Dhaka is the capital and largest city of Bangladesh in Southeast Asia. It is considered the fourth most populous city in the world. Dhaka is a summary of the cultural mosaic that the country has because many religious and ethnic groups live together.
Dhaka is known as the “City of Mosques” and is known for producing the world’s best muslin (plain-woven cotton fabric). It is also known as “the world’s rickshaw capital.” Approximately 400,000 people use rickshaws every day.
Where is Dhaka Located?
Dhaka is the capital city of Bangladesh, located in South Asia. It sits on the eastern banks of the Buriganga River, near the country’s center.
History of Dhaka
Dhaka has a rich and diverse history. Initially known as Jahangir Nagar, during the Mughal period in the 17th century, it was a provincial capital and center of the flourishing muslin trade. It was during the British Raj in the 19th century that the city came to be known as Dhaka.
The Partition of India in 1947 led to the creation of Pakistan, which was divided into two territories: West Pakistan (present-day Pakistan) and East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh). In this process, Dhaka became the administrative capital of East Pakistan. Traditionally a center for political and cultural activities, Dhaka has since experienced rapid urbanization and significant population growth.
However, it wasn’t until 1971, following the Bangladesh Liberation War, that Dhaka became the capital of the newly independent nation of Bangladesh.
The war was a struggle for independence by the Bengali population of East Pakistan, and it ended with Bangladesh’s independence on December 16, 1971. Dhaka was named the capital of the new country at this time. The city since then has been the center of political, cultural, and economic activities in Bangladesh.
Features of Dhaka
Geography and Climate
Dhaka is located in the geographical heart of Bangladesh, with the Buriganga River flowing past it. It sits on a flat deltaic plain, with several small rivers, tributaries, and canals crisscrossing it.
Dhaka experiences a tropical monsoon climate, with a distinct monsoon season (June to October), a cool, dry winter (November to February), and a hot, humid summer (March to May).
In 2021, Dhaka was one of the most populated cities in the world, with over 21 million people. The city is home to a diverse population, mostly Bengalis, with various ethnic and religious communities living together. Bengali is the most commonly spoken language, and Islam is the predominant religion.
Dhaka plays a critical role in the Bangladeshi economy, being the center of trade, commerce, and industry. The city has seen significant growth in the service sector, including finance, banking, real estate, and tourism. Dhaka also hosts a large number of local and multinational companies. The ready-made garment industry is particularly significant, contributing a substantial portion of the country’s exports.
Things to Do and Places to See in Dhaka
1. Lalbagh Fort
Lalbagh Fort, also known as “Fort Aurangabad,” is an incomplete Mughal palace fortress at the Buriganga River in the southwestern part of Dhaka. Construction began in 1678 by Prince Muhammad Azam during his 15-month-long vice-royalty of Bengal, but before the work could complete, he was recalled by Aurangzeb.
His successor, Shaista Khan, still needed to complete the work, though he stayed in Dhaka up to 1688. The fort was never constructed and was unoccupied for a long period. Today, it stands as a monument of the Mughal era in Bangladesh and is a popular tourist attraction.
2. Ahsan Manzil
Ahsan Manzil is one of the most significant architectural monuments of Bangladesh. Located on the banks of the Buriganga River in Dhaka, it was the official residential palace and seat of the Nawab of Dhaka. The building is split into two parts: the eastern side, the Rangmahal, and the western side, referred to as the Andarmahal. The palace became the Bangladesh National Museum on September 20, 1992.
3. National Parliament House
Also known as Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban, the National Parliament House in Dhaka is one of the most significant legislative complexes in the world. The complex was designed by architect Louis Kahn and is considered a masterpiece of modern architecture. It was completed in 1982 and is surrounded by a large, beautifully landscaped area that includes an artificial lake.
4. Dhakeshwari Temple
The Dhakeshwari Temple is the most important Hindu place of worship in Bangladesh. The name Dhakeshwari translates to ‘Goddess of Dhaka.’ While the exact date of its construction is uncertain, it is widely believed that it was built by the Sena dynasty and possibly dates back to the 12th century.
The temple complex is a place of tranquility in the bustling city and an important center of festivities during the significant Hindu festivals.
5. Old Dhaka and Sadarghat
Old Dhaka is a historically and culturally rich part of the city that offers a glimpse into the Dhaka of the past. It is characterized by its narrow winding lanes, bustling bazaars, and old buildings. The Sadarghat area, on the banks of the Buriganga River, is one of the largest river ports in the world.
Here, you can witness the vibrant river life of Dhaka, with hundreds of boats and launches arriving and departing. You can also take a boat ride on the river to get a unique perspective of the city.