Navigating through the Nur Baksh Lane in Old Dhaka maybe difficult but everyone in the area can help locate the deceiving entrance to the Zamindar house at the end of the alley.
The entrance may be like that of any other house but when the doors open, the insides behold an absolutely different scenario; as if a picture right off the page of a history book.
AM Emran, the descendant of Maulvi Abul Khairat Muhammad, a third generation zamindar (landlord) of Dhaka and Sonargaon, greets his guests with a warm welcome and helps tour his heritage home with utmost enthusiasm.
The house, sitting on around six bighas of land, was earlier named, “Yousuf Castle” and is divided into three parts: one where Emran preserved the historic glory (around 1.5-bigha land), another where his relatives live while the other is being turned into a multi-storey building.
Although the host humbly claims the house to be a heritage retreat, the central room is nothing less than a museum. The large singular room, drenched in rich history, is still as beautiful as it may have been hundreds of years ago.
The airy room is complemented by two Turkish chandeliers along with a century-old relic of the family. The greenery outside adds to the rejoicing of the heritage house premise.
He welcomed the correspondent to sit on a couch in the living room that was approximately 200 years old and had been used by the past 6 generations of his family. He further informed that SM Sultan slept on the very couch when he visited the house.
When his father passed away, Emran started hosting guests at his home, starting ‘Emran’s Heritage Home’ in 2018.
"Hospitality is like our second nature. It's a long running family tradition to treat our guests with utmost respect," he said.
A veranda adjacent to the room can be accessed from the living room through two doors. Both the doors are decorated with vibrantly coloured stained glasses on top.
Showing a fascinating table that can be detached in parts and reassembled, Emran said, “Many historical figures sat around the table in the past. Jukta front leaders used to sit here for their meetings," said the host.
Emran built new rooms beside the older ones to accommodate his family of five. However, he leaves no effort short to clean and preserve every nook and cranny of the historic house every single day.
The dining space held a showcase filled with ancient crockeries. Plates of different shapes and sizes were visible but there was a unique feature to them.
“Do you see the holes in the plates? Warm water used to be poured through the holes and inside the plates to keep the food warm for a longer period of time,” said Emran.
Emran went on to show this correspondent many of his prized possessions, such as a gold-plated two-hundred-year-old Holy Quran, a rusty sword, rare handwritten books, array of ‘attars’ (fragrant essential oils).
The host continued with the tour on the rooftop of his house filled and surrounded by plants and all sorts of greenery. A few moments spent in the rooftop will fill anyone with an aura of natural enigma.
Emran shared with the correspondent that he tried to save his family's legacy because he made a promise to his father. It is the best way to keep the family history alive.
The best part about visiting this heritage home is that the host, Emran will enlighten his guests with every detail about his family history. Noor Baksh Lane and Abul Hasnat Road are named after his ancestors.
Emran is a retired aviation professional. He spends his days being hospitable to his guests who take reservations for lunch or dinner at the Emran's Heritage Home through his Facebook page.
When guests visit the historic house, Emran himself serves them “jafrani polau” (saffron rice), “dimer shahi korma” (egg curry), “murgir chop” (fritters made with potato and minced chicken), “morog khana” (chicken roast), “chingri malai” (prawn curry), salad and borhani (traditional yogurt drink). For dessert, the menu adds “zarda” (a sweet dish made with rice, milk and sugar).
Emran also said that the dishes can vary as per order.
“Guests can pre-order “anarash ilish” (hilsa with pineapple), “dolma” (edible leaf cooked with a filling of ground meat and herbs) or “kofta” (meatballs) as per the package they choose,” he said.