Guwahati Gyan: The Rasul Lodge, Home of India’s 5th President
Rasul Lodge was one of the first double-storey houses of Guwahati, built-in 1911. The property is located in the heart of Lakhtokia on Danish road.
The house was built by Ikram Rasul, former Excise Superintendent of Nagaon and Sylhet, now Bangladesh. Rasul was the first cousin of the former President of India, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and nephew of the first Assamese M.D., Late Zalnur Ali Ahmed.
It was from the Rasul Lodge that Fakhruddin began his journey to the Rastrapati Bhawan; hence, the popular adage - 'from Lakhtokia to Raisina Hill'.
He came to Guwahati from Delhi at the age of 23 and went on to stay in Assam for the next four decades. He stayed on the first floor of the house when he became the finance minister of Assam. In 1974, he became the fifth President of India.
The contract of building the house was given to Md. Ida Khan, a famous contractor hailing from the North Western Frontier Province. This two-storey tin-roofed house is made of Burmese teak, bricks and iron beams.
Iron beams and rods were ordered from the Tata Iron & Steel Company. These, along with machine-made Burma teak floors, windows and doors for the house were shipped from Calcutta. The furniture 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 1991 and soon became the talk of the town.
In 1927, with electricity introduced to the town, Rasul Lodge also was electrified.
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 ran the Kamrup Cinema Company, a makeshift hall which screened the first silent motion picture in Guwahati. He was the second person to own two buses in Gauhati, named Beauty and Nasirun. A 'first class' chair used by the KCC was preserved by the family for many years.
The house became a shelter for many Muslim students from upper Assam who came to pursue their higher studies in Cotton College.
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. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru stayed at Rasul Lodge during his three-day visit to Guwahati in 1942. Recalling interesting anecdotes, Javed Iqbal Rasul, grandson of Ikram Rasul said that his family fondly recalled Nehru relishing on the cheese-straws from M/S Shaikh Brothers that were served for breakfast.
The Lodge also hosted other Congress stalwarts like Moulana Abul Kalam, Rajendra Prasad and VV Giri, and even Khan Bahadur Mustaq Ahmed Gurmani who later became governor in Pakistan. Aruna Asaf Ali hid in the house for several days during the Quit India Movement.
On the fateful night of 27th April, 2014 the beautiful ancestral property was destroyed by an inferno. Its skeletal frame has since stood in its place at Lakhtokia.
Credits: Avinibesh Sharma, Javed Iqbal Rasul
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