Short Description of Borokuthi

The Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC in Dutch) was a chartered company established in 1602, to carry out colonial activities in Asia. At the early days of seventeenth century, VOC traders started business at India. Bengal offered them textiles, sugar, saltpeter, rice and clarified butter.

The Portuguese were firmly settled at Bengal since 1580, and used to control trading in Bengal with piratical force. In 1632, Subader of Bengal, Qasim Khan Juyuni, expelled Portuguese from Bengal. This paved the way for the Dutch to establish their trading center at Hugli.

In 1660, earliest mention of Rajshahi is found in a map of Bengal made by a Dutch named Van den Broucke,. W W Hunter confirms Dutch presence in the town in 1876. Hunter wrote in his book, “The town is a large and important center of commerce; and the Collector states that it was first selected by the Dutch in the early part of the last century as the seat of a factory.” In 1916, O’ Malley states, “The earliest historical mention of Rampur-Boalia that I have been able to trace occurs in the Sair-ul-Mutakharin, which states that in the middle of the eighteenth century many of the inhabitants of Murshidabad (West Bengal, India) fled across the Ganges to escape the Maratha raids and sought refuge at Rampur- Boalia and other places where ‘they built themselves houses and past their lives.’ The town had by this time become an entrepot of the Dutch trade in silk and other goods, which centred in their factory, which is still called the Boro Kuthi.”

Historically Borokuthi is the most interesting building in the town. Time of construction of Borokuthi is not much clear; all historical evidences indicate that it was build not later than early eighteen century. A series of additions were made at the later period but all were demolished during the earthquake of 1897 thus restoring the building to its original dimensions.

After its relinquishment by the Dutch, different companies, offices and institutions owned the building. It is now used as a club for the university staffs.

Borokuthi has about twelve rooms of varying dimensions, divided between two storeys. Ground floor rooms are comparatively unventilated and dark. The bastion like octagonal towers on either side, liberally provided with embrasures for musketry, boldly break the otherwise monotonous appearance of the building. There were few light caliber cannons on the roof of Borokuthi, which were removed during the British period. There is a small cemetery with graves dating back to the early years of the nineteenth century. It seems probable that there was an old Dutch cemetery in Borokuthi, which has been washed away by the river with other parts of the compound.

Borokuthi should be treated as the sources of our history and heritage. University authority must stop its unacceptable use forthwith. Government should also come forward and declare Borokuthi as a heritage building. Borokuthi may be used as a center for research and academic activities along with a Dutch cultural center.

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One Response to Short Description of Borokuthi

  1. An Observer says:

    Borokuthi is certainly a part of our history but by no means our heritage. It is part of Dutch heritage, not Bengali. What will the museum teach our people when it is set up? Will we retail to them the story of how a few cannons on the roof of the building and a few Dutchmen inside kept thousands of our countrymen in colonial subjection? Will we point to it to show how easily our people were exploited by the Dutch factors?

    A building that was a much more important part of our “heritage” was the Rajshahi Municipality building that was so casually and callously demolished to make way for a commercial tower. The Rajshahi Municipality was a symbol of how our people struggled for self government and eventually forced the colonial authorities to grant us local government powers.

    The people in charge of our history and its material remains have their priorities turned upside down!

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