This post was last updated on July 26th, 2016
With its more than 15 million residents, Dhaka is the largest city in Bangladesh and the ninth-largest city in the world. It’s known for its mosques, rickshaw drivers and thriving modern art scene. This rapidly-growing capital city occupies a central place in Bangladeshi cultural and economic life.
Dhaka has much to offer the holidaymaker, from historic sites to some of the region’s best art museums and galleries. Stroll through the National Botanical Garden of Bangladesh, visit the Dhaka Zoo or travel back in time to the days of the Mughal kings at Lalbagh Fort. Visit Expedia to find centrally located Dhaka hotels.
Construction began on this never-completed Mughal fort in 1678, at the behest of Mughal Subahdar Muhammad Azam Shah. He was the son of Emperor Aurangzeb and eventually ascended to his father’s throne. Seasoned travellers recommend visiting Lalbagh Fort in the morning, when the ethereal quality of the light lends it a certain melancholy ambiance.
National Botanical Garden of Bangladesh
The National Botanical Garden of Bangladesh is the largest centre for plant conservation in the country. Its 84 hectares are situated next to the Dhaka Zoo. Here you can see a collection comprised of at least 56,000 individual specimens, including exotic and rare species like rabbit fern, camphor, white rangan, African tulip tree, little mussanda and white chandan.
Bangabandhu Memorial Museum
Here, the home of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Father of the Nation, is preserved for posterity. He was arrested at this residence on the night of 26 March 1971, on the eve of the civil war leading to the liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistan. Since 1997, the museum has showcased a rare collection of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s photographs and personal possessions.
Art Institute Dhaka
For 50 years, Bangladeshi artists working with the Art Institute Dhaka have married concepts from Bangladeshi folk culture with the techniques of the West, creating an effective training space for new generations of Bangladeshi artists. The Art Institute presently enrols around 120 students in its Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts programs. Some of the nation’s preeminent artists teach here.
Liberation War Museum
The Liberation War Museum, which opened on 22 March 1996, commemorates the Bangladeshi war of independence from Pakistan. The museum possesses over 10,000 artefacts related to the Bangladesh Liberation War. The exhibits offer information on the early history of Bangladesh, the Language Movement and the Indian independence movement.
Bangladesh National Museum
The Bangladesh National Museum is one of the largest museums of its kind in the region. The collections of the National Museum include prehistoric artefacts as well as works of ancient and contemporary art. Here you’ll find sculptures crafted from wood, metal and stone, treasures from antiquity, items of decorative art and an extensive collection of modern art.
The Baldha Garden, established in 1904, spans about 1.3 hectares of land in Old Dhaka. It’s among the oldest gardens of its type in Bangladesh. Home to at least 150,000 plants from more than 670 species and more than 50 countries, the garden may be the nation’s most diverse plant collection. Many of the plants and flowers here are rare or exotic. The Baldha Garden is known for its extensive collection of roses, orchids and aroids, and for its Agave americana, or “century plant,” which blooms only once every hundred years.
The Dhaka Zoo houses over 2,000 animals from over 165 species. Here you can see elephants, cheetahs, otters, hyenas, black bears, lions, apes, zebras, giraffes, hippos and more. There are 1,500 birds of at least 90 species in the aviary, including peacocks, emus, finches, owls, eagles, African grey parrots and cassowaries.
Sadarghat Port on the Dhaka City River Front is among the world’s largest river ports. Here you can see at least 200 boats arrive and depart from the port each day. Fifty thousand people come and go from Sadarghat Port daily.
Banga Bazar is a favourite shopping location among locals and holidaymakers alike. Here you can buy the garments made locally for export at a deeply discounted price, although some of the clothes may have small flaws that disqualify them for export. Expect to practice your haggling.
The large, bustling city of Dhaka is among the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the world. Visit the Dhaka Zoo, stroll through one of the city’s rich botanical gardens, or bargain for a good deal at the Banga Bazar.
Lalbagh Fort image by Tanweer drmc from Wikimedia Commons
Bangladesh National Museum image by Sourav Das from Wikimedia Commons
About the Author: Contributing blogger Akanksha Barad is an avid traveller who has written for several travel blogs and websites.