monument bear the names of government, non-government, cultural and political organisations.

"Those who are supposed to maintain the heritage of this land and pass it on to the next genera-tion are actually destroying it," says Habib Hasan, a pedestrian.

Asked about the posters of Shilpakala Academy put on the monument, Zinat Barkatullah, director of production depart-ment of the academy, said: "We never paste any poster on any wall or historic structure of the city. "

"The poster bearing acade-my's name is about a cultural event scheduled to be held in our auditorium. The organisers have rented the auditorium for the show," she said.

Sohel Farouquie, the chief conservatory officer of Dhaka City Corporation (DCC), said: "DCC cleans the posters every morning. But due to lack of awareness of people, the historic structure is not properly main-tained. "

"If we clean it in the morning, the gate will be covered with posters in the following evening. DCC have no gardener to clean the bushes," he added.

Mehzabin Khan, a former student of Dhaka University, said: "There are many such historic structures we have in this city, which always remain uncared for."

The history regarding the name of the Ramna Gate is a little confusing. City dwellers once used to call it Mir Jumlar Phatak (The gate of Mir Jumla). Mir Jumla was the third Subahdar (ruler) of Dhaka, a Mughal emperor's representative, during 1660-63.

According to 'Dhaka Smriti Bismritir Nagari,' a book by Muntassir Mamun, a professor of history at Dhaka University, the city was expanded during the period of Mir Jumla, stretching up to Jafarabad in the west, Postagola in the east and Tongi Bridge in the north.

It is generally believed that Mir Jumla constructed this gate in order to guard the city from the attacks of the Magh from the north, according to the Bangla-pedia.

Ahmed Hasan Dani, a historian who wrote 'Dacca: A Record of its Changing Fortunes' in 1962, however, discovered the original history of the gate.

Examining the pillars he concluded that the pillars were made in European architectural style--a fact which proves that they were not built in the Mughal period.

According to Dani, British magistrate Charles Dawes, an active member of the Dhaka Committee formed for the deve-lopment of the city, built these pillars in the 1820s.

Prof Muntassir Mamun says: Dawes used the prisoners of jails to clean the Ramna area and founded a racecourse with a wooden fence around the oval-shaped field. To connect this racecourse with the main city, he constructed a road, which is now known as the Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, and built the Ramna Gate at the entrance of it.

Shehreen Rashid, a resident in DU area, said, "I have read in history books that once the city dwellers used to pass through this road on elephants. The British people used to come to enjoy horserace at the raceco-urse."

The Ramna Gate stands sans maintenance or renovation in the DU campus. PHOTO: Syed Zakir Hossain