Taj Mahal-era structures disappear in Bangladesh(Read article summary)
Across Old Dhaka, Bangladesh, squatters have taken up residence in the empty shells of Taj Mahal-era Mughal structures. The Urban Study Group is trying to preserve and revitalize some of the 17th-19th century buildings.
â€˘ A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.
Across Old Dhaka, decaying and sprawling mansions are hulking reminders of the cityâ€™s 19th century commercial boom. Majestic, wrought-iron gates slump inward. Gardens are overgrown. Squatters have taken up residence in some of these empty shells, but mostly these Mughal-era (17th-19th century) structures are now regarded as less important than the land on which they sit.
Taimur Islam, an architect who heads the Urban Study Group, a Dhaka-based organization campaigning to have the old city designated as a protected area, says the pace of development spells an uncertain fate for the cityâ€™s architectural heritage. Since 2004, the group has created an inventory of about 3,000 historically significant structures in Old Dhaka, where a handful of buildings are razed daily.
Mr. Taimur says that if the government took a more integrated approach to planning, it could accommodate the preservation of old buildings and also the needs of a ballooning population. It could even help reshape perceptions of Dhaka, one of the worldâ€™s fastest-growing megacities.
â€śIf itâ€™s possible to restore all those important monuments under certain guidelines and come up with an integrated plan, the rest of the areas could be revitalized too,â€ť he says.