Dhaka isn’t one of those quaint little places where you’ll expect to spend a nice, relaxing vacation. The capital city of Bangladesh, bustling with almost 17 million people, Dhaka has the capability of redefining chaos. A ton of people, loads of traffic jams and a whole lot of hustle and bustle. Quite intimidating, and definitely a culture shock for a first-time visitor, to say the least.
But behind the overwhelming crowds, the dizzying madness of traffic, and the crazy confusion-laden streets, hides charm that no other city in the world can offer. From the moment you hop onto one of the famously colourful, old school rickshaws that ply the street (fun fact: there are an estimated 1 million of these rickshaws in Bangladesh, and Dhaka is considered to be the rickshaw capital of the world!), to when you take a boat ride on the serene Buriganga river, Dhaka is a place that will enchant and allure.
There’s a lot to do in a city like Dhaka, and here are some areas you can focus on:
This chaotic city which was a part of pre-independence India still has visible traits of British influence in its architecture. Attractions such as the Ahsan Manzil (the pink palace), the Lalbagh Fort and Dhakeshwari temple will leave you in awe – the architecture and the rich history that encapsulates these places is stunning.
The half completed Lalbagh Fort is best experienced in the morning light, as your soak in the freshness of the gardens that surround the fort, while the pink palace is a snapshot into the life of the city’s wealthiest zamindar Abdul Ghani, who built his home on an old French factory site.
Some of the structures like Dhakeshwari temple are over 1200 years old, while others like the Star Mosque and Khan Mohammad Mridha Mosque showcase the Mughal heritage that is so much a part of Dhaka’s history. The Star Mosque in particular, is an awe-inspiring mosaic masterpiece, with motifs of stars (and interestingly enough, motifs of Mount Fuji as well) dominating the décor both inside and outside.
Dhaka has a pop-art culture that amalgamates the modern world with that of the old school. Art galleries such as the Dhaka Art Center, Gallery Jolrong, Athena Gallery of Fine Arts and many more will have you wanting more!
Street art is prevalent throughout the city and if you’re a photo-enthusiast, you might find yourself lost in your own world capturing these urban canvases. The world’s longest alpona (a type of sacred art done on auspicious occasions) was actually painted onto Manik Mia Avenue, a main stretch of road, for the Bengali New Year in 2012. It measured 1 kilometre long, used up 3600 litres of paint, and took over 200 artists 6 hours to paint!
In terms of music, Dhaka has an interesting mix of genres that it is known for, and no, not all of them are traditional. From raucous Bangla rock to throbbing electronic beats, the music scene here is thriving, with many music events held at hip places like Jatra Biroti, a rooftop art and music lounge. The annual Dhaka Jazz Blues Festival brings together world class musicians from all over the globe for three days of the best performances, so be sure to bookmark those dates and plan your travels accordingly.
Classical dance forms like Monipuri and Santal are practiced widely in the city. If you want to experience a local drama performance, then be sure to head down to Baily Road. Street plays are regularly held here, hence rightfully earning it the nickname of ‘Natak Soroni’, or the Theatre Street.
One of the most hospitable nations of the Arabian Peninsula, Jordan has been welcoming visitors since Roman times. There is beauty everywhere you look – in the cobbled streets of markets, in sipping tea with local merchants and the magnificent ancient city of Petra.
There is something quite inexplicable about how Petra makes you feel like you’re just a small part of the world. It is a stunning reminder of what the world once was, and how far we’ve come. Perfect for those who love historical adventures, Petra has ancient carvings, prehistoric rock formations and cobbled streets that ooze old-world charm.