Most of Bangladesh stands on flat and low lying areas. Two great rivers, the Ganges and the Jamuna join forces just west of the capital city; Dhaka. The rivers spill into a maze of waterways along the Bay of Bengal and from the largest delta at the entrance of the capital city. Dhaka City is a land of rivers and when the torrential monsoon rains comes, the rivers burst their banks. Rural families live mostly in communities of bamboo houses built on embankments of mud along the river. Travel between villages is often by canoe. In the center of the city the situation is very much different and provides a stark contrast to the hard reality experienced by the local community.
When To Go:
The cold months of November – February is considered as the peak season to visit Dhaka City. The nation has calm climate during these months. The winter season is considered as the top season and an ideal time to explore the city because it is around this time when temperature is low as compared with the other time of the year. In winter season temperature changes somewhere around 12 and 20 ° Celsius. In winter, there are just about no downpours amid this period. In summer and stormy season, the temperature ranges around 28-35° Celsius and there are torrential monsoon rains in May, June and July. It is not the best time to visit during these months because heavy flooding always occurs and made worse by the cyclones that often strike Bangladesh.
These are the top things to do in the city of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Liberation War Museum
The Liberation War Museum is located in the central part of the city and holds a lot of information about war and how the country was liberated from its early colonizers. Aside from lots of images there is also a film showing that will make you understand the hardship this country has experienced as well as fully comprehend the birth of a nation and its journey to total independence which was finally granted in 1971.
The bloody war, its gruesome atrocities, kidnapping, genocides, and the brave heroes who fought until the end are all proudly displayed inside this very touching museum about Bengali’s history.
The National Memorial
The National Memorial is an icon of the country that is worth visiting even if it is a bit along the outskirts of Dhaka City. This is a large memorial that commemorates the war with India and the creation of the state of Bangladesh. The monument is very well maintained. It does not take much time to visit the Memorial Center. You don’t need a guide to understand what this monument means, You can simply ask any locals who frequent the place (mostly students) and they will proudly tell the story of the brave soldiers of Bangladesh and why they are being honored on this park and promenade area.
When in Dhaka, this monument is worth taking time to stop by the road and understand its significant role in the nation’s history.
It’s great to take the family and enjoy a lovely afternoon in the National Memorial. Take great care with the heat and take plenty of sunscreen as it gets very hot indeed especially during the humid summer season. It has several parks nearby that you can also visit. If you don’t have a car, try the rickshaw and you can safely go around the other points of interest in Dhaka City.
National Parliament House
The National Parliament House or the more popularly known the Jatiyo Sangshad Building of Bangladesh is situated in the capital city of Dhaka. It was created by a world famous architect named Louis Kahn and is one of the largest legal complexes in the world. Unfortunately, public access is not allowed you can only visit the heavily guarded and surrounded by large open spaces building only from a great distance.
However, it is architecturally interesting and easily visible from all parts of the city. But having no visitor access makes it quite inadequate to be classified as a major tourist attraction of the city. Picture taking is allowed only from a distance with the imposing building serving as a good background.
During 1952, Bangladesh used to be controlled by Pakistan. In order to enforce their superiority, they tried to wipe out the culture of the country by declaring Urdu (their national language) the official dialect of the people in Dhaka City. But the students of Dhaka Medical College, the University of Dhaka, and a wide range of other colleges and private sectors protested against the implementation of such law and fought with the Pakistani soldiers in this area where they were all shot at, injured, ridiculed and where most of them died.
It happened on a fateful day, February 21, 1952 on this landmark that is now called the Shahid Minar. In recognition of that bravery, this landmark was constructed and the horrible date was declared as a National Day of Mourning. Today, these brave heroes are remembered annually with a commemorative celebration that is filled with songs, film showing, documentaries, prayers, and offered flowers for each of the departed ones.
The Lalbagh Fort is a beautiful mausoleum constructed and designed in Mughal style but do not expect a “Taj Mahal” (another good example of Mughal architecture) like impression for it is totally different from the other famous tourist site in India. The old building and fortress is well kept along with the garden and the walled semi dilapidated mosque side. It holds a small corner of the Mughall archeology in the now ultra-modern Dhaka. Pictures can be taken and you can explore the Old Dhaka that is just right across this huge fort. Once out, you can get lost in the alleys of old Dhaka and try the unique cuisine and special (dhakaya). Another Mughal mosque can also be found nearby if you exit to the right side of the fort, Both sites can be visited and you can combine a tour of both attractions in one ticket.
The “Red Fort” is one of the important historic buildings in Dhaka that is within the proximity of the famous Buriganga River. It can be visited every day for a small entrance fee. It was in 1677 when the government began the construction of this fortress that served as a battlefield against the British forces. Particularly worth seeing is the magnificent audience hall. In the same building, you can check out the Hamman and a small museum. Sunday is usually called “The Red Fort Tour” where families can extend their stay and use the garden for picnic and enjoy long walks around the fort and the mosque. These important landmarks are a must if you are in Old Dhaka.
Sonargaon is listed as a protected landmark of UNESCO World Heritage Site, so it’s a bit disheartening to see that the old complex of buildings was not properly maintained even if they are worth saving. On the other hand, it is still worth a visit. The huge complex is still filled with souvenir shops and small workshops, where sari textile is processed and produced not only as pieces of clothing but bags and other personal items out of the fibrous material called jute. The locals use jute because its tough fibers are the ideal materials used to make rope, matting, and sacking. Bangladesh grows the best quality jute in the world and it is the country’s most important export.
In addition, the area of Sonargaon is also a growing area for the sweet lychee fruits. If it‘s in season, the women take extra effort in tying them all up into bundles and sell it to tourists or in the nearby local market. The quality of the fruit is exceptional, juicy, and truly satisfying. At about 30 km from the city of Dhaka, you will find this ghost town created in the late 800 as a trading center for cotton during the British rule, but later abandoned following the separation from India in 1947. Today, it is now protected by the Department of Archaeology of Bangladesh.
Ramna Park is situated at the middle of Dhaka City and a must see attraction for its lush vegetation and bodies of water (lake). A real oasis in the middle of a busy and humid city. The park is also an ideal recreation area for people who need to stay fit. There are lots of jogging paths and walking places while they inhale the breeze of fresh air coming from the nearby lake area. It is also a perfect spot for romantic couples for some quiet and intimate moments while admiring the view of the lakes and the entire city.
The best time to see this place is during special events like the celebration of New Year’s Eve and other national holidays. It gets all lighted up and decorated in lots of colors that look more stunning at night. A row of restaurants, pubs, and bars can also be found along this recreational park in Dhaka City. Across the park you can see lots of stalls and food kiosks selling the local snacks and delicacies like the samosas, chicken dishes, sweets, and a serving of hot tea.
Ahsan Manzil Royal Palace
The Ahsan Manzil Royal Palace is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the ancient city of Dhaka. It is located near the port and city center. It is a nice building in the typical “zamindar” (landowner) style which is also available in other parts of Bangladesh. Inside you can visit the small museum with interesting objects collected by the Nawab Family, all from the colonial era.
It is another attraction that is definitely worth visiting if you are around in Old Dhaka. It is detached from the hustle and bustle around the city and it is quite surprising to see a quiet and tranquil place that is just across the busy traffic of Dhaka. It is more commonly known as the “Pink Palace” that stands on the banks of the river of Buriganga where the courtyard serves as a place of relaxation and recreation not only for the locals but also for the foreigners who frequents this place and has fallen in love with its huge garden that exudes good atmosphere and tranquility.
Dharmarajika Buddhist Monastery
The Dharmarajika Buddhist Monastery is a haven of peace in the middle of absolute chaos. It is a beautiful complex of Buddhist monasteries complete with giant golden Buddha column on the shores of the pond. Upon entrance you will feel the solemnity of the place and the comfort of Buddha’s presence. It is a busy monastery that is situated close to the Kamalapur train station. The complex incorporates a reflection room in the main prayer hall, a Bodhi tree and space for contemplation, and a separate prayer and chanting room. Observe silence and wear modest clothing when you enter this sacred complex in the city. The monks here are very friendly and gladly welcome any visitor to observe their daily routine and ceremonies.
The lake amidst the complex is utilized by local people to shower in, and for its resident Hindus to perform their early morning rituals. It’s additionally a decent cool spot to observe and unwind after a tour of the city. The highlight of the tour happens during sunset. Around this time, all of the monks gather around the Golden Buddha and perform their chants and praises. This is visually stunning and truly worth waiting for. You can also visit a small orphanage located inside the monastery complex and expect to see small faces smiling back at you while on tour.
This place is an incredible presentation of present day engineering and architectural design with phenomenal lighting during the evening. In the event that you feel the need to delight and amuse your family or your partner, bring them to the Hatir Jheel.
The place literally translates as the “Elephant Lake”. The name itself is identified with the passion of Bangladeshis in raising elephants. There are actual reserves and facilities that are really focused on the elephants here in Dhaka. More than a hundreds of them use to be brought here in Hatir just to take their routine baths and showers and they use to pass along the so-called Elephant Road. Presently the government has rehabilitated the lake and constructed wide roads and bridges with a panoramic view of the city.
Hatir Jheel is essentially an incorporated undertaking of the water refinery and the highway connecting Dhaka City to other towns in Bangladesh. It was developed and fully upgraded for a straight 3 years before it was finally opened for public use for free. The effect was less traffic congestion which has been very beneficial for a city that is striving hard to adapt modernization and an improved economy. Aside from the connecting highways and roads, it is a cool place to see as it unites 6 major towns and locations to the business zones of the country.
Armenian Church of the Holy Resurrection
The Armenian Church of the Holy Resurrection is a surreal place and a good treat for travelers who are into rare and peculiar places to discover. The church also serves as a museum of Orthodox faith and you can arrange a visit to see the items through its resident porter and friendly staff. The church has a huge threshold of relics from the past. Some of which were donated by Armenian merchants, travelers and adventurers.
Most of them carried items with colonial history, gravestones with bronze-style and ark inscriptions and written in Armenian. Lots and lots of history in a wonderful Orthodox church and all well kept. There are many rarities inside and outside to be enjoyed if you love the genre. It is advisable to give a tip to the porter if you want to open them all up in the second time.
Bangladesh National Museum
The Bangladesh National Museum is very well located, has a large collection, culturally rich, as all other museums of Bangladesh are. A short visit can help you get acquainted and know the culture of this people even in a matter of hours. Every artifact, images, and film showing is like a travel back in time when the city was still hounded by colonizers and territorial disputes with other countries. There are lots of interesting exhibits on the customs and traditions of the country. There are exhibits about the difference between the poor and the rich population of the country.
The exhibition of the gods of the Hindu and the subsequent Buddha of the eighth century is also equally interesting. Every important event and aspect of this country has been exhibited in every room. It has also discussed the transition to Islam of the current population from a former Buddhist and Hindu state.
A tour of Dhaka City is an eye-opening experience. There are lots of attractions to see, memorials, cultural landmarks, old fortresses that once protected the city, sacred temples, open markets, and modern structures to admire that proudly highlights the best of Bengali’s rich culture and colorful history. Despite the extreme poverty that is evident in the rural areas, Dhaka is a safe city to explore and travelers enjoy a holiday without any hassles and worries.