DHAKA, the Capital of Bangladesh, founded in 1608 has an exciting history and rich cultural heritage. Built on the bank of the river Buriganga, and it is now a sprawling modern city. The total area of the city is approximately 1550 sq. km., with a population of 13 million. It was adorned with the glory of being the capital of the region when it was successively under the Mughal and the British rule.
It used to be known as the city of mosques and is called the city of rickshaws. These days it looks chaotic with more vehicles on the roads and streets and building coming up, but the “chaos” is not a decadent one, it is rather solely positive. Paintings on buses and rickshaws are of people’s dream, and the city is really bustling.
It is situated on the bank of the river Buriganga. For a visitor, there awaits an amazing scene with different types of boats – uncovered and covered boats, cargo boats, speed boats, tugs and motor launches going in every direction. Regular services by motor launches including passenger and cargo to Southern towns leave every day in the afternoon. Paddle Steamer service introduced during the colonial period is still in service to most of the towns on its route up to Khulna, is also operated from this river port. Paddle system steamer service for passenger service is obsolete now-a-days in other countries. A trip by Paddle Steamer will enable a guest to enjoy the riverine beauty including the countryside of Bangladesh.
Lalbagh FortLalbagh Fort
Prince Mohammed Azam, 3rd son of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, started building the Fort Aurangabad in 1678. As he left Dhaka, he handed it over to Nawab Shaista Khan, the next governor, for completion. He continued the work, but due to premature death of his beloved daughter Bibi Pari, all building activities were suspended, considering it as inauspicious to continue the work.
Outstanding among the monuments of the Lalbagh fort are a small three-domed elegant mosque, the mausoleum of Bibi Pari, and the Audience Hall and Hammam complex is now housing a museum. When the fort was built, the river Buriganga used to flow very close to the Lalbagh Fort to the South.
Open from Sunday to Thursday from 10:00am to 5:00pm, Friday from 2:30pm to 5:30pm, during the winter (closed on Saturday & other national holidays). From April to October, opening and closing times are half an hour later.
Star MosqueStar Mosque
Zaminder Mirza Ghulam Pir built this mosque in the early 18th century. Later a local businessman , Ali Jan Bepary renovated this mosque , a glittering star pattern mosaic with Japanese and English china clay tiles during 1926. This is the most beautifully decorated mosque in Bangladesh. It is distinctive for its low-slung style and the absence of minaret.Originally it was built with four corner towers in Mughal style. During the renovation and redecoration, the building was substantially altered. A close look will reveal that the tiles illustrated with pictures of Mt. Fuji.
hsan MonzilAhsan Manjil
Khwaja Alimullah bought some properties including this building from the French traders in 1835, which was originally owned by Zaminder Seikh Enayetullah. Nawab Abdul Ghani named Ahsan Manzil after his son Nawab Ahsanullah. It is a magnificent pink-colored building with an imposing staircase leading to the upper floor, and it is topped by a lofty dome. In each of the 23 grand rooms there is a photograph of the room dating back from around 1902, and these photos allowed the accurate restoration of the furnishings and draperies. Ancestors of the Khwaja Alimullah came from Kashmir in search of fortune.
The Nawabs played a significant role during their regime around 100 year, uplifting the life style of the people as they were the pioneer to provide the following services : Electricity, Health care system, Sanitation, School and colleges, Parks, River-reforms, Banking, etc. It has been turned to a museum which will give a good insight into the life of the ruling classes of Bengal during the British Raj. It can be visited Saturday-Wednesday from 10:30am to 5:30pm and Friday from 4:00pm to 7:00pm. closed on Thursdays.
Armenians came to Dhaka in the 17th century and they were concentrated in the old part of the city, which was later named Armanitola after the colony of Armenian families. This church was built in 1781 on the ruins of an earlier chapel. It has a balcony and wooden pews seat for 100 people. In 1837 a steeple serving as a clock tower was added, which collapsed during the earthquake of 1897. The church is in a reasonably good shape. It is open everyday, except when the caretaker leaves the premises.
It is the oldest Hindu temple in Dhaka and was established in the 11th century. By some accounts it is said that Dhaka city originates its name from the Dhakeswari temple. The temple is visited every day by number of devotees to make offering to the goddess. It can be visited any day.
It is a crispy bread very popular with the people of old part of Dhaka city. It is said that the name Bakharkhani is after name of Mr. Bakhar, who first introduced it. Mr. Aga Bakhar or Aga Bakhir khan was a zaminder in the Bakherganj ( also named after him) and it is said that he introduced this special bread probably during the mid-1800.
Now-a-days, this bread is also popular with the people of other districts as a snack.
In the early 17th century, ancestors of the present dwellers started coming to this locality.They were mostly the follower of Bishnu or Krishna. These people were very expert for making “SHAKA” (Bangla from Conch Shell) and the artisans were known as SHAKHARI.The technique used by them was very traditional and unique and is now replaced by modern technique.
To the Hindus, conch shells are symbol of good fortune and purity. As per the Hindu religion,married woman are to wear conch shell bangles on both wrists and to break them when the husband dies. The craft faces an uncertain future. Shells used to come from India and Sri Lanka are not always available and more and more Hindu women are unable to afford these bangles,opting to buy the much cheaper plastic lookalikes.
The New Market was established during 1950′s as the oldest complete shopping complex housing Jeweler, Book shop, Ready made garments, household items, fresh fish, meat and vegetables including fruits. The fresh fish, meat and vegetable section is very popular to the affluent society as one of the best sources. Customers visiting the New Market have declined on the advent of modern markets and shopping complexes in other parts of the city.
Dhaka University started in 1921 with three faculties, twelve departments, sixty teachers, eight hundred and seventy seven students. Initially there were three residential halls of the university.It grew over the years against lot of hindrances and gained a very prestigious position in the Indian sub-continent within few years.
History of Bangladesh is very closely related to the history of the Dhaka University. Since, 1952-1990, all the mass movements originated from and lead by the students of Dhaka University.
Dhaka University has now 7 Faculties, 46 departments with total number of approximately 30,000 students and 1200 teachers. And there are 18 residential halls.
Dhaka Museum established in 1913, was renamed as the National Museum and shifted to its new building at Shahbag in 1983.
It has forty galleries under four departments, namely,
(1) Natural history
(2) History & Classical Art
(3) Ethnography and Decorative art
(4) Contemporary art and world civilization.
The museum contains a large number of interesting collections of Bangladesh’s Hindu, Buddhist and Mughal past. Remarkable among the exhibits are: a mat made from ｉｖｏｒｙ, beautiful and fine embroideries
(Nakshikantha), piece of muslin clothes, a huge number of black stone images, coins of 2nd & 3rd century B.C and ” Liberation gallery “.
Open Saturday-Wednesday from 10:00am to 4:30pm, Friday from 3:00pm to 7:00pm
Closed on Thursdays.
National Parliament House is situated at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar. During the Pakistan regime,considering Dhaka as the second capital, it was approved in 1963 to establish a parliament house. Accordingly it was designed by world famous American architect Mr. Louis I. Kahn and the construction started in 1965 but could not be completed due to liberation movement and the ensuing war of liberation. Later, the remaining construction was completed by the government of Bangladesh. This distinctive architecture is one of the few renowned architectures in the world.
During 1870′s, the first hand-pulled rickshaws were introduced in Japan. By 1890 Japan registered a peak number of 200,000. Japan was also the leading manufacturers and exporter of rickshaws. After 1900, rickshaw numbers started to decline in Japan, though they did not disappear there until after the Second World War. But in other Asian countries they continued to increase until 1920′s, which was to be their golden age.
Singapore was the first city to use Cycle-rickshaw on a large scale during 1929. Kolkata’s First cycle-rickshaws appeared around 1930′s and they soon spread to other towns. They reached Bangladesh in mid-1930′s and Dhaka by 1938. In 40-50 years, cycle rickshaws reached all the districts and towns including villages in Bangladesh. Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh attracted the people from the rural areas for work and they started pulling cycle-rickshaw as an easy means for their living.
Number of rickshaws increased like anything in Dhaka as there was no proper control over it by the Government, ultimately making Dhaka a city of Rickshaws. But presently, the Government has imposed a lot of restriction on rickshaws using the roads/streets and trying to restrict rickshaws to lanes and by lanes only.
An isolated eleven mile-long spur of dimpled hills known as the Mainamati-Lalmai range, 8 km west of Comilla and 114 km south east of Dhaka. It was named after the Chandra dynasty King Govinda Chandra’s mother. Exploration on this range has revealed over 50 ancient sites dotting the hills, mostly containing various types of Buddhist remains of the 8th to 12th centuries AD.Excavations revealed interesting and informative finds at a number of sites, locally known as Salban vihara, Itakhula Mura, Rupban Mura, Kutila Mura, Ananda Rajar Badi, Charpatra Mura and Mainamati Ranir Badi. Amongst the sites, visitors take interest mostly on Salban vihara, Itakhula Mura, and Rupban Mura.
A site museum just beyond Salban Vihara houses is open from 10:00am to 5:00pm daily from Sunday-Thursday and Friday from 2:30pm to 5:30pm and during October to March, 10:30am to 5:30pm from Sunday to Thursday and Friday from 3:00pm to 6:00pm during April to September.It is closed on Saturdays.
Pottery & Metal Works
Adjacent to Savar lies, two traditional Craftsman village, Dhamrai and Kakran. Dhamrai was famous for metalworks with brass and people of Kakran used to be potters. But the introduction of durable and in some cases low cost substitutes for such metal and pot utensils have monopolised the whole market, pushing away the artisans to change their profession. Only a handful of families are still trying to stick to their old profession and mainly depending on the overseas orders.
About 35km from Dhaka is the National Martyr’s Monument at Savar, built in memory of the millions who died in the liberation war during 1971. This 50M high and beautifully maintained structure was designed by the famous architect Mr. Moinul Hossain.
Sonargaon (means golden city), 27 km. east of Dhaka city, was the capital of Bengal from 13th to early 17th century during the Chandra and Deva dynasty. The Panam was a flourished city in those days. In 1611 the Mughals considered the location too exposed to the Portuguese and the Mogh pirates and established Dhaka as their capital. It was a very flourished centre both for weaving of the muslin and export to different parts of the world. But nothing of muslin can be found now. Folklore Museum at Sonargaon is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm everyday except Wednesday from 10:00am to 2:00pm and closed on Thursdays.
Ruposhi village on the bank of the river Sitalakhya is popularly known as Jamdani village, for,you will find most of the houses are engaged in weaving of Jamdani Saree and Scarf. The weaving of Jamdani is a handloom industry, and it is done in the similar style of weaving muslin.It is known as the legacy of muslin as it requires fine yarn for weaving and various beautiful designs by colored yarn. These expert weavers can create the design mentally during the weaving of the Saris. There is no mechanical technique involved.