Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh, and is one of the most important cities of the ancient Indian subcontinent. But now the Dhaka is considered as one of the most populace, risky, polluted and worst city of the world. So tourist may be feared to visit Dhaka city now. But there are some eye-catching and historical places which have a great historic and cultural value could fascinate the tourist from home and abroad.
Now I will invite you to take a tour to the heart of Dhaka that is known as Old Dhaka where you will be mesmerized to see the architectural depiction from Mughal dynasty to English regime.
If anyone is fascinated to see the great signature of art by Mughal Empire in Bangladesh, the Lalbagh Fort is the best place for him. The fort is most popular and renowned throughout the country which is also known as Fort Aurangabad. The fort situated by the bank of the river Buriganga in Lalbagh of old Dhaka.
In 1678, Mughal emperor Muhammad Azam (third son of Aurangazeb) started the work of the fort during his vice-royalty in Bangladesh. But he could not complete the construction work as his father Aurangazeb called him back to the capital Delhi after 15 months of his deputation.
Lalbagh Fort consists of three buildings including the Mosque (west side, the tomb of Pari-Bibi (middle of east-west of the fort) and the Diwan-i-aam palace (east side).
Among the 3 major parts of Lalbagh Fort, one is the tomb of Pari Bibi which was designed by Shaista Khan in 1684 even after the death of Iran Dukht (Pari Bibi), the daughter of Shaista Khan. Shaista khan designed the tomb of Pari Bibi gorgeously while he brought marble stone, tiles, handy-crafts of flower-leaves to embellish the tomb in befitting manner.
This is the only place in Bangladesh where you could find nine rooms which bedecked with such kind precious and stunning items. The roofs are made of black stones where the top of the tomb, the dome is covered with pure copper. This striking 20.2 meter tomb was launched in 1688.
Another attractive part of Lalbagh Fort is Diwan-i-aam which is the place from where the Mughal ruler gave instructions to the ordinary people once in a week. You will amaze to see a imperial bathroom known as Hammam in this Diwan-i-aam.
You will find three gateways to enter the fort. The southern entryway is the most important and one can see it from Buriganga. It has a three-storied structure where the middle structure is covered by Minaret.
Currently, the Archaeological department of Bangladesh is maintaining this Historical place. This has become a key tourist attraction in Dhaka and almost 3 million people visit this place every year.
To enter the Lalbagh Fort you have to pay 20 taka if you are Bangladeshi where SAARC Country Tourists have to pay 100 taka and other Foreigners to pay 200 taka.
Star Mosque, one of the most illustrious tourist attractions of Old Dhaka which has flamboyant designs and is bejeweled with motifs of blue stars both inside and outside. Star Mosque was built in the first half of the 19th century by Mirza Golam Pir (Mirza Ahmed Jan) at Armanitola in Old Dhaka. The outer wall between the doors was decorated with the motif of Mount Fuji on glassy tiles and a crescent-and-star design decorates the upper part of the portico. Hundreds of blue stars have been created on the domes of white marble. The mosque is one of the very few examples of exclusive chinitikri mosaic, found in the striking blue star mosaic, which gave the mosque its name Star Mosque (Tara Masjid in Bengali).
The mosque is a simple rectangular built in the Mughal style with three doorways on the east façade and one on the north wall and another on the south wall. Three domes rounded off the mosque, the innermost one being the larger. Towers accented the corners and the façades displayed plastered panel decoration. In early 20th century, Ali Jan Bepari financed its renovation when a front verandah was added. The surface was redone in ‘Chini Tikri’, a popular broken china decoration.
The domes and the exterior are covered with different colored star shaped china clay tiles. The upper portion of the eastern façade also incorporates a crescent motif. The work assumed another texture by using assorted glazed tiles on the interior. The three mihrabs and the doorways are decorated with mosaic floral pattern. A plant and vase motif is repeated as a decorative element on the pendantive and the interior of the verandah wall.
Non-Muslims are normally welcome outside of prayer time, but you should dress appropriately and women should bring something with which to cover their hair. The mosque is normally closed outside prayer time, but the caretaker of the mosque will open it for you to visit any time if you ask.
In mughal period, Sheikh Enayet Ullah, the landlord of Jamalpur porgona built a beautiful palace named “Rangmahal”. He used to amuse here keeping gorgeous girls collecting from home and abroad, dressing them with dazzling dresses and luxurious ornaments.
In that time, the French became very wealthy doing business here in competition with the English and other European companies. They bought the palace and used it as trading house.
You could find a pond which the French dug for sweet water is still exists in the compound of Ahsan Manzil. The pond was named as “Les Jalla” in that time.
In 1830, French sell the trading house of Kumartuli to the recognized landlord of Dhaka Khwaja Alimullah. After some redecoration work, the trading house became the dwelling of Khwaja Alimullah. In his time, a stable and a family mosque was added in the compound. After his death, his son Khwaja Abdul Gani made a great prosper to the property, and named it “Ahsan Manzil” on his son Ahsan Ullah. In the east side of the old building, he made a new building with a different design, and also done great renovation work to the old building. Since then, the old building was called “Ondor Mohol” and the new building was called “Rong mohol”.
In 1985, Dhaka National Museum acquired the property and made it a museum.
To enter into Ahsan Manzil, Bangladeshi national have to pay 20 taka where the SAARC country tourists have to pay 75 taka and nationals from other countries have to pay 100 taka.
Dhakeshwari Temple, the most significant place of worship for Hindu community in Bangladesh considered as essential part of Dhaka's cultural heritage. The name "Dhakeshwari" which means "Goddess of Dhaka" is located in Old Dhaka up a short alley of Dhakeshwari road. Hindu religious regard Dhakeswari as to be the presiding deity of Dhaka, which is a personification or form of Goddess Durga the Adi Shakti. The idol of Durga is called Dhakeswari .
Although the origin of the Dhakeshwari temple is shrouded in mystery but it is assumed that Ballal Sen has built the Dhakeshwari temple in the 12th century. Many say the city Dhaka was named after this temple.
If you enter to it, you will find four small temples of same size and shape on the northeastern corner of the tank, which stand one after another from east to west. Each of them is built on a high plinth and approached by a flight of steps, and has a Shiva linga inside. Having beautiful wooden doors with curving of different motifs, both sculptural and floral, the main temple facing south stands to the north of the nat-mandir. It is a three-roomed structure building with a veranda in front.
People from all religion have access to enter to this temple which remains open every day.
Khan Mohammad Mridha Mosque
Khan Mohammad Mridha Mosque which is stylistically similar to Lalbagh Fort located at Old Dhaka. The Mosque was built on a raised platform which is 5.8m from the ground level. The mosque was built during the rule of Farrukh Siyar, Deputy Governor of Dhaka and it was thought that Khan Mohammad Mirzan was the architect of this Mosque.
The rectangular structured prayer hall of Khan Mohammad Mridha Mosque is capped by three domes, where the central one is larger than other. The corner minarets are short and slender, rising just above the parapet and are capped by ribbed copulas. The annex to the north of the mosque serves as a madrasa or religious school and has a hujra or arcaded hall that is used for travelers and visitors.
The tourist being mesmerized to see the facade of the mosque decorated with paneling and ornamental merlons along the parapet. The foyers to the prayer hall are outlined by multi-cusped archways and affianced columns on either side. The interior is separated into three bays by two lateral arches. Each bay contains a mihrab that is marked by multi-cusped arch within a rectangular panel.
To get a good view of this walled mosque, you have to enter the main gate off the main road.
People of any religion along with women are welcome inside but ladies should get properly covered. The mosque gate remains locked other than the prayer time but if you ask the caretaker, he’ll open it for you.
Armenians in devotion were Christians belonging to Greek or Orthodox Church. In Dhaka, the early Armenian settlers constructed a small chapel in the center of their community churchyard. But by the end of the 18th century the Armenian community had grown considerably and the chapel was found inadequate for the community. So the chapel was replaced by the Holy Resurrection Church with major donations by Agah Catchick Minas who donated the land and Michael Sarkies, Astwasatoor Gavork, Margar Pogose and Khojah Petrus for construction costs. The church was completed in 1781.
In 1910, a parsonage was added and the floor of the church was decked out with marble, and electric lights, with donation by Arathoon Stephen of Calcutta.
Armenian Church in rectangular shape includes an arched gate and an arched door. There are a total of four doors and 27 windows. The main floor is divided into three parts: a pulpit enclosed by railings, a middle section with two folding doors, and an area separated by a wooden fence for seating women and children. There has a spiral staircase into the church.
You will find a statue stands at the grave of Catachik Avatik Thomas, portraying his wife in the old graveyard which was bought from Kolkata and the grave is inscribed with the words “Best of Husbands.”
Today, the Armenian Church is generally closed. It has been the subject of BBC and AFP documentaries, and has received recognition from the Bangladeshi government as an archaeological site under the jurisdiction of the department of architecture.
Dhaka Sadarghat, one of the most dynamic places in Dhaka, located in the southern part of capital, on the river Buriganga. If you visit the Dhaka City River Front, one of the largest river ports in the world, you will find the place always bustling as 30,000 people, in average, use the terminal for departure and arrival every day through about 200 large and small passenger launches.
It’s fascinating to watch the large river ferries, over laden with people and local produce, and the loading and unloading activities to rickety warehouses on the riverfront. Triple-decked ferries are docked along the side of the jetty while small wooden boats pile their trade in between. The harsh of sirens sound like an air raid as boats depart and arrive from the countryside.
Among all the large ships are the tiny wooden boats cross the river with their single oarsman standing at their bows. These are the ones that you can hire to take you out to the middle of the river – where everything seems relatively calm. These are available almost everywhere along the waterfront, though most people hire them from around Sadarghat boat terminal.
Stays busy all day long, full of any kind of bouts and people. That is so authentic – just a true face of Dhaka’s everyday life.