What to take home!
Favorite thing: Every one goes to Aarong! I was there on my last visit. But I understand they have become a bit up-market now.
If you want to buy sarees then the place to go to is Tangail Sharee Kutir (Rangs Arcade, Gulshan 2. Phone 8811046). I understand they have an outlet elsewhere in Dhaka too. This is the go-to place for tangail and jamdhani sarees . They also have a good collection of vegetable dye prints. Most importantly they are pretty reasonable.
Dhaka -- unlike anything you've heard
Favorite thing: Dhaka is a thriving, colorful and congested metropolis of some 12 million people, and growing steadily. Many people might take sometime to adjust in Dhaka at first sight - it has to be one of the most frenetic places on Earth. The streets are rivers of chaos filled mostly with very colorful rickshaws - around 400,000 to be exact, the highest number of any city in the world.
According to recorded history it was founded in 1608 A.D. as the seat of the imperial Mughal viceroy of Bengal. Dhaka has been developing fast as a modern city and is the country's center of industrial, commercial, cultural, educational and political activity. The gap between rich and poor is widening throughout the country but it's at its most glaringly obvious here. Depending on where you start from, a thirty minutes to even one hour rickshaw ride can take you from impossibly crowded shantytowns near Old Dhaka to the glitzy high-class neighborhoods of Gulshan and Banani where a meal costs more than most people make in a week.
Motijheel is the main commercial area of the city. Dhaka's main waterfront, Sadarghat, is on the banks of the river Buriganga in Old Dhaka and is crowded with various ferries, yachts, paddle steamers, fishermen's boats and floating dhabas all bustling with activity.
The weather is tropical - hot and very humid during the monsoon season (April-August) and drier and cooler in the winter (October-March). Visitors from colder countries might want to visit in the winter when temperatures are around 20C and humidity is low (around 60-70%).
Visa extensions are available at the Immigration and Passport Office on Agargaon Rd in Central Dhaka. Most drivers know it, an auto-rickshaw from Old Dhaka will run about Tk 50. Su-Th 10AM-1PM receiving applications, 3-5PM delivery.
Getting around once you're there--
Given the plethora of all forms of transport, if you're having trouble getting a decent fare with a driver walk a few feet to the next one. Not all are out to gouge you, so better to find the honest ones and give them your business. Occasionally a driver will demand more money on arrival - the best way to deal with this is to hand over the agreed fare/metered fare and walk away. Make certain from the start that the driver knows where you're headed (unless you can direct him yourself) - they often have limited local knowledge, but will always SAY that they know where somewhere is and take you round the whole city searching whilst the meter ticks.
Cycle-rickshaws are the most popular form of transport, and good for short distances -- mainly on side streets. They make up the bulk of the cities horrendous traffic, and charge around Tk 5 per kilometer. Negotiating a fare beforehand is essential as a foreigner. Cycle-rickshaws in wealthy areas such as Banani and Gulshan often must pay local mafia men for the privilege of servicing the high-price areas. Additionally, foreigners should also be warned that cycle-rickshaws will sometimes begin the ride with a pitch to sell drugs or prostitutes. One or two simple, but firm, declines will generally solve the situation. If you're a woman -- it's particularly inadvisable to ride around alone in cycle-rickshaws after dark -- you're a slow-moving target asking for trouble from thugs and muggers.
Auto-rickshaws (also known as 'CNG') are also abundant and have meters, which drivers can sometimes be persuaded to use. They're the cheapest way to cover longer distances - an 8km ride from Old Dhaka to Gulshan should cost around Tk 70. The meters start at Tk 13.50, but for shorter distances you'll likely have to negotiate a fare instead.
Taxis also ply the roads, some yellow and some black, all with meters. Black taxis start the meter at Tk 15 while yellow taxis are a little nicer and start at Tk 20. Black taxis are typically in notoriously poor condition and lack air conditioning. Yellow taxis are required to have air conditioning, (they consist of Toyota Corollas mostly, Mitsubishis or Hondas even). They are also considered far safer by the local Dhaka elite. (when compared to black taxis and auto-rickshaws).
Buses run routes on the main roads, but are horribly crowded and noisy, signed only in Bengali and aren't likely to be of much use to travelers. Save yourself a headache and take a rickshaw or if u go to far distance, take a comfortable, luxurious A/C bus or a train!!
Places to See
There is the stunning Parliament Building, designed by Louis Kahn, numerous bookshops, and art galleries around the city, Ramna Park, Lal Bagh Fort and museum, Old Dhaka, the Shahid Minar memorial, the Shadarghat port, Ahsan Manjil, the National Museum, Bangabandhu Memorial, the Mukti Juddha Museum, National Poet's Graveyard, Suhrawardy Uddyaan, National Leader Mausoleum, Banga-Bhaban, Shadhinota Stambha, the Charukola (Arts & Crafts) Institute, Curzon Hall, Old High Court and 1857 Memorial, the National Zoo, the Botanical Gardens, Baldha Garden, Sitara Mosque, Baitul Mukarram Mosque, Hindu and Christian churches and temples, New Market, Boshundhara City Mall, countless other bustling bazaars and shops, and many other places to visit.
Ahsan Manjil, the pink palace, has a 2 taka entrance fee and a small exhibition about the history of the palace and a garden. Star Mosque (Sitara Mosque) is a small mosque dating back three hundred years, inlaid with mosaic and tiles. 'Shishu Mela' is the children playground in Shyamoli.
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Never travel outside of dhaka.
Favorite thing: If you are a foreiginer never try outside of dhaka. I did some adventure of going to Jamuna resorts.. It was an horrible experience.. I dont know abt chittagong. the locals say its good.. but after Jamuna bridge resort I decided I will stay in dhaka only...
Fondest memory: Going in cycle rikshaw.... specially when it rains as the car and auto rikshaw stops running...
Drik Photo Agency
Favorite thing: Dhaka is not really the place you'd expect to find one of the world's best up-and-coming photo agencies (surely they should be in Paris or somewhere?!) but here they are anyway!
'Drik' is a Sanskrit word meaning 'vision' and it has established itself as probably the major picture library and collective of photographers dealing with the 'majority world' - usually known in disparaging terms as the Third or Developing world - where a huge percentage of the world lives yet gets very little media coverage.
Drik has done some great work with social issues and human rights in Bangladesh and elsewhere, but of most interest to VT readers is probably their incredible photos. One of the founders, Shahidul Alam, also chairs the World Press Photo jury, one of the biggest prizes in international photo-journalism.
So to see some great pics of Bangladesh, and elsewhere in the world, you can check out a small sample of their work at www.drik.net
- Arts and Culture
Flooding in the streets of Dhaka
Fondest memory: We were there during severe flooding in much of the nation. Since Dhaka is higher in elevation than the surrounding area, (by only 50 ft) the population of the city doubled within a few days as people migrated from their homes. Although very crowded, the people remained calm and civil to each other.
Founded in 1608 as the seat of...
Favorite thing: Founded in 1608 as the seat of the Mughal viceroys of Bengal and known world over for centuries for its fine muslin, Dhaka has now grown into a bustling city of over 5 million people and serves as the nation's capital. Some of its outstanding ancient monuments are Lalbagh Fort (built in 1678 AD), Paribibi's Tomb (1678 AD), Bara Katra, Hussaini Dalan, Star Mosque, Satgambuz (seven-domed) Mosque (1680 AD) and Dhakeswari Temple. The Central Shaheed Minar commemorates the martyrs of the historic language movement of 1952. Bahadur Shah Park guards the memorial for the heroes of Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. The National Museum houses an excellent collection of archaeological finds, sculptures and paintings. Architectural trends, both traditional and contemporary, are reflected in Curzon Hall, old High Court and new Supreme Court buildings, Gano Bhavan and Banga Bhavan, Parliament House and Baitul Mukarram Mosque. The National. Memorial at Savar commemorating the martyrs of the liberation war of 1971, stands out with its own uniqueness.
The neighbourhood of Dhaka also claims attention for its rich heritage. The ruins of the old seats of power at Vikrampur (7th century AD) and Sonargaon (1 Oth century AD), only an hour's drive, are worth visiting. Shopping around can get you excellent bargains. And who can miss the famous pink pearls of Dhaka ?
Dhaka, formerly Dacca, is the capital and largest city of Bangladesh. It is located in the geographic center of the country in the great deltaic region of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. The population, which is largely Muslim, is 3,300,000 (1989 est.). Dhaka is served by the port of Narayanganj, located 16 km (10 mi) to the southeast. The city is within the monsoon climate zone, with an annual average temperature of 25 deg C (77 deg F) and monthly means varying between 18 deg C (64 deg F) in January and 29 deg C (84 deg F) in August. Nearly 80% of the annual average rainfall of 1,854 mm (73 in) occurs between May and September.
Dhaka is located in one of the world's leading rice- and jute-growing regions. Its industries include textiles (jute, muslin, cotton) and food processing, especially rice milling. A variety of other consumer goods are also manufactured here. The Muslim influence is reflected in the more than 700 mosques and historic buildings found throughout the city. Dhaka is divided into an old city, a modern section called Ramne, and many residential and industrial communities. The University of Dhaka (1921) and several technical schools and museums are located here.
Dhaka was founded during the 10th century. It served as the Mogul capital of Bengal from 1608 to 1704 and was a trading center for British, French, and Dutch interests before coming under British rule in 1765. In 1905 it was again named the capital of Bengal, and in 1956 it became the capital of East Pakistan. The city suffered heavy damage during the Bangladesh war of independence (1971). The romanized spelling of the Bengali name was changed from Dacca to Dhaka in 1982.
Visit the building of the...
Favorite thing: Visit the building of the Dhaka Parliament, which is a magnificient sight to see in the sunset from the outside - armed guards forbid even to take pictures, but you may manage from a distance with a zoom-camera.
Fondest memory: Hospitality of the local people - my guide not only insisted giving me a free ride to and from the airport in his air-conditioned car, but also arranged a 'baby-taxi', a kind of motor-driven rickshaw for sight-seeing.
Visit the old part of Dhaka...
Favorite thing: Visit the old part of Dhaka aka Old Dhaka. This is where you'll find some of the few remaining historical sites in a city that's bustling with people and laden with new buildings and constructions.
Fondest memory: The wilderness, the open fields, tranquility of remote villages, bulging rivers teeming with life, butterflies, butterflies, butterflies. The city has since changed but there are still places like that.
Road to Murapara
Favorite thing: cool place! i ever seen
Fondest memory: My kids were interested to see angels as they watched a telefilm with angels (in bengali "PORI"). so we were looking for PORI!
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