river town houses building
DACCA CITY, the principal place in the above district, is situated on the left or north bank of the Buriganga river, in 23° 43' 20" N. lat. and 90° 26' 10" E. long. The city is bounded on the E. by a low alluvial plain stretching to the Lakshinia river, and on the N. and N.W. by a tract of jungle interspersed with Muhammadan cemeteries, deserted gardens, mosques, and ruined houses. The streets, bazars, and lanes extend four miles along the bank of the Burfganga, the breadth of the town being about lf The chauk, or market-place, lies at the west end, near the river bank. It is a square of considerable dimensions, surrounded by mosques and shops. The numerous streets which intersect the town are extremely crooked ; and only a few are wide enough for wheeled conveyances. In parts of the city, inhabited by particular castes, such as the weavers' and shellcutters' bazars, where building ground lets at a high rent, many four-storied houses have a frontage of only 8 or 10 feet, while the side walls run back to a distance of twenty yards. The opposite ends of these buildings are roofed in ; the middle part is left open, and constitutes a small court. The ruins of the English factory, St Thomas's church, and the houses of the European residents lie along the banks of the river, and give the town a rather imposing appearance when viewed from the south. In the Armenian quarter are several large brick houses, for the most part now falling into decay. Of the old fort erected by Nawab Islam Khan, in the reign of the Emperor Jahangfr, no vestige remains ; but the jail is built on a portion of its site. The principal Muhammadan public buildings, erected by subsequent governors and now in ruins, are the Katra and the Lal-bagh Palace, - the former built by Sultan Muhammad Shuja in 1645, in front of the thank, or market place. Its extensive front faced the river, and had a lofty central gateway, flanked by smaller entrances, and by two octagonal towers rising to some height above the body of the building. The Lal-bagli Palace was commenced by Sultan Muhammad Azim, the third son of the Emperor Aurangzeb. It originally stood close to the Buriganga river ; but the channel has shifted its course, and there is now an intervening space covered with trees between it and the river. The walls on the western side, and the terrace and battlement towards the river, are of a considerable height, and present a commanding aspect from the water. These outworks, with a few gateways, the audience hall, and the baths, were the only parts of the building that survived in 1840. Since then, their dilapidation has rapidly advanced ; but even in ruin they show the extensive and magnificent scale on which this princely residence was originally designed. It appears never to have been completed ; and when Tavernier visited Dacca, circ. 1666, the Nitwit]) was residing in a temporal') wooden building in its court. The English factory was built about that year. The central part of the old factory continued to be used as a court-house till the present century, but owing to its ruinous state it was pulled down in 1829 or 1830 ; in '1840 the only portion that remained was the outward wall. The French and Dutch factories were taken possession of by the English in the years 1778 and 1781 respectively.
The trade of Dacca, which formerly was considerable, has steadily declined since the beginning of this century. In 1800 the population of the city was estimated at 200,000, while a census in 1830 returned only 66,989 inhabitants. The city still continued to decline, and in 1867 its population was estimated at 51,636 only. The rise, however, of the jute trade in late years, and increased prices for country produce, have now begun to compensate for the loss of its cotton manufactures. The census of 1872 showed that the population of the city had increased to 69,212 souls (males, 37,395 ; females, 31,817) made up as follows ; - Ilindus, 34,433 ; Muhammadans. 34,275 ; Christians, 479 ; "others," 25. Sanitary improvements are being carried out ; and a wealthy Muhammadan gentleman lately gave a donation of £5000 for the purpose of providing the city with a pure water-supply, and in 1875 it was proposed to light the main thoroughfares with gas. The principal local institutions are the Mitford Hospital and the Dacca Government College. Two English and several vernacular newspapers are published in the town.
Ilistory. - Dacca first attained political importance between 1608 and 1612. In order to check the depredations of Magh pirates from Chittagong, and the rebellions of the Afghans, it was found necessary to remove the seat of government of Bengal from Rajinahal to Dacca, where the Nawab Islam Khan erected a fort and increased the strength of the fleet and artillery, and changed the name of the town to Jahangirnagar. Subsequently, in 1704, the capital of Bengal was removed to Murshidabad, and the government of Dacca and the eastern districts made over to a deputy of the Nawab Nazim. During the time of the Mughul government, the city was under the jurisdiction of a magistrate (faufddr) and six amins, who, with the police, were maintained by rent-free grants of land. The fleet consisted of 700 war boats and state barges. Dacca was also a depot for the Mughul artillery in Eastern Bengal, and possessed a mint. On the establishment of the British power the old officers and representatives of the native rulers were pensioned, but the title of Nawab was continued in th family until 1845, when it became extinct on the death of the last incumbent without heirs. The only event of historical importance in late years was the mutiny of 1857, when two companies of the 73rd Native Infantry, which were stationed in the town, joined in the revolt, but were o•,erpowered by a small European force and dispersed. (w. w. Fr.)