US Government completes restoration and preservation at historic Lalbagh Fort’s ‘Hammam Khana’

State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid on Wednesday said that the country's history, heritage, and cultural preservation are top priorities for the current government under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

As a part of this, the restoration and conservation work of the historical 'Hammam Khana' (Royal Bathhouse) of Lalbagh Fort, built during the Mughal period by Emperor Aurangzeb's third son Prince Muhammad Azam Shah, has been completed recently with the funding of the US Embassy in Dhaka.

The State Minister expressed gratitude on behalf of the reigning government to the US Embassy on Wednesday at the closing ceremony of the project titled "Restoring, Retrofitting, and 3D Architectural Documentation of Historical Mughal-era Hammam Khana at Lalbagh Fort," at Old Dhaka in the capital.

The event was joined by the State Minister as the chief guest, with special guests US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas and Cultural Affairs Secretary Md Abul Mansur. The ceremony was chaired by Chandan Kumar Dey, Director General, Department of Archaeology, while the adviser of the project Dr Abu Sayeed M Ahmed, Dean at the school of environmental Science and Design, University of Asia Pacific, briefly demonstrated the project.

Back in March 2021, the then-US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Miller and State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid officially inaugurated the US-funded Lalbagh Fort cultural preservation and architectural documentation project in Old Dhaka, marking the golden jubilee of the country's independence, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's birth centenary and the golden jubilee of the diplomatic ties between the US government and Bangladesh.

The project was funded through the US government's prestigious Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP), which supported restoring the Mughal-era Hammam Khana, one of three primary structures at the Lalbagh Fort complex dating from the 17th century with an allotment of USD 185,933 (around BDT 2 crores).

At the closing ceremony of the project, special guest Ambassador Peter Haas said, "Promoting cultural diversity, supporting freedom of expression, and preserving cultural heritage around the world are priorities for the United States. All of us must work together and protect the richness of our cultural heritage for future generations."

State Minister KM Khalid said that the Ministry of Cultural Affairs is working on the renovation and preservation of several historical and archaeological structures, including the Bara Sardar's house located on the premises of Sonargaon Folk and Crafts Foundation, which has been beautifully renovated.

"An initiative has been taken to restore and preserve the historic Panam City of Sonargaon through the Directorate of Archaeology. Survey activities have already been completed, documentation work is in progress. Its successful completion will mark a milestone in the archaeological restoration-preservation of the country," Khalid said at the event.

Cultural Affairs Secretary Md Abul Mansur said, "Lalbagh Fort is an important monument built during the Mughal period, characterized for its archaeological and unique architecture with historical importance. The renovation and preservation work of Lalbagh Fort 'Hammam Khana' has been carried out following the proper rules of UNESCO guidelines and Heritage Impact Assessment."

The Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) is among the US government's most significant cultural initiatives abroad. In the past 20 years, the United States has supported 11 AFCP projects in Bangladesh at a total value of over $576,000 (BDT 6 crores) to preserve and restore its cultural heritage and patrimony.

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