Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Overview Dhaka

The capital city of Dhaka, gateway to Bangladesh for most international visitors, is a colorful and thriving metropolis of some 12 million people. Bangladesh is one of the most crowded countries in the world, with millions of people crammed into a small area, and most of them seem to fill the streets of the pleasant capital city, making even a short walk along the road an exercise in bumping into people and then apologising. Dhaka bears an exciting history and rich culture. Known all over the world as the city of mosques and rickshaws, it has attracted travellers from far and near through the ages. According to recorded history it was founded in 1608 A.D. as the seat of the imperial Mughal viceroy of Bengal. Having a splendoured blending of old and new architectural trends, Dhaka has been developing fast as a modern city and is vibrating with activities in all spheres of life. It is the centre of industrial, commercial, cultural, educational and political activities for Bangladesh. Motijheel is the main commercial area of the city. Dhaka's main waterfront sadarghat is on the bank of the river Buriganga and is crowded with all kinds of river craft, yachts, country-boats, motor launches, paddle steamers, fishermen's boats all bustling with activity. Colorful rickshaws (tricycle) on the city streets are common attractions for the visitors. The city of Dhaka is about as developed as it gets in Bangladesh, and visitors are instantly surprised by the ceaseless flow of motorized traffic flooding, and infact saturating the streets. The only place to really stock up on essentials if you're touring the rest of the country, as well as being a fascinating place in its own right, a visit to Bangladesh is almost like stepping into a time warp back to a simpler era, whereas the capital, Dhaka has clearly avoided that time warp, keeping well ahead of the rest of the country, so much so as to be nearly at par with cities like Mumbai. You can get cheap deals on flights to Dhaka throughout the year, and once there, the cost of living is amongst the lowest in the world, making Dhaka, and Bangladesh as a whole amongst the best value destinations in the world. Dhaka is friendly and relatively clean in the posh areas, though it is nearly always oversaturated with people of all walks of life. Just be aware of the rickshaws in the Old City. There are many sights to attract visitors. The most important sights are the Lalbagh Fort, the National Assembly Building, the Baitul Mukkaram Mosque,National museum,Savar smiti saudo,shahid minar, national gardens, zoo and many more. When you are staying a bit longer, the many markets in town are absolutely worth a visit as well. From the 'miniature' shopping malls that have popped up prettymuch all over posh areas like Gulshan, Banani Baridhara, Dhanmondi etc. to the tourists favorite Bongobazar and New Market, where things are cheaper than your wildest imaginations. And if you are to visit dhaka, make sure you find accomodation in mentioned areas (Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara, Dhanmondi), possibly at one of the many hotels there which provide pleasantly well service. Dining too is delightful there with an array of eateries all over Gulshan and Banani, with its famous road no. 11 literally lined up end to end with places to grab a bite and thoroughly enjoy it. Though lacking a proper nightlife, places like the American Club, Dhaka Club, Uttara Club, Gulshan Club and a handfull of bars are always there with regular events. Alcohol too, contrary to popular belief, is readily available at any good hotel or resthouse, or at the bars(though there are not many) like Kozmo. If you are not sure, just ask the locals. They are surprisingly helpful in these matters. Many Bangladeshis only understand limited English such as basic affirmatives, negatives, and some numbers. Learning some basic Bengali ahead of your trip will prove very useful. Two centuries of British colonisation lead people to identify most foreigners as either British or American, and to view them with curiosity. The first question you will probably be asked is "What is your country ?" (Desh kothay? in Bangla). If hawkers or rickshaw wallahs are overzealous, "Amar dorkar nay" or "Lagbey nah" mean "No thanks." If you don't wish to give money to the beggars and other unfortunates, "Amar bangti nay" means "I have no change". In general, people are friendly to foreigners. As with many other South Asian countries, dress conservatively, or in the local dress. The latter will make one more accessible to local hearts and minds. Most Bangladeshis are religious but secular points of view are not uncommon, and the general population is religiously liberal.

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