Dhaka

Ruled by a succession of Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim dynasties before passing to the British, Dhaka has always been a crucial city, due to its strategic location on the confluence of two rivers. With 17 million inhabitants, modern-day Dhaka is one of the mega-cities of Asia and among the top fifty most densely populated cities in the world. Due to its numerous rickshaws, Dhaka has earned the moniker "Rickshaw Capital of the World", and many of these bright, colorful craft can often be seen darting in and out of heavily congested traffic.

Given Dhaka's long past, the city is a treasure trove of historic sites and cultural treasures; chief among them are the rambling, crowded streets of Old Dhaka; the ornate Tara Masjid, or Star Mosque; and Lalbagh Fort, the commanding, sprawling structure that served as a symbol of Mughal might and hegemony over the region.

Ruled by a succession of Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim dynasties before passing to the British, Dhaka has always been a crucial city, due to its strategic location on the confluence of two rivers. With 17 million inhabitants, modern-day Dhaka is one of the mega-cities of Asia and among the top fifty most densely populated cities in the world. Due to its numerous rickshaws, Dhaka has earned the moniker "Rickshaw Capital of the World", and many of these bright, colorful craft can often be seen darting in and out of heavily congested traffic.

Given Dhaka's long past, the city is a treasure trove of historic sites and cultural treasures; chief among them are the rambling, crowded streets of Old Dhaka; the ornate Tara Masjid, or Star Mosque; and Lalbagh Fort, the commanding, sprawling structure that served as a symbol of Mughal might and hegemony over the region.

Experiences

Lalbagh Fort

Go to Lalbagh Fort, an unfinished fort dating from 1678, when Dhaka was the regional seat of the Mughal viceroys. Though the fort was never completed, recent excavations and renovations have restored its imposing fortifications and ornamental gates. Several of the interior buildings remain, including a mosque, tombs, an audience hall and the hammam (or Turkish-style bathhouse).

Microfinance

Visit a number of projects supported by the Grameen Bank and its founder Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning economist who was instrumental in the development of microcredit financing — the extension of small loans to individuals or organizations who do not qualify for a traditional loan. If Mr. Yunus is available, meet with him and discuss with him his economic philosophy and the vital changes it has brought about in Bangladesh.

National Assembly Building

Visit the stunning National Assembly Building (Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban), designed by world-renowned American architect Louis Khan. Planned with both contemporary architecture and the aesthetic history of the region in mind, the massive stone building combines clean lines and forms with the monumental feel of a Mughal fort.

National Museum

Visit the National Museum, home to an excellent collection of sculpture from Bangladesh’s Hindu, Buddhist and Mughal past, as well as an extensive collection of folk art. A curator will take you on a personal tour of the highlights of the collection.

Old Dhaka

Explore the old city, which runs along the waterfront, and dates from the Mughal Empire, when Dhaka was an important regional trading center. Witness the bustling river life of the Buriganga, where floating merchants ply their trades and people from all walks of life queue for the riverboats bound for other cities in this riverine country.

Rickshaw Tour

Tour through the city by cycle rickshaw. Rickshaws are the most popular form of transportation in the Dhaka; there are some 400,000 on the streets, and are typically brightly painted with a riot of images drawn from nature, history, or popular films. Visit a workshop where rickshaws are painted and meet the artists behind these fanciful designs.

Tara Masjid

Visit the beautiful Star Mosque, or Tara Masjid, in the old city. The mosque’s five domes, porticos and pillars are decorated with hundreds of large and small stars, created by setting pieces of china on white cement. In bright sunlight, this brilliant combination is quite striking and can give the building the effect of floating above the ground. The inside is just as lovely – covered with floral motifs and passages in Arabic calligraphy picked out in the same unusual style of mosaic, known as Chini Tikri.

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