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Blick auf die Skyline von Dhala, Bild: Social Media Hub / shutterstock

Dhaka, a holiday destination with a difference


Dhaka thrives on contrasts and is so very different from most holiday destinations you know. Country and people, culture and weather, simply everything is different, exciting and new. You simply have to experience it yourself to realize that you will come back.

Bangladesh, an unusual holiday destination

Bangladesh is far less well-known than its big neighbour. This Southeast Asian state also borders the Bay of Bengal, a part of the Indian Ocean, and thus has around 580 kilometers of coastline. The climate is subtropical, so visitors can expect 25°C in January, while the rest of the year it is 30°C and warmer.
The country is about half the size of our Federal Republic, but twice as many people live there as here. The population consists largely of people of Muslim faith, which is also reflected in art and culture.

So far, Bangladesh has been one of the countries that has been spared from mass tourism. However, this is by no means to say that a trip there would not be worthwhile. In addition to numerous cultural and historical sights, Bangladesh offers many impressive natural spectacles. The wildlife is particularly interesting. Among the most exotic for us are monkeys, elephants, bears, leopards and the Bengal tiger, various amphibians and reptiles. The capital of Bangladesh is the city of Dhaka, which has a population of millions.

Dhaka – a lively, contrasting metropolis without mass tourism

Lalbagh Fort, Dhaka
Red Garden Fortress (Lalbagh Fort), Image: Social Media Hub / shutterstock

Dhaka is only about six meters above sea level. This means that every year between May and September, parts of the city are flooded by the monsoon storms.
The Buriganga River, 18 kilometers long and 8 meters deep, divides the city. Here alone you get a first impression that everything is different from ours: A bustle and swarm of paddle steamers, excursion boats and ferries as well as small barges on which traders offer typical fruits, but unfortunately also a lot of waste characterize the picture. In addition, the countless rickshaws that torment their way through the crowded streets as transporters of people and goods, as well as the interesting markets, are part of the traditional, colorful and loud hustle and bustle of the city.

The many, often magnificent mosques and palaces from the 17th century that stand in the old town and the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban, the modern building complex of the national parliament, is another side of Dhaka, rich in contrasts.

As a global trading center for textiles, jute and other important goods, Dhaka has access to the Indian Sea as well as several ports. Dhaka is a thoroughly colorful and contrasting metropolis that you have to get to know and love.

Must-have lakes in Dhaka

Of course, everyone sets their individual priorities for what they want to see on their holiday trip, but there are some things that should not be missed. The following are the “must-have lake sights” that every Dhaka traveler should have on their list:

Pure blaze of colour and contrast programme

You can’t escape the hustle and bustle on the streets and on the water. For us Central Europeans a very special experience, because here it means experiencing with all the senses, as not only the eyes, but also the ears and nose are challenged. Whether you like it or not, you just have to experience it!

The architecture of Dhaka offers a true contrast. In addition to modern skyscrapers, you will find historic buildings from the Islamic Mughal period, i.e. from the years between 1526 and 1858.

A world of its own within Dhaka

Jatiyo Sriti Shoudho, Dhaka
Jatiyo Sriti Shoudho, Image: Social Media Hub / shutterstock

A very extraordinary atmosphere can be experienced at the bustling bazaars, markets and shopping streets. Old Dhaka, the old town, is a city within the city. Here, almost every craft has its own quarter. For example, there are confectionery manufactory or jewellery streets. Vegetable wholesalers, on the other hand, have their warehouses down at the port. Hindu Street is home to a gigantic and popular historic market that you should experience at least once. Here you will find exotic crafts such as gravestone manufacturers or drum makers. And here you can buy almost everything you need or don’t need.

By no means should you dare to get behind the wheel yourself in this area, because this type of traffic volume is not comparable to anything we have. The best way to be chauffeured is in a rickshaw or taxi.

Particularly noteworthy neighborhoods

South of the old town is the aforementioned harbour district, which is lively almost around the clock. Here you will also find the shipyard and main pier, the Sadarghat. Whether from the Ahsan Manzil Palace or right in the middle of it, you should take your time to watch the hustle and bustle.

British City or “European Quarter” is the name of the part in the north of Dhaka. Here you will find the Banga Bhavan, the Presidential Palace, the National Museum and the Dhakeswari Temple as well as several parks.

It is very modern not only in the north but also in the east of the city. Gulshan and Motijheel are a diplomatic and business district, respectively. Particularly noteworthy here are the Ghana Bhavan Parliament Building and the Dhaka Exhibition Fair Building.

Museum & Public Buildings

If you are interested in the history, folkloric art and culture of the country, the National Museum is a must. Architecture enthusiasts, on the other hand, will find interesting buildings in many places. The typical Mughal style can be seen very well at the official residence palace of the president, the Banga Bhavan. The Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban, the national parliament of Dhaka, on the other hand, is a very modern building. It is considered one of the largest parliament buildings in the world.

From an architectural point of view, the university on College Road offers something extraordinary. An almost fairytale sight here is provided by the Curzon Hall. Renaissance style can be found at the court. At night, you can also experience a kind of open-air market in the adjacent park.

Interesting places of worship

Dhaka is also called the “City of Mosques” in some places, which is not surprising since the vast majority of the inhabitants belong to Islam. Particularly noteworthy are the Khan Mohammed Mirdhas Mosque, which can be reached via 25 steps and dates back to 1706, as well as the modern Baitul Mukarram Mosque in the style of the Holy Ka’aba of Mecca. The Sitara Mosque scores with elaborate, colored glass mosaic decorations. The Sat Gumbad Mosque, built in 1680, looks almost like something out of 1001 Nights. When visiting a mosque, you should definitely adapt to the strict regulations. Unfortunately, not all of them are always accessible to non-Muslims.

The most famous and probably oldest Hindu temple in Dhaka, the Dhakeshwari Temple, is dedicated to the ten-armed goddess Dhakeshwari, probably the namesake of the city. Here you can watch the holy men, the sadhus, meditating and smoking ganja, the cannabis.

A special, large bronze statue and a marble statue of Buddha can be admired in Bangladesh’s largest Buddhist central center, the Dharmarajikha Buddhist Monastery.

Fortress & Palace

Construction of the Lalbagh Fort began in 1677, but it has not yet been completed. From here you have a fantastic view of Dhaka. This impressive fortress has three entrance gates and is surrounded by a wall more than 1.30 meters thick. It houses a large visitor or conference hall, the Quilla Mosque, the Mausoleum of Pari Bibi, a water reservoir and a small museum.

The pink Ahsan Manzil is worth seeing both from the outside and inside. This magnificent neoclassical building was once the residence of the historic ruler, the Nawab of Dhaka. Today it houses a museum that tells about the former life of the Nawab families. You can also enjoy a breathtaking view over the Buriganga River and Sadarghat Harbour from here.

Parks & Animal Parks

Dhaka, local life
Local life in Dhaka, Image: Jono Photography / shutterstock

The Baldha Gardens are home to around 1,500 plants of 672 species from 50 different countries. A special feast for the eyes is the Egyptian papyrus plant.
About 16 kilometers from the center is the Mirpur Zoo. It is home to about 100 species of animals. Probably the best-known animal is the Bengal tiger, which lives in southern Bangladesh. The Botanical Garden is equidistant away. Here, peace and relaxation are the order of the day on 40 hectares. Almost 100 species of native and foreign plants as well as various bird species help to switch off.

What else can you do?

If you want to shop, you will find the gigantic shopping center “Bashundhara City” with about 2,500 shops near the Karwan Bazaar.

For those seeking relaxation, Ramna Park or Dhanmondi Lake are available. Strolling, looking and enjoying are the order of the day here. Of course, you can take a harbour tour with one of the excursion boats or boats.

The country’s good infrastructure also allows you to have a little fun outside the city. How about a trip to the Rajendrapur National Park, about 50 kilometers away.