The southern part of Dhaka, near the river is the old core of the city.
Here is Lalbagh Fort, began in 1678 by prince Azam, son of the Mughal Emperor.
Bangladesh was under the Mughal domination for more than a century, when most of the people had been converted to Islam.
Staying at a hotel or near a fancy restaurant you will inevitably see crowds attending weddings during the right season.
If the party managers spot you and you seem to be an ok person, the chances are you will be invited to the wedding. Go!
You'll get to meet the bride and the groom and the extended family, too.
The small rowing boats used at the Rangamati reservoir are seemingly miniatures of the larger ocean-going sailing vessles used in Bangldesh. They look very sturdy and safe. The way they are being rowed is also interesting; the rower faces forward, standing and more or less pushes with the oars, not pulls as one normally does. A sort of Bangladeshi gondola? Good for boating trips on the reservoir, too.
Ever know which is the rickshaw capital of the world? Yes, its Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. Despite the sophistication, more than 3,00,000 rickshaws brightly-painted and decorated run in its streets adding to the traffic jam.
Early, early monring, go down to the Cox's Bazaar harbour and watch the sea fishermen come in with their catch. There are some amazing catches coming in. I was lucky to see this guitar fish of about 2 1/2 meters' length being hauled out of the boat.
Just south of the town of Comilla there is an interesting Hindu temple in the Bengali style. The interior is very gaudy, kitsch-like in the modern fashion of Bengali Hindus, but the site obviously harbours tradition and the gaudily painted gods don't repel but retain an air of ancient beliefs and philosophy. The local resident Brahmin and his pupils were very forthcoming and accommodating. I had the benefit of knowing some local Hindus, but other unaccompanied visitors appeared welcome, too.
Go to Old Dhaka to experience what a crowd is like. Bring your camera, some small cash and a smile. You'll get stuck, and you'll get many new friends. You can visit some snack and street food stalls, have a tea, and just experiencing the swirling humanity around you as you try to move towards Sadarghat. Rickshaw and car traffic jams here may take hours to clear.
You'll witness how ingenious people are at eeking out a living in all sorts of niches of the human existence.
If there is one thing that Bangladesh is famous for, it's the people. All of them, and the individuals. The Bengalis are diverse, wonderful, expressive and beautiful. Apart from the Bengali majority there are other groups, too, that only adds to the experience.
Peoplewatching is fascinating here, and if you find an unobtrusive place to watch from, you'll have emotions and entertainment streaming by the whole day.
If you get close to people and they appreciate your presence and your camera, you may be getting some good pictures, too. But send copies to them if you promise so, the postal system in Bangladesh works surprisingly well.
Compared to the cities of Bnagladesh, the countryside and small villages offer a calm and quiet and tranquility that is very soothing to the soul. You would have missed Bangladesh - the real Bangladesh - if you did not see the tatched houses inbetween the paddy fields and fish tanks. Go do it!
Every one of the millions of rickshaws in Bangladesh is decorated with paintings depicting romantic scenes and versions of physical paradises.
Some is plain kitsch, other stuff may be worth a closer study and is real art.
If you turn right on your way down to Sadarghat in Dhaka, just before the harbour area you will find the rickshaw painters' areas and workshops. You can also buy a panel with real rickshaw art.
If you have a deeper interest, read the book Chasing Rickshaws from Lonely Planet.
There is a ship yard for building wooden, traditional boats on the Karnaphuli River along the way from the city centre toward the airport.
Interesting to see how they are made, well worth a stop and a closer look at this wooden boatbuilder tradition.
Cox's Bazaar harbour must be one of the most facinating in Bangladesh. It has immediate access to the salt water sea off the delta and the fish catch brought in here is very diverse. It is also a ferry harbor with ships and smaller boats plying the islands to the north and along the inner channel to Chittagong. Small boat repairs and maintenance happens inbetween all this activity and adds to making this harbour worthy an early morning visit, when the activity is at a peak.
Early in the morning the fish catch is landed at the Cox's Bazaar harbour. It is worthwhile getting up early to see what (used to) move about underwater, and what you can expect to see pn the menue of the day.
Near Comilla (8 km), and conveniently located near the Chittagong-Dhaka highway are the ruins of an ancient civilization.
This was an early Buddhist culture, and was rediscovered during 2nd world war when troops were making defence positions against a possible Japanese invasion here (they came very near).
Located near and partly on a long ridge in the otherwise pancake-flat landscape, the site must have been very prominent at its heydays in the 6th-13th century , with large religious and civilian structures. A museum shows many of the artifacts and mentally reconstructs the site for you if you just take your time here. There were many fine exhibits from a time when Norwegians had just invented living in caves... Museums can be a disappointment to me, but this one wasn't bad at all, even if obviously short of funds.
The walk around the 8th century ruins of Salban Vihara monastery (photo) was very nice and I'll be happy to come back for a more indepth study. I did not see the ruins inside the military cantonment, but thay are accessible, too.
After the visit you can walk up to the long ridge of Mainimati-Lalmai, about the only "mountain" sticking up from the Bangladeshi plains outside the eastern and northern border areas with India. There are some picnic facilities and some local-tourists-aimed souvenir stalls and cold drinks/snack shops as you enter the site.
The best way to avoid the rush of Dhaka is to leave as soon as possible - the city is not a particularily attractive destination though there is a wealth of mosques to visit and the markets are great for a few bargains. A trip I enjoyed very much was taking the paddle boat to Khulna. The boats are vintage paddle steamers - left overs from the British Raj - that ply their way rather ungracefully up and down the tremendous river network of Bangladesh . The trip takes anything from 20 hours to 24 hours, depending on the state of the rivers, and is a wonderful way of exploring the Sundarbans, seeing the river life. It is also possible to hire a boat or join a trip through the Sundarbans from Khulna to Kuakata and Heron Point, where there is a guest bungalow and plenty of wildlife to be seen. The steamers are called "Rocket"s and offer a variety of classes on board.
After a bad experience with the Sheraton last time this place is excellent. Great location...more
Kalatoli Beach Road, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh
Good for: Couples
Let's face it - I wouldn't have stayed here if I was paying!! The place is great - it is relatively...more