April 28, 2014 was  a sad day for the heritage lovers of Guwahati as one the first double-storied houses of the city- the Rasul Lodge was engulfed by fire. It has since stood in its place at Lakhtakia albeit in its skeletal frame. This two-storey tin-roofed house made of Burmese teak, bricks and iron beams belonged to Late Ikram Rasul, former Excise Superintendent of Nagaon and Sylhet. Rasul was the first cousin of former President of India, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed. Infact, it was from the Rasul Lodge that the latter's journey to the Rastrapati Bhawan began. Ali Ahmed stayed on the first floor of the house when he became a minister.


Ikram Rasul awarded the contract of building his house to a famous contractor hailing from the North Western Frontier Provinces, Md. Ida Khan who also built some other prominent buildings in the town. Iron beams and rods were ordered from the Tata Iron and Steel Company. These, along with machine-made Burma teak floors, windows and doors for the house were shipped from Calcutta. The furnitures made of Burmese teak were procured from M/S Hall and Anderson and the Whiteway and chandeliers were imported from Belgium. The house was completed in 1909-10 and soon became the talk of the town. As inferred from Late Dipankar Banerjee's work, electricity came to the house in 1927, the very year it was introduced in the town.


Trial runs of the first bioscope (cinema) was held in the first floor drawing room of Rasul Lodge with the help of a generator, another first in the still fledgling town. Ikram Rasul's brother Rafiqur Islam (popularly known as Maina Mouzadar) ran the Kamrup Cinema Company, a makeshift hall which screened the first silent motion picture in Guwahati. A 'first class' chair used by the K.C.C. was preserved by the family for many years until the fire broke out.

Rasul Lodge was one of the nerve centres of the freedom struggle in Assam and the family was closely associated with the Indian National Congress. It had many prominent personalities as guests. According to Imtiaz Rasul, one of the sons of Late Ikram Rasul, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru stayed at the house for three days in 1942. He fondly recollects the cheese-straws from M/s Shaikh Brothers that was served to Nehru for breakfast and how Nehru smoked “Marco Polo” brand cigarettes. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Rajendra Prasad, V.V. Giri, Aruna Asaf Ali (she hid in the house for several days during the Quit India Movement) and Khan Bahadur Mustaq Ahmed Girmani, former governor of NW Frontier Province were its other visitors.


We express our sincere gratitude to respected Imtiaz Rasul sir and Javed Iqbal Rasul for sharing with us some rare photographs and anecdotes related to this century old building.

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