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     Volume 4 Issue 29 | January 14, 2005 |

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Heritage Park at Ashulia

Imran H. Khan

Photos: Nabeel Atique

Ever have someone tell you to 'look at the bigger picture'? Well if you ever resented that remark, Heritage Park is just the place for you. Here, you will find some of Bangladesh's richest heritage but with a 'little' twist. The buildings have been resurrected into miniature selves. This idea of preserving our heritage comes from Concord Group.

With Bangladesh becoming a haven for workaholics, people need a calm and tranquil atmosphere in which to relax and unwind from the hectic job called 'life'. That is where Heritage Park comes into play. Here, one can have the pleasure of visiting different scenic sights of Bangladesh without actually having to go there.

Located in Ashulia, sprawls lazily over a lavish 20 bigha land, right next to Fantasy Kingdom, some 30 minutes from the heart of the capital.

The park is currently home to ten imitations: Ahsan Manzil, Sat Gambuj Masjid, Paharpur Bouddha Bihar, Puthia Rajbari, Chunakhola Masjid, Jatiya Smriti Soudha, Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban, Greek Smriti Soudha, Sita Kotbihar and Kantajir Temple. Other Structures in the pipeline are the Sundarbans, Saint Nicholas Church, Buddhist Pagoda and Central Shaheed Minar.

The structures were chosen on the basis of their importance. While some of the chosen structures fall under the big banner of World Heritage, others creep into their spotlight as being the oldest of their kind or as having some significant background.

The most detailed of all the structures is Kantajir Temple, which looms over the other miniatures. If one's curiosity compels one to edge closer and sneak a touch to test the sturdiness of the structure, one will be amazed at the depth and intricacy of the work.

There are many people who may not have the means or time to visit the Chunakhola Masjid in Bagerhat or the Paharpur Buddha Bihar in Naugaon. When they come to Heritage Park they will be able to get a feel of the grandeur of the structure and of our rich past. It may even inspire one to travel to the real structures to experience the structures and their surroundings first hand. Every nook and cranny has found its precise location in reproduction. They are exactly where they would be in their real life form. As one winds through the buildings one can relate to how Gulliver must have felt in the land of the Lilliputs.

Besides these miniature structures, there is an area with a range of rides to entertain both the young and old. There are rides such as Roller Coaster, Peddle Cycle Boats, Family Train, Tea Cup Swing, Slides, Battery Cars and many more. Apart from these thrills, there are also (still in development) various eateries, places to take memorable pictures and much more.

"Who am I? ...What is our identity?" These are the words S. M. Kamaluddin, Chairman of Concord Group, starts off with in a press briefing. In moments, he has the audience lulled into silence, giving a speech on how the media projects our country as one of famine and poverty. But there is so much richness in our history and past, so much to cherish but it's seldom that these are brought into light. It is Concord's dream to revive our rich past and show it to the next generation. "I believe we have shown ourselves in a new light."

At Heritage Park, each and every model had to be built brick by brick resembling the real structures that have passed the test of time. Every brick and every touch of paint needed just the same attention. "We have been building structures for a long time but this was by far the most challenging of all our tasks", says Kamaluddin.

The cost so far has reached a whopping Tk. 28 crore and more is needed as the park is still undergoing construction for its grand opening on January 13. The management has yet to pinpoint an exact amount because of the ongoing work. Increasing the 'edutainment' in and around the capital is a necessity and because this will educate the nation, Concord is not too worried about the costs it may have to bear.

Usually when one comes all the way to Ashulia with the family, a day out in the sun away from the chaos and fumes of the city, it is nice to know that your children are learning about the rich past that has made Bangladesh a haven for so many poets, artists and writers, a past that is slowly fading because for most of our countrymen it exists only in school textbooks.


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