Dhaka is the capital of the country of Bangladesh and offers a host of attractions and activities for the discerning traveler. The country offers a fascinating display of Muslim architecture created by Mughal stalwarts like Shaista Khan and there are also modern developments like shopping malls and theme parks to complement the scenario of Muslim buildings beside cultural festivals to offer tourists a sense of local and Islamic culture.
With a wide range of activities to choose from, we’ve narrowed it down for you with the 10 best things to do in Dhaka here.
1. Aparajeyo Bangla
Bangladesh was formerly a part of Pakistan and known as East Pakistan and got independence from the country to assert its own nationhood, language and identity. The Aparajeyo Bangla is a sculpture located on the campus of the popular Dhaka University that commemorates the liberation war of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971 and is an ideal tourist attraction for visitors interested in the history and wars of the country. The name means Unvanquished Bengal or that Bengal or Bangladesh cannot be defeated and conquered. The sculpture also offers an idea of the fine art of the country and a documentary film was shot based on this theme.
2. Basundhara Mall
The mall shopping culture has come to third world countries like India and Thailand and Bangladesh being a close neighbor is no exception. Basundhara Mall is the largest shopping center in South Asia and offers a modern and vibrant shopping experience in a bid to spice up third world country urban environments. As typical of shopping malls, the Basundhara Mall also contains a CinePlex to showcase films from around the world and even the name of the shopping mall means something like the globe or the planet. Food outlets are also available along with stores selling a variety of items like electronics and paraphernalia all under one roof.
3. Shishu Park
This is a park for children located in the Shahbag area of Dhaka. It is the first amusement park for children in the country, like shopping malls for adults. The park is maintained by the Bangladesh tourism agency and offers entertainment for children. There are various rides available, typical of amusement parks, like merry go rounds and wheel train and wheel rides. The park does get a lot of visitors, particularly during the Eid celebrations, and the government plans to revamp the park to make it more attractive and user-friendly. The Bangladesh Air Force has also contributed a fighter jet to the park and the park is considered a profit making venture.
This is a ruined area near Dhaka and gives an idea of the Islamic culture and Islamic heritage of the country. Literally meaning the City or Village of Gold, the area offers travelers the chance to experience countryside near Dhaka and archaeology and adventure. There are mosques and also ruined gorgeous mansions like Raj baris or palatial buildings of rich rulers and owners. There is also a pond around the small village and an interesting museum of local folk art. The scattering of ruins and villages make this an ideal experience for ruin tourism similar to ancient forts and palaces in India.
5. Lalbagh Fort
The fort is a specimen of the Mughal or Muslim culture of the country, quite atmospheric with gardens, and offers peace and tranquility to escape the traffic and bustle of Dhaka city. The fort was constructed by the son of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and later by Shaista Khan and the fort even contains a mausoleum for the daughter of the architect called Pari Bibi. fort also contains an auditorium and mosque beside a museum of Mughal era miniature paintings, coins, carpets and calligraphy. Besides swords and firearms, the fort also contains a bathhouse and bathing tank typical of Queen Baths in foreign countries.
6. Liberation War Museum
The museum commemorates the liberation war of Bangladesh and independence of the country from Pakistan and can be quite graphic with skulls and bones typical of the war museum in Cambodia about ethnic genocide. Cultural events are also held at the museum beside the presence of a tea stall and book shop for the liberation history of the country. There are artifacts and exhibits and even contributions from foreign countries like Japan and America for preservation and upkeep of historical museums and share the cultural and political heritage of the country. The liberation war museum asserts the identity of Bangladesh as a unique Muslim country and not a part of Pakistan as East Pakistan.
7. Pink Palace
This is an architectural wonder in the city of Dhaka and gives an idea of the lifestyle of the Nawabs or Muslim rulers of the city and country. The official residence of the Nawabs of the country, the palace was destroyed by a tornado but has been restored and is now a museum displaying photos, portraits and Islamic history of the country. British ruler Lord Curzon is also said to have stayed at the palace that occurs on the site of a former French factory. The palace has been constructed in the revivalist mode of architecture and is painted pink and designated as a national museum and popular tourist attraction of Dhaka city.
8. Dhaka International Folk Fest
Bangladesh is not just history and ruins, they also have a rich and vibrant culture as denoted by the popular folk music festival that occurs in the city along with other cultural festivals like the literature festival and the Bengal classical music festival. Folk music is a big tradition of Bengal region and prominent among the folk music here is the mystic music of the Bauls who derive their culture from the Sufi and liberated tradition and also popular among Hindu groups like in West Bengal. The folk music festival features not only artists from the country but also from the subcontinent like Baul singers Paban Das Baul and Parvathy Baul from West Bengal and Abida Parveen, singer of Sufi music from Pakistan.
9. Dhakeshwari Temple
This temple for Hindu Goddess Dhakeshwari or Durga popular for the Durga Puja in West Bengal has been declared a national monument in the country. The temple has assumed significance in the country after the destruction of a similar Kali temple in the city by the Pakistan army and now holds sociocultural activities like the popular Durga Puja of West Bengal.
10. Sat Gumbad Mosque
This is the finest specimen of Islamic culture and religion of the country and has been constructed by Mughal architect Shaista Khan with seven large round domes and is a wonderful and peaceful setting and a popular tourist attraction of Dhaka.
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