Bara Katra, south view, [Dhaka]
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph taken in the 1870s by an unknown photographer of the Bara Katra in Dhaka, now capital of Bangladesh. The Bara Katra was built by Abul Qasim in 1664, as a caravanserai or resting-place for merchants and their camel trains, and is situated on the eastern bank of the River Buriganga near the centre of the city. The name means a large building with an enclosed quadrangle; the word 'katra' is probably derived from the Arabic for cupola, but similar words in Persian (meaning tent or pavilion) and Sanskrit (meaning umbrella) also exist. In front of it lay a large cannon, half-buried in the sand which became submerged by water during the monsoon. In the 19th century James Atkinson described the building, with its high, octagonal turrets as 'a stupendous pile of grand and beautiful architecture.'