Old Dhaka

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Old Dhaka
পুরান ঢাকা
Dhaka City across Buriganga River in a 1861 painting[1]
Dhaka City across Buriganga River in a 1861 painting[1]
Map of Old Dhaka during British rule
Map of Old Dhaka during British rule
Coordinates: 23°42′25″N 90°24′34″E / 23.70694°N 90.40944°E / 23.70694; 90.40944Coordinates: 23°42′25″N 90°24′34″E / 23.70694°N 90.40944°E / 23.70694; 90.40944
Country Bangladesh
DistrictDhaka District
City CorporationDhaka South City Corporation
SettlementAround 700 CE
Establishment1608 CE
ExpansionAfter 1910 CE

Old Dhaka (Bengali: পুরান ঢাকা, romanizedPuran Dhaka) is a term used to refer to the historic old city of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.[2] It was founded in 1608 as Jahangirabad or Jahangirnagar (Bengali: জাহাঙ্গীরনগর, romanizedJahangirnogor, lit.'City of Jahangir'), the capital of Mughal Province of Bengal and named after the Mughal emperor Jahangir. It is located on the banks of the Buriganga River. It was one of the largest and most prosperous cities of South Asia and the center of the worldwide muslin trade. The then Nawab of Bengal Murshid Quli Khan shifted the capital from Dhaka to Murshidabad in the early-18th century. With the rise of Calcutta (now Kolkata) during the British rule, Dhaka began to decline and came to be known as the "City of Magnificent Ruins". The British however began to develop the modern city from the mid-19th century.[3]

Ahsan Manzil, the abode of Dhaka Nawabs.
Lalbagh Kella

Old Dhaka is famous for its variety of foods and amicable living of people of all religions in harmony. The main Muslim festivals celebrated with funfair here are Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha and Ashura,[4] Hindu festivals like Durga Puja,[5] Kali Puja, and Saraswati Puja[6] are also celebrated with enthusiasm. The festivals which are celebrated by all religious communities with much splendor include Shakrain (পৌষ সংক্রান্তি), Pohela Falgun,[7] and Halkhata (হালখাতা). Religion-wise, the old Dhaka is predominantly Muslim, while a significant number of Hindus also reside here. Christians and Buddhists are also inhabitants here in small numbers. Its inhabitants are known as Dhakaiya and converse in the Dhakaiya Kutti, a dialect of Bengali and Dhakaiya Urdu, a dialect of Urdu.


Dhakeshwari Temple
Taara Masjid, Armanitola

The existence of a settlement in the area that is now Dhaka dates from the 7th century. The city area was ruled by the Buddhist kingdom of Kamarupa and the Pala Empire before passing to the control of the Hindu Sena dynasty in the 9th century. The name of the town may have derived after the establishment of the Goddess Dhakeshvari's temple by Ballal Sena in the 12th century.[citation needed]

After the Sena Empire, Dhaka was ruled by the Delhi Sultanate (sometimes tenuously), then by the Bengal Sultanate, before being taken over by the Mughals in 1576.[8] Dhaka started to grow from 1610 under the Mughal Subedars.[9] The oldest standing mosque was built in 1454 by Bakht Binat during the rule of Nasiruddin Mahmud Shah.[9]

The development of townships and housing has resulted in a significant growth in population came as the city was proclaimed the capital (replacing Rajmahal) of Bengal Subah under Mughal rule in 1608. Mughal Subahdar Islam Khan was the first administrator of the city. Khan named the town "Jahangirabad" (জাহাঙ্গীরাবাদ; City of Jahangir) in honour of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir, although this name was dropped soon after Jahangir's death. Farashganj (French town) was settled by the French 1780, then known as French Market. The area is known for its 19th and early 20th century mansions.[10] Farashganj also had the presence of French East India Company.[11] The 18th and 19th century saw significant number of Armenians settle down in Armanitola, then a predominantly Armenian neighborhood. There is an Armenian Church in Armanitola.[12] The British converted an old Afghan fort into a Central Jail in 1820.[9] Das Babu, prominent merchant had a daughter Indira, whose tomb is present here. Indira road is named after her and not after Indira Gandhi as some mistakenly believe it to be.[9] Pogose School, was founded by Armenian businessman Nicholas Pogose, as the first private school in Dhaka.[13] The national political party, Bangladesh Awami League, was founded in Rose Garden Palace on 23 June 1949.[14]

21st Century[edit]

The area saw rise in drug abuse, especially Ya Ba and Phensedyl.[15][16] Old Dhaka has a large number of chemical, plastic, electrical goods factories, and printing presses. The government of Bangladesh is trying to relocate them out of Old Dhaka.[17] In 2010 a fire that was flamed by chemical warehouse killed more than hundred people and increased the calls for chemical factories and warehouse to be moved from the area.[18] The narrow lanes make it difficult for fire trucks to reach fires in the area and many of them are narrow to even fit a fire truck.[19] Dhaka's Third Special Judge's Court is located in Bakshibazar, Old Dhaka.[20] Ansarullah Bangla Team attacked a police check post, leaving two cops injured and the capture of one terrorist on 1 February 2017.[21] It fell under the jurisdiction of Dhaka South City Corporation after the administrative division of Dhaka.[22]


Many of the British and Mughal era buildings of old Dhaka face the risk of being knocked down to be replaced with modern apartment buildings. Conservationist are trying to preserve them but the government of Bangladesh has shown little interest in preserving them.[23][24] The government declared Shankhari Bazaar a heritage site in 2013, which met resistance from the residents who wanted to expand the buildings.[25] In 2014 a mosque built in 1707 was demolished leading to controversy and criticism.[26] Government run schools are in a depleted condition in Old Dhaka as of 2015.[27] In 2016 the three hundred-year-old Gorostan Shahi Mosque was demolished to build a new structure.[28] Many of the buildings are demolished because RAJUK and the Archaeological Department of the government did not list them as historical buildings which would have protected them.[29]


Northbrook Hall

Bahadur Shah Park is a 19th-century park that serves as an exercise ground for the residents. Sadarghat is the river terminal of Dhaka City. Shakhari Bazar is a historically Hindu neighborhood known for its Shakhari (conch musical instrument) makers.[30] The Shakhari also make bangles from the shells. The shops are in decline as many news to buy cheaper bangles made from artificial shell.[31] Northbrook Hall auditorium was founded in 1881; it holds art exhibitions.[32] Pohela Falgun is celebrated in old Dhaka.[33] Bulbul Academy of Fine Arts is a historic art school in Old Dhaka.[34] The Dhaka Central Jail, which has been closed down now houses a museum.[35] The jail was founded in 1788 as a criminal ward. when it closed in 2016 it housed over 8 thousand prisoners.[36] Shakrain is a festival of kite in Old Dhaka. It marks the end of Poush, the first month of winter in Bangladesh.[37] It also involves rooftop parties, fire-breathing, and fireworks.[38] Bongshal Pond is Tanti Bazaar is a community pool and gathering spot.[39] Chaand Raat (the night before eid) is celebrated here with fireworks and Adda (hangout).[40] Taazia processions are held by Shia Muslims on the occasion of Muharram near Hossaaini and Barha Katra.[4] There are 12 musical schools in Old Dhaka.[41] Old Dhaka has a sense of community where neighbors know each other and that differentiat it from new Dhaka.[42] During Durge Puja some parts of Old Dhaka are brightly decorated and people play drums in the streets.[43]


Old Dhaka is famous for its biriyani, morog polau, and kebabs.[44] Morog (Chicken) polau is set apart from traditional biriyani in its use of turmeric and malai (cream of milk) together.[45] An old specialty is bakarkhani with ‘kata moshlar mangsho' is meat cooked with whole spices not powder or paste. Farukul er muri (puffed rice) a venture that started in the 1980s.[44] Other well known dishes include "glassy beef" which is beef with a thick layer of oil on top giving it a glassy appearance. Sheer khorma is a desert item that uses a variety of nuts. Nihari and kacchi biryani are Mughal dishes famous in old Dhaka.[46] Kazi Alauddin Road and Chawkbazar are known for their road side stalls selling traditional iftar items during Ramadan.[47][48] Boro baper polay khai, made with minced meat, chick peas, eggs, potatoes and 13 different spices, is a Ramadan specialty.[49] Faluda is a traditional iftar desert and lassi is a specialty drink.[50] Shab-e-Barat is celebrated with roti with Halwa, ornate breads, and breads shaped like fish.[51] Kala Bhuna, a beef dish, was created in Old Dhaka and is a speciality of the area.[52] Old Dhaka is home to the historic Prince of Wales bakery, established in the 1850s in Lakshmi Bazaar by a man from Wales. The bakery has been owned by three generations of the same family.[53]

Local famous foods are:


Farashganj SC founded in 1959 and Rahmatganj MFS founded in 1933 are two major Old Dhaka-based association football teams.[54] East End Sporting Club is one of the top clubs in Dhaka producing players like Aminul Islam Bulbul.


The area has well known schools like Dhaka Collegiate School, Pogos High School, St. Gregory's High School & College, K. L. Jubilee High School & College Bangla Bazar Govt. Girls High School and St. Francis Xavier's Girls School & College.[42] Jagannath University is a leading public university in the country located at Old Dhaka.[55] Dhaka College campus was initially located at Dhaka Collegiate School premise before moving to its current location.[citation needed] Sir Salimullah Medical College was founded in 1875 in Old Dhaka; its hospital wing is Mitford Hospital.[56]


Two languages used in this region. Dhakaiya Kutti is spoken by the original Dhakaiyas of Old Dhaka in Bangladesh. It is a dialect of Bengali. Dhakaiya Urdu is spoken by Khusbas, Bihari and Mujahir.


Dholaikhal in old Dhaka has large number of light engineering firms. The government is also trying to remove chemical factories from Old Dhaka.[57] Counterfeit cosmetics for Dhaka are made in neighborhoods in Old Dhaka.[58]



Old Dhaka consists of 8 metropolitan thanas- Hazaribagh, Lalbagh, Chowkbazar, Bangsal, Kotwali (Dhaka Sadar), Wari, Sutrapur and Gendaria. Old Dhaka is under the administration of Dhaka South City Corporation. Old Dhaka is bounded by the areas of Mohammadpur on the west, Dhanmondi, New Market, Shahbagh, Ramna, Motijheel and Sabujbagh on the north, Jatrabari and Shyampur on the east, adding also Kamrangir Char Thana and Keraniganj Upazila on the south.


Lalbagh Qila

Old Dhaka falls under the control Dhaka South City Corporation. Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh is the mayor of the city corporation.[59]


Armenian Church

List of landmarks in this region:

  • Greek monument in Dhaka University with the preserved nine gravestones of the old Greek Community.[60]
  • Northbrook Hall (Lal kuthi) built during the British Raj period to host the reception of the Viceroy of India Lord Northbrook. It has both Mughal and European architectural elements in its design.[61]
  • Lalbagh Fort
  • Chowk Bazaar Shai Mosque
  • Dhakeshwari Temple is the national temple of Bangladesh, it was built in the 12th century.[62]
  • Hussaini Dalan
  • Armenian Church the Church was built in 1798 by the Armenian community in Dhaka.[63][30]
  • Mitford Hospital was built in the mid 1800s on land donated by Robert Mitford, who was a Tax collector of Dhaka. Before the establishment of the hospital, this land was the site of the Dutch settlement and trading post.[61]
  • Tara mosque (the Star Mosque)- The mosque was built in 1711 by Mirza Gulam Pir, a Mughal landlord. The domes of the mosque were made with imported marbles from India.In 1926 Ali Jaan Bepari, a merchant, important China clay to renovate the mosque. The mosque has a star shaped fountain and the china clay with star shaped patterns. The china clay is unique among mosques in Bangladesh.[64]
  • Ahsan Manzil was the former residence of the Nawab of Dhaka. It was nationalized in 1952 and turned into museum.[65]
  • Bara Katra was built by Prince Shah Shuja, son of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1644. He was the Mughal Governor of Bengal. He never lived in the palace which functioned as a guesthouse.[61]
  • Choto Katra was built by another Mughal governor Shaista Khan in 1663. The interior houses the tomb of Chompa bibi after home the locality Champatoli is named.[61]
  • Rose Garden Palace - The palace was built by Hrishikesh Das. He was lower caste Hindu Zamidar, who built this palace after being insulted by a higher caste Hindu in a party. He sold the mansion in 1936 to Khan Bahadur Kazi Abdur Rashid, whose family sold it to the government.[66]
  • Ramakrishna Temple - Built in 1916 by Swami Brahmananda, first president of the influential Hindu religious and spiritual organisation Ramakrishna Mission.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Painting - De Fabeck, Frederick William Alexander". Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  2. ^ Chowdhury, AM (2012). "Dhaka". In Islam, Sirajul; Miah, Sajahan; Khanam, Mahfuza; Ahmed, Sabbir (eds.). Banglapedia: the National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Online ed.). Dhaka, Bangladesh: Banglapedia Trust, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. ISBN 984-32-0576-6. OCLC 52727562. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  3. ^ "Saving Dhaka's heritage". BBC Travel.
  4. ^ a b "Taazia processions held in Dhaka amidst tight security". bdnews24.com. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  5. ^ "Durga Puja testifies for religious harmony". Dhaka Tribune. 12 October 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  6. ^ "Saraswati Puja tomorrow". Prothom Alo. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Pohela Falgun being celebrated". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  8. ^ Baxter, Craig (1997). Bangladesh : from a nation to a state. Westview Press. pp. 17–20. ISBN 0-8133-2854-3.
  9. ^ a b c d "Allure of Old Dhaka". The Daily Star. 11 July 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  10. ^ "Farashganj, a lost history". Dhaka Tribune. 26 November 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  11. ^ "Edifices of the past". The Daily Star. 27 September 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  12. ^ "The saga of an Armenian family of Old Dhaka". The Daily Star. 22 October 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  13. ^ "Armenians in Dhaka". The Daily Star. 9 June 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  14. ^ "Dhaka to get new look during Awami League's National Council". bdnews24.com. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  15. ^ "Drug abuse in old Dhaka". The Financial Express. Dhaka. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  16. ^ "Old Dhaka a haven for drug peddling". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  17. ^ "'Govt plans to shift chemical factories outside Dhaka'". The Daily Star. 23 February 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  18. ^ "Old Dhaka's chemical godowns to be shifted from March: Khokon". The Daily Star. 19 January 2017. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  19. ^ "3 key obstacles to fighting blaze". The Daily Star. 5 January 2017. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  20. ^ "Khaleda will be able to contest elections even if she is convicted: Moudud". bdnews24.com. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  21. ^ "Acid attack on 2 cops". The Daily Star. 2 February 2017. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  22. ^ "Hazardous chemical warehouses will have to shift from Old Dhaka in March, mayor says". bdnews24.com. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  23. ^ "Blame game bars preservation". The Daily Star. 22 September 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  24. ^ Hoskins, Tansy (11 March 2015). "Old Dhaka in danger: young volunteers bid to save historic city from developers". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  25. ^ "Rajuk invites Shankhari Bazaar residents for talks". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  26. ^ "Mughal Mosque being dismantled in Old Dhaka". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  27. ^ "Old Dhaka schools in a shambles". The Daily Star. 25 August 2015. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  28. ^ "New mosque to replace 300 year old Mughal structure". The Daily Star. 19 January 2017. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  29. ^ "Razing history to the ground". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  30. ^ a b "Morning in Old Dhaka". The Daily Star. 18 February 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  31. ^ "Dhaka's 'Conch Street' under threat". BBC News. 3 April 2008. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  32. ^ "Chobi Mela IX: An Old Dhaka Excursion". The Daily Star. 7 February 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  33. ^ "Pohela Falgun – an easy guide for busy ones". The Daily Star. 7 February 2017. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  34. ^ "Chobi Mela IX Exhibits : Pushpamala's portraits juxtapose Gohar's landscapes". The Daily Star. 9 February 2017. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  35. ^ "Old Dhaka jail museum to open Nov 2-5 to exhibit Bangabandhu, 4 leaders' photos". The Daily Star. 29 October 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  36. ^ "200-year-old Dhaka Central Jail cleared". The Daily Star. 30 July 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  37. ^ "The night of Sakrain". The Daily Star. 5 January 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  38. ^ "Jovago Bangladesh offers 'hitch-free' pre-booking of hotels in Dhaka". bdnews24.com. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  39. ^ "A Blessing in Disguise: Bongshal Pond". The Daily Star. 14 October 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  40. ^ "Chaand Raat in Old Dhaka". The Daily Star. 16 July 2015. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  41. ^ "Bengal Classical Music Festival ends with Chaurasia's flute rendition". Dhaka Tribune. 30 November 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  42. ^ a b "Charming Old Dhaka". The Daily Star. 1 November 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  43. ^ "Durga in my neighbourhood". The Daily Star. 4 October 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  44. ^ a b "The afternoon snacks of old Dhaka". Dhaka Tribune. 11 August 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  45. ^ "Treasures of Bangladeshi cuisine". The Daily Star. 24 February 2017. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  46. ^ "Old Dhaka recipes". The Daily Star. 6 September 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  47. ^ "Dhaka vs Dhaka: The food derby". The Daily Star. 17 June 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  48. ^ "Rush for Old Dhaka iftar on". The Daily Star. 8 June 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  49. ^ "Iftar delicacy of Old Dhaka". The Daily Star. 20 June 2015. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  50. ^ "Chawk Bazar sees crowd on first day of Ramadan". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  51. ^ "Shab-e-Barat and Old Dhaka foods". The Daily Star. 1 June 2015. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  52. ^ "From the womb to the tomb". Dhaka Tribune. 16 September 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  53. ^ "The Old Baker's Tale". The Daily Star. 30 October 2015. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  54. ^ "Abahani too good for Mohammedan". Dhaka Tribune. 21 September 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  55. ^ "Jagannath students stage rally". The Daily Star. 27 August 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  56. ^ "Salimullah Medical College Mortuary: Little respect for the dead". The Daily Star. 27 November 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  57. ^ "Govt to set up industrial estate: Amu". The Daily Star. 12 January 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  58. ^ "Counterfeit cosmetics flood markets ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  59. ^ "Waste bins to make a cleaner South Dhaka". The Daily Star. 27 April 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  60. ^ Glimpses of the Greek Community from the Dhaka University Gravestones, ELINEPA, 2005
  61. ^ a b c d "The Lost Panorama". The Daily Star. 28 July 2015. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  62. ^ "Mandap-hopping". Dhaka Tribune. 9 October 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  63. ^ "An Armenian Oasis in Bangladesh". The Armenian Mirror-Spectator. 27 January 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  64. ^ "Watch: The sparkling mosque of Old Dhaka". The Daily Star. 26 June 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  65. ^ Hamill, Jim (30 April 2015). "72 Hours in Dhaka". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  66. ^ "19th century Rose Garden Palace now a government property". bdnews24.com. 16 September 2018.

External links[edit]