The grand old building of Chattogram

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The story of PK Sen Sattala: the grand old building of Chattogram

Tarek Onu and Aziz Hakim

October 04, 2022, 10:05 a.m.

Last modification: 04 October 2022, 16:29

After the Partition of 1947, between 1950 and 1952, PK Sen sold this house to Sadananda Ghosh and left for India. Sadananda, along with two of his younger brothers – Sushil and Chintananda Ghosh – have settled down, according to Huda.

Since the purchase of PK Sen Sattala by the Ghosh family, the structure has not only stood the test of time; it witnessed much of the crucial stories of this part of the world – the 1971 War of Liberation was a major incident among them, and the structure suffered heavy damage from the conflict.

Being a Hindu family, the Pakistani army extensively exploited and destroyed the house. None of the old windows and doors survived their intrusion. Their property was looted and one of the three Ghosh brothers, Chintaharan, was kidnapped during the war and never returned.

Photo credit: Tareq Onu

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Photo credit: Tareq Onu

Photo credit: Tareq Onu

The remaining Ghosh brothers slowly tried to restore their home after the war. But the last few decades have taken their toll. As upright as it is, it is now dangerous to live there without major renovation.

Eventually, Sadananda Ghosh left for India with his family, leaving only Sushil behind. The ownership shares of Sadananda and Chintaharan were sold piece by piece. What remains of PK Sen Sattala is now in the name of Sushil. Sushil’s four sons now live there.

The dilemma with the present and the future of PK Sen Sattala

Maintaining this historic site comes with irregular challenges.

To save the building and preserve its historical significance, the current owners reportedly contacted local authorities in the early 2000s. Their attempt failed. Over time, the structure became even more dangerous to live with.

Photo credit: Tareq Onu

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Photo credit: Tareq Onu

Photo credit: Tareq Onu

The Ghosh family even received a notice from the Chattogram City Corporation that the building was no longer habitable and the family needed to move. Frustrated, they turned it over to AirBell, a Chattogram development company, to take it apart and build something new in its place. Joytu Ghosh, one of Sushil’s sons, declined to comment on the matter.

Former Deputy Chief Urban Planner Md Shahinul Islam Khan of Chattogram Development Authority (CDA) intervened. He did not approve the demolition of PK Sen Sattala or the construction of any other structure in its place.

According to CDA government-approved Chattogram Metropolitan Master Plan report, PK Sen Sattala is a unique heritage and has cultural value. Despite a government-approved report, the structure still needs government approval to restore it to its original condition.

“The architecture of PK Sen Sattala is rare not only in Chattogram but in Bangladesh,” said urban planner and architect Zarina Hossain. His involvement in Shahinul Islam’s attempt to save PK Sen Sattala from the imminent threat of demolition further aided the cause.

Photo credit: Tareq Onu

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Photo credit: Tareq Onu

Photo credit: Tareq Onu

Zarina Hossain said: “The PK Sen Sattala had been listed for conservation under ‘Areas and Buildings in Need of Preservation and Conservation from a Historical, Architectural, Environmental or Ecological Point of View in Annex 4 of the Detailed Plan of the area for Chattogram Metropolitan Master Plan by CDA “.”

Huda Faisal organizes exhibitions in Japan, where he is a doctoral student, to rally support from the international community to maintain the historic significance and status of the building.

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