Now that you are in Dhaka, the thriving capital of Bangladesh,
you must be raring to go out and see the sights. If you haven't you might
want to read up on the history of Dhaka, before coming back here
to start the tour.
The best place to begin would be the Lalbagh Fort, at
the edge of Old Dhaka (see a scene of old Dhaka). This fort overlooking the Burigonga River is an
imposing yet incomplete Moghul fort. Begun in 1678 by Prince Azam, the
third son of the last great Moghul Emperor Aurangazeb, the construction
was taken up by his son Nawab Shaista Khan. Legend has it that, the death
of his favorite daughter, locally known as Bibi Pari, caused a total suspension
of the construction. The fort consists of long fortified walls with octagonal
bastions. Within the walls there is a mosque and the Mausoleum
of Bibi Pari, and the Audience Hall. There is an on-site museum
that will enthrall the visitors.
Now that you are in
the locality, you must visit the old city. Walk along the Waterworks
Road until you reach the hub of the old city - Chowk Bazaar.
You will be walking through a maze of tightly twisting roads, and you
will be living and breathing 19th century Dhaka. The roads are narrow,
and lined with tall precariously poised old buildings, the ground floors
of which house shops, both wholesale and retail, selling everything that
one can imagine. The streets are seething with pedestrians, innumerable
rickshaws, pushcarts and even on occasions, a hackney cart. You may have
the equal misfortune of almost being run over by a bullock cart or a late
model Mercedes Benz.
At Chowk Bazaar, you will get to see the remains of the Bara Katra,
a 1644 edifice built by Mir Abul Qasem. Little survives of this place,
but it was originally built and conceived on the traditional caravansary
model embellished with Moghul features. Close to it is the Chhota Katra,
built in 1663 by Shaista Khan.
Further south, you can get to see the newly refurbished Ahsan
Manzil, or the Nawab's place as it is often called. This was built
in 1872 close to Wise Ghat, and was named after Nawab Ahsanullah
Bahadur. Partially destroyed by a tornado in 1888, the building was abandoned
and housed homeless people for many years until recently refurbished.
Another interesting sight to visit in the
old Dhaka, is the Armenian Church, in Armanitola, built
in 1791 by the Armenian colony on Holy Church Road. The Baldah Gardens is another must see, in Wari. This is a botanical garden built under the
patronage of the Maharajah of Baldah, and amongst other fine specimens,
houses one of the few examples of the Amazon Lily in this part of the
Along Islampur Road, you will find the Tara Masjid,
the Star Mosque. This is one of the striking mosques in a city which is
often called the city of mosques. The name derives from a glittering mosaic
of broken china. Originally built in the 18th century, the mosaic was
a later addition by a zealous and pious businessman. While we are on the topic of Mosques, let us not forget a Mughal mosque built in the
provincial Moghul style in the 17th century by Shaista Khan. The Shaat
Gombuj - Seven Domed - mosque can be found in the northwestern corner
of the city, in Jafarabad. The mosque stands on high bank overlooking
the Burigonga. It has three domes over the prayer hall, and four corner
domes over octagonal towers.
Let us now move towards the somewhat newer parts of the
city, to buildings and sights from the British Raj era. Curzon Hall in Ramna is a happy blend of European and Moghul architecture.
These homogeneous looking buildings were built around 1905, after the
partition of Bengal. They have a Victorian edifice with Mughal trimmings
of cusped arches and kiosk-like turrets. This was originally built to
be the town hall by Lord Curzon, the then Governor General of British
India, but has now been taken over by the Dhaka
University and is part of the Faculty of Sciences. Almost opposite
is the Old High Court building; also built in 1905 in the prevalent
neoclassical European way, it was originally conceived as the Governor's
Let us wend our way to Dhaka's downtown, fast resembling metropolises
anywhere with high rise buildings vying for supremacy in the commercial
area of Motijheel. Right in the heart of this busy area is the National Stadium, officially seating 60,000, unofficially over
a hundred thousand. Right next door is the Baitul Muqarram National
Mosque built in a stylistic rendition of the Holy Kaabah in Mecca.
The Kamlapur Railway Station is another must see, with its "gothic"
Recently a new National Museum has opened up in Shahbag,
and has a rich collection from Bangladesh's history. Close by is the Shahid
Minar, the Martyrs Memorial, commemorating the deaths of 4 people
in February 21, 1952 at the hands of police protesting against Urdu as
the sole national language of Pakistan. The series of protests, called
the Bhasha Andolon - language movement, initially calling for Bangla to be one of the national languages, gave
rise to a nascent Bengali nationalism which eventually reached fruition
of independent Bangladesh, after a 9 month long Independence
War in 1971. The Shahid Minar is a stylistic representation of a mother
and her children, representing Bangla the mother and Bengalis, her children.
Another striking set of buildings in Dhaka are the Jatiyo Shongshod - National Parliament - complex at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, A colossal
complex of geometrical proportion, it was conceived by the famous American
No trip to the city is complete without visiting the various monuments
and mausoleums dotting the city. You have already seen the Shahid Minar,
and further north of the city at Savar is the National Monument,
commemorating the victory over the Pakistan Army, the Tin Netar Mazaar,
the mausoleum of three leaders, the Shahid Buddhijibi Smriti Shousdho - the martyred intellectuals memorial, and the Mausoleum of deceased
president Ziaur Rahman.