Lalbagh Fort, also known as Fort Aurangabad, is an unfinished Mughal fort complex from the 17th century, situated on the southwestern edge of Dhaka, Bangladesh, overlooking the Buriganga River. The construction was initiated in 1678 AD by Mughal Subahdar Muhammad Azam Shah, who was not only Emperor Aurangzeb’s son but also became an emperor himself. His successor, Shaista Khan, did not carry on with the construction, even though he resided in Dhaka until 1688.
The Mughal prince Muhammad Azam, the third son of Aurangzeb, initiated the fort’s construction in 1678 during his vice-royalty in Bengal, where he stayed for 15 months. However, the fort remained incomplete when he was called back by his father, Aurangzeb.
Shaista Khan assumed the role of subahdar of Dhaka at that time but chose not to complete the fort. In 1684, the daughter of Shaista Khan, named Iran Dukht Pari Bibi, passed away within the fort’s premises. Following her demise, he deemed the fort unlucky and left it unfinished. Among the significant components of Lalbagh Fort, one comprises the tomb of Pari Bibi.
As Shaista Khan departed Dhaka, the fort lost its popularity, and the primary reason was, shift of the capital from Dhaka to Murshidabad. With the end of the royal Mughal era, the fort fell into neglect. In 1844, the name Aurangabad was replaced by Lalbagh, giving rise to Lalbagh Fort.
The fort was considered to be a combination of three buildings (the mosque, the tomb of Bibi Pari and the Diwan-i-Aam), with two gateways and a portion with the partly damaged fortification wall. A recent excavations carried out by the Archaeology Department of Bangladesh have revealed the existence of other structures within.
The southern fortification wall features a substantial bastion in the southwest corner. To the north of this wall stood utility buildings, stables, an administration block, and the western segment encompassed a captivating roof garden replete with fountains and a water reservoir. The residential portion was situated to the west of the eastern fortification wall, primarily southwest of the mosque.
The southern fortification wall boasts five bastions, each two stories tall at regular intervals, while the western wall has two bastions, the largest of which is positioned near the primary southern gate. These bastions include tunnels.
The central expanse of the fort comprises three edifices: the Diwan-i-Aam and hammam to the east, the Mosque to the west, and the Tomb of Pari Bibi in between these two, albeit not equidistantly aligned. A water channel adorned with intermittent fountains interconnects these three buildings from east to west and north to south.
Lalbagh Fort in Dhaka can be easily reached by rickshaw, CNG (auto-rickshaw), or taxi from prominent points like Gulistan, Shahbagh, or Curzon Hall.