Engr. Anwar Ahmed poses in the compound of 'mandir wala bari' where he spent his early days
View of Mandir, from north
Part of Dhaka Medical College hostel complex (built later) seen
Entry of Dhaka Medical College hostel complex from Bakshibazar road
View of Main hostel of Ahsanullah Engg. college (now Admin office of BUET)
Road dividing BUET campus - then railway line to Fulbaria Rail station
Sketch map of Bakshibazar-BUET area around 1949 - Mandir location marked with arrow
It was around 1949, my friend and colleague Engr. Anwar Ahmed and his parents just stepped in a nice little bungalow house called the ‘University Bungalow’ at Bakshi Bazar in Dhaka. The moss covered structure ‘Mandir/Relic’ of more than a hundred years stood in the backyard of the house.
Bakshi Bazar was no bazaar at all, rather a jungle of big trees and sprawling green landscape amidst which this conspicuous Mandir and the house stood out as the only habitat around (map above). The house stood at one side of a very big stretch of land dotted with a lot of brick stacks and open greenery, where first the ‘South Hostel’ (now Nazrul Hall of BUET) of Ahsanullah Engineering College and later the Dhaka Medical College main hostel complex rose up over the years. The railway line (now Highway) used to run just north of the house behind the Mandir, beyond which the lush green playground of the Engineering College stretched out on the western fringe where stood a majestic red brick building, (then Main hostel, now the office of the Vice Chancellor of BUET). The few roads that existed would take one to the Secondary Education Board and the Dhakeswari Mandir in the south-west, another to the east Husainy Dalan and Nazimuddin Road in the south-east, another heading up north toward Dhaka Medical College Hospital and Dhaka University and then another narrow lane at south that connects Urdu road near Chawkbazar.
The Mandir/Relic within the bungalow compound, at that time, had no road connection to the outside as if it belonged exclusively to the house or the house belonged exclusively to it, and no one ever came to visit the Mandir while my friend's family stayed there for eight long years until 1957. Although this Mandir claimed no identity for itself, it gave an identity to the house, which with time came to be known as the “mandir wala bari”. When we appeared at the interview for admission to the Engineering College in 1954, Engr. Anwar wrote his address as ‘Mondir wala bari’ of Dhaka University Bungalow, Bakshi Bazar. In the first day of survey practical class late Prof. Nazmul Huq used to give the students the problem to work out the height of Mandir, the tallest structure visible from College field without leaving the boundary.
Engr. Anwar’s parents and family moved out to a new place at Shantinagar in 1957. They had a red cow that used to remain in a shed in the corner beside the Mandir. The cow was walked out to Shantinagar (a pretty long distance via the Dhaka Club and Ramna Green), but after a few days the cow left the Shantinagar house and returned to the ‘Mandir wali bari’ on its own from where she had to be fetched again. After the family left, the University had a professor live in the house and he left the very next day for fear, complaining that a lady clad in all white came out of the Mandir at night and kept searching the house for something. After he left, the University put in another teacher in the house and, reportedly, he also left within a week alleging a white clad lady used to keep sitting on the Mandir platform for the whole night watching the house. The bungalow remained vacant for long as nobody wanted to occupy the house and some professors enquired about the house being haunted or not.