Explore the deeper culture and cuisines of Dhaka
Dhaka is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Maybe the density of friendliness, the unique culture of hospitality, and the colourful lifestyle are our strengths! Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital, is a sprawling and bustling metropolis once known for Maslin and mosques. Dhaka has an exciting history, rich cultural heritage, and vibrant architecture to attract people from around the world.
Founded in 1608, Dhaka alternately enjoyed the glory of being the capital of the region when it was successively under the Mughal and British rule. Intersected by the river Burigonga, Dhaka became the capital of Bangladesh as it emerged as an independent and sovereign state in 1971. Dhaka has a warm blend of Mughal, Victorian and modern architecture as well as a number of historic relics. Dhaka’s skyline has been changing very fast by the recent spurt of high rise buildings. The city is still famous for its exotic culinary and cuisine.
Several Museums of Dhaka has also been representing the past history and glory of Bangladesh. A visit to the museum of Independence, National museum or the Liberation War museum will increase the understanding of the culture and history of this country.
Parliament or the National Assembly Building, designed by a world renowned American architect, Louis Kahn, this building is arguably the most notable modern modern monumental building in Bangladesh and is regarded as the best work of Louis Kahn by many. A visit inside of this building is a special treat for general tourists as well as for architects around the world.
Mainamati, one of the Buddhist ruins of Bangladesh can be a worthwhile experience. Also visiting Sonargaon, the old capital of Bengal is a great treat.
For tourists who are interested in local artisanship, an excursion to the pottery village to see these local artisans of Bengal and also seeing the people working with brass metal- creating their beautiful artwork will surely uplift the spirit.
While in Bangladesh, a river cruise is a must to see the river side life.
The sights and sounds of the chaotic city with over 16 million inhabitants can be quite overwhelming. But has much to offer!
Attractions in and around Dhaka;
Sadarghat (River front): “If all the rivers of Bangladesh were the road, then Sadarghat would be the main bus terminal”, this port is very well connected to the all parts of the country through the river. About 200 large and small passenger launches (motorized boats) & 40,000 people depart and arrive at the terminal every day. At this place the scene of hundreds of taxi boats laden with passengers and merchandise crossing the river is fascinating. A panoramic view of the busiest river from the roof of a waiting ship would make your day.
Lalbagh Fort: Foundation was started in 1678A.D by Prince Mohammad Azam, son of Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb who was the then Viceroy of undivided Bengal. As per early illustrations Burigonga River flowed right in front of the southern gate. Three main buildings are the main attractions of this fort today, tomb of Bibi Pori in the centre, a small mosque on the western side, governor’s former residence to the left which also contain an audience hall. This fort has converted into a small museum containing some Mughal-era artifacts.
Ahsan Manzil (Pink Pallace): Located on the north bank of Buriganga river in Dhaka an example of the nation’s rich cultural heritage and holding a small collection of one of Dhaka’s oldest aristocrat family. The palace first served as a government trading centre. Lord Curzon, the former British Viceroy of India, used to stay here when visited Dhaka. Afterward it was sold to the Nawab family of Dhaka mid-19th century and was converted into a private residence. Today’s restored Ahsan Manzil is a monument of immense historical beauty and very famous to the locals for hangout. It is now converted into a museum and has 23 galleries in 31 rooms displaying portraits, furniture and household articles and utensils used by the Nawab families.
Star Mosque: The most endearing feature of this 19th century mosjid is its mosaic dictation. Inside and outside of this mosque is decorated with mosaic. Small chips of Chinaware-plate, cup etc and pieces of colorful glass have been used for mosaic. Beautiful flower-vases, flower branches, rosset, crescent, star, and Arabic calligraphic writing have been used in the decoration of the mosque. All over the mosque the motif of stars dominates the decoration and the lady who has donated the land for the mosque, was called Sitara-Banu, which means ‘Star’ in English and Tara in Bengali, so the mosque is called the Star Mosque (Tara Masjid).
Armenian Church: The Armenian Church of the Holy Resurrection, located on church road in Armanitola, is named after the Armenian Colony which settled here in the early 18th century. It was built in 1781 by Bishop Ephraim, on the ruins of an earlier chapel and later in 1837. Now a days the church is a rare oasis of peace and tranquility inside Old Dhaka, and masses are held during Easter and Christmas. There is a chapel with a broad balcony upstairs, and a cemetery housing the graves if several Armenians who died here.
Dhakeshwari Hindu Temple: The national and most prominent Hindu temple at Dhaka from which a popular legend ascribes the origin of the city. The 11th century temple is also known as the oldest Hindu temple in the city. Situated at the point where the most ancient fortifications meet with the new and vibrant city of Dhaka. The temple is regularly used for various events, including day-long prayers which are common practice in Bangladesh on national holidays and birth & death anniversaries and wedding ceremony.
Curzon Hall: One of the best examples of Dhaka’s bricks architecture & a happy blend of European and Mughal elements, particularly noticeable in the projecting facade in the north which has both horse-shoe and cusped arches. It is now the science department of the University of Dhaka was meant to be a town hall and was named after Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India, who laid its foundation in 1904.
National Art Gallery: Situated in the Shilpakala Academy premises, represents collection of folk art and paintings by Bangladeshi artists.
Rickshaw Painting: Dhaka is also a city of rickshaw, human paddled with bamboo, wooden crafts on a metal frame, usually looks very colourful with the famous painting all around. It looks very beautiful for painting and colorful paper rapped around the body and the painting is very creative task for a rickshaw maker. It is always the reflection of painters dream on back of tin sheet and frame of the body. The painting subject could be natural scenery, film poster, animals or religious. The artist’s choice and test may differ due to the regional cultural influences on the painter’s mind. Rickshaw painting industry is in alarming situation due to the Modern technology and developments. It is worth to have a piece of rickshaw painting as a souvenir while visiting Bangladesh. There are only two painters alive and living in Dhaka city, unfortunately they both are in critical health situation at present. We can help you to get one before they are all finished.
National Memorial: Located at Savar, about 35 km north-west of the capital city, was built to commemorate the millions killed in the struggle for the country’s independence in 1971. The monument is composed of seven isosceles triangular pyramid shaped structures, represents the seven different conflicts happened during the Pakistan period, between 1952 to 1971. This amazing architecture that seems to change its configuration from different angles. Jahangirnagar University and its sprawling campus is also located nearby, which is a paradise bird watcher over the winter, some magnificent architectures of famous Bangladeshi architect Muzharul Islam, still standing on the University campus.
Sonargaon: The first capital of east Bengal, about 29 km southeastern direction from Dhaka. The historic Sonargaon meaning “Golden Town”. From 13th to 17th century it was the capital of the Muslim rulers of East Bengal where a mint was also set up. The Panam City was the center of the upper-middleclass Hindu Merchants of Sonargaon. It was an important centre for the manufacture of the finest muslin, cotton cloth and different types fo jute products in India. That reigning king was Isa Khan Masnad-i- Ala who, along with his daring son Musa Khan, were among the most powerful Bara-Bhuiyans of Bengal. In 1608, with the establishment of Dhaka as the provincial Mughal capital of Bengal, its fame for excellent cotton fabric continued undiminished until foreign competition ruined its trade. Golden city of the past, for few decades Sonargaon was like a ghost town in which the atmosphere of the Hindu zamindars (Landlords) lingers among the old mosques, rajbari and architecture that survived the decline. Still you will find much to see here, well maintained Folk Art Museum and Panam Nagar worth visiting.
Other please to check out In&And around Dhaka:
Old high Court Building, Boro Katra, Choto Katra, Sat Masjid (Seven Dome Mosque), Khan Md Mridha Mosque, Suhrawardy Uddyan, Shahid Minar (Martyr’s Monument), Liberation War Museum, National Museum, Dhamarajikha Buddhist Monastery, Intellectual Martyr’s Monument, Bagabandhu Seikh Mujib Museum, Bhasani Navotheater, National Botanical Gardens, Dhaka Zoo.
Shopping / Place to buy a souvenir, handicrafts: Bangladesh is indeed shopper’s paradise with a rich tradition in handicrafts at throw away prices. While muslin of Dhaka has gone into history, other products as cotton, silk, jute, wood, contemporary paintings, gold, silver, brassware, leather goods, traditional dolls, and readymade garments also received deep appreciation from around the world over the past centuries. In addition, Bangladesh are famous for pink pearl. Most of the shopping center around the diplomatic zone (Gulshan, Banani and Baridhara) are fixed price shop having verity of women and men’s traditional and western wear. If you want to try the rest of the malls, good luck with your bargaining capability. New Market, the oldest shopping complex located at chaotic and south-western part of the city, mostly to cater the needs of the population of Dhaka City but it is now attracting shoppers even from outskirts. . One of the unique features of Dhaka New Market is shopping at open air and in a spacious atmosphere. Any of the three high arched gate will lead you to organized rows of shops for books & stationery, watches, clocks & spectacles, leather goods & travel kits, grocery shops, clothes, jewellery, electrical equipment/ tools, there are few service shops of tailoring, fast food, photography, camera reaper shop etc. Recommended for a short visit to tourists, you could not stop looking around.
Aarong: Arguably Bangladesh’s most famous brand; Aarong belong to the world largest NGO call BRAC, which was founded by a Bangladeshi, features clothing and home décor items among its constantly evolving inventory. Aarong has its journey in 1978 and quickly grew into one of the country’s most beloved and renowned brands. A fair trade ethos is embraced and all profits are channelled back into NGO’s support programs. There are many outlets in different areas of Dhaka as well as some other prominent cities, it’s easy to take home a piece of authentic Bangladesh folk craft!
Traditional patterns and materials are mated with a modern sensibility to create products that are attractive, vibrant and timeless. Choose from clothes, bags, shoes, toys, rugs and much more. A limited collection of nakshi kantha items including women’s wear and wall hangings are available. Nakshi kantha is a traditional and free hand embroidered quilt made of discarded clothing, but Aarong’s versions are stitched with new material, Designs are very much based on vintage motifs. Jatra & Arannya @ Kamal Ataturk Avenue, Road 11 in Banani both side full of local boutique shops are also recommended to check out.
Good to Know
Population at the capital city
National calling code
Government Type: Mayor – Councilor
Body: DNCC and DSCC
North City Mayor: Atiqul Islam
South City Mayor: Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh
Greenery and Parks
Due to the over population and much traffic congestions, one may doubt about the greenery existence in Dhaka. There are actually some parks within Dhaka city and government contineous afford for the greeneries by the streets and around the unused spaces, the parks in the city are Ramna Park, Suhrawardy Udyan, Shishu Park, Baldha Garden, Gulshan Park, Chandrima Uddan, National Botanical Garden and Dhaka Zoo. There are some lakes within the city, such as Dhanmondi Lake, Crescent Lake, Baridhara–Gulshan Lake, Banani Lake, Uttara lake and Hatirjheel-Begunbari Lake. [information source: Wikipedia]
Old Dhaka has its own unique food and hospitality culture, locally called as Dhakaiya food. Among the many, Old Dhaka is also very famous for its Morog (Chicken) Pulao, which is different from traditional Morog biryani by using both turmeric and malai or cream of milk together.
Traditional snack “Dhakai Bagorkhani” is famous for its particular way of making which ensure a special quality and taste. The Royal Court of the Mughal Empire in DelhiIt had praised the taste of Dhakai Bagorkhani. South Asian variants, a large variety of Western and Chinese cuisines are served at numerous restaurants and eateries besides Bangladeshi cuisine.
Mote then 2000 buildings were built in Dhaka between the 16th and 19th centuries, which has formed an integral part of Dhaka’s cultural heritage. Some of them are Armenian Church, Lalbagh Fort, Binat Bibi Mosque, Ahsan Manzil, Chawk Bazar Mosque, Tara Mosque, Hussaini Dalan, Choto Katra, Bara Katra, Dhaka Gate, Curzon Hall, Dhanmondi Shahi Eidgah, Rose Garden Palace, Dhakeshwari Temple, Swami Bagh Temple, Ramna Kali Mandir, Holy Rosary Church, Pogose School. Still many colonial buildings are holding their prides at Sadarghat, Armanitola, Farashganj areas of Old Dhaka. Important landmarks British rule include Old High court building, Bangabhaban, Curzon Hall and Mitford Hospital.
Based on the geography and heritage of Bengal, American architect Louis I Kahn acclaimed modernist National Capital Complex, inaugurated in 1982 as one of the largest legislative complexes in the world. Kamalapur railway station is another architectural marvel of Dhaka, designed by architect Robert Boughey. Monument of Independence is a new landmark, was built to commemorate the historical events that took place in the Suhrawardy Udyan during the Liberation War of Bangladesh.
Again, Dhaka is the center and has the highest number of schools, colleges and universities. The five years (Grades 1st to 5th) of Primary education concludes with a Primary School Completion (PSC) Examination, the three years of Junior (grades 6th to 8th) education concludes with Junior School Certificate (JSC) Examination, and next two years of Secondary (grades 9th and 10th) education concludes with a Secondary School Certificate (SSC) Examination. All the students who pass this examination proceed to another 2 years of Higher Secondary (grades 11th and 12th) or intermediate training, which culminate in a Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC) Examination. Education system is mainly based on Bengali, but English is also widely taught and used. Many Muslim students (Male and female) would attend part-time or full-time religious education alongside other subjects, which is conducted in Bengali and Arabic in schools, colleges and madrasas.
There are about 55 universities in Dhaka. Dhaka College is the oldest institution for higher education in the city founded in 1841. University of Dhaka (DU) is the oldest public university in the country, established in 1921, which has around 40,000 students, 1800 faculty staff. DU has 23 research centers and 70 departments, faculties and institutes. Eminent seats of higher education include Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), Jagannath University and Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University. Dhaka Medical College (DMCH) Founded in 1875 and Sir Salimullah Medical College in 1962, are two of the best medical colleges in the country. Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Armed Forces Medical College are also government medical academy in Dhaka.
there are about forty-five private universities in Bangladesh alongside public institutes, most of them are located in Mohakhali, Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara, Bashundhara, Uttara, Dhanmondi and Mohamedpur areas of the city.
The British Council plays an important role helping students to achieve GCSE and A Level qualifications from examination boards in the United Kingdom for higher education in abroad.
Transportation from and to Dhaka
Dhaka has a very good connection to the other parts of the country through highway and railway links. Five (N1, N2, N3, N5 and N8) of the eight major national highways of the country starts from Dhaka. This City is also directly connected to three longest routes of Asian Highway Network– AH1, AH2 and AH41 route. Dhaka also has highway links to the Indian cities of Kolkata, Agartala, Guwahati and Shillong. At present an elevated expressway system is under construction, which would run from Shahjalal International Airport-Kuril-Banani-Mohakhali-Tejgaon-Shaatrasta – Moghbazar Rail Crossing-Khilgaon – Kamalapur – Golapbagh to Dhaka-Chittagong Highway at Kutubkhali Point. Second elevated expressway from Airport-Ashulia is currently undergoing feasibility study. There are 3 inter-district bus terminals in Dhaka, located at Mohakhali, Saidabad and Gabtoli.
Hopping that the arrival of MRT and a BRT would bring a good solution traffic congestion of this city. Cycle rickshaws and auto rickshaws are the major mode of transport within metro area besides the public buses and other transports, about 5/6 hundred thousand rickshaw runs each day out of 7/8 hundred thousand rickshaws. Rickshaw transportation is relatively low-cost and environment friendly. The authority has overseen the replacement of two-stroke engine auto rickshaws with “Green auto-rickshaws” locally called CNG, runs on local compressed natural gas.
The Public buses are operated by state owned Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) and by good numbers of private companies. Ride-sharing services like Uber, Pathao, Scooters, and privately owned cars are popular mode of transportation beside. Limited numbers of Taxis are also to be seen, subsequently It will be uplifted to 18,000 soon.
Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (IATA: DAC, ICAO: VGHS), is the largest and busiest international airport in the country, located 15 kilometers north of Dhaka city center. The airport has a capacity of handling 15 million passengers annually within 1,981 acres (802 ha) of land area. Predicted by the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh to be enough until 2026. This airport has handled 6.1 million passengers, and 248,000 tons of cargo in 2014. An average air traffic movement per day is around 190 flights. It is the hub of all Bangladeshi airlines and domestic service flies to Chittagong, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Cox’s Bazar, Jessore, Barisal, Saidpur. International services fly to major cities in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
Kamalapur railway station is the central, largest and busiest among all railway stations in the city. Designed by an American architect Robert Boughey, it is situated in the north-eastern side of Motijheel, founded in the early 1960s and came into operation from 1969. State-owned Bangladesh Railway (BR) provides suburban and national services, and Dhaka – Kolkata international rail travel services by Maitree Express for the nations of both countries. Dhaka is very well connected with major cities – Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna, Sylhet and Rangpur by Regular express train services. Southern parts of Bangladesh soon to be under the Railway network, once the Ganges River Bridge construction is done.
In 2013, suburban services to Narayanganj and Gazipur cities were upgraded using diesel electric multiple unit trains. The Dhaka Metro Rail/ MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) feasibility study has been completed. A 20.1 kilometers (12.5 mi), $1.7 Billion Phase 1. Italian-Thai Development Public Company Ltd. and Sinohydro Corporation Ltd. has been doing all the civil works. Depot’s land is developing by JV and a Tokyo-based construction company.
First route of MRT will start from Uttara, northern suburb of Dhaka to Sayedabad, southern section of Dhaka. The route consists of 16 elevated stations each of 180m long. Construction has begun on 26 June 2016.
Sadarghat River Port is the main river station in the city, located at the very southern part of Dhaka city, standing on the banks of Buriganga River serves for the transport of goods and passengers upriver and to other ports of the country. Inter-city and inter-district motor vessels and passenger-ferry services are used by many people to travel riverine regions of Bangladesh from the Dhaka. There are some passenger’s water bus services available on Buriganga River on Sadarghat to Gabtoli route back and forth. Hatirjheel and Gulshan Lakes has recently launched some passengers’ taxis services and provide connectivity between Tejgaon – Gulshan and Tejgaon and Rampura areas.
Our trips around this area:
Half-Day Tour of Old Dhaka
Trip to Sonargaon – the first capital
Sonargaon and Old Dhaka Trip
Explore the Highlights of Dhaka City
Meet the Pottery and Brass Artisans
Trip to National Assembly Building
Daylong Walking Tour of Old Dhaka
Village Homestay Trip
Dhaka and around in a local way – 5 days