Must see attractions in Dhaka

  • Sights in Dhaka

    Sadarghat

    Running calmly through the centre of Old Dhaka, the Buriganga River is the muddy artery of Dhaka and the very lifeblood of both this city and the nation. Exploring it from the deck of a small boat from Sadarghat (shod-or-ghat) is to see Bangladesh at its grittiest. The panorama of river life is fascinating. Triple-towered ferries leer over pint-sized canoes, and country boats bump against overladen barges with barely an inch of clearance above water.

  • Sights in Dhaka

    Shankharia Bazar

    Clouds of incense and a bursting paintbox of colours signal a welcome to so-called Hindu Street. Lined on either side with old houses, garlands of lurid orange marigolds, and dark doorways leading to matchbox-sized shops and workshops, this can be an extremely photogenic part of Old Dhaka, as the shankharis (Hindu artisans) , whose ancestors came here over 300 years ago, busy themselves creating kites, gravestones, wedding hats and bangles carved out of conch shells.

  • Sights in Dhaka

    National Museum

    The excellent National Museum, sprawling over several floors, begins with the geological formation of Bangladesh, whisks you through a rundown of the nation’s flora and fauna, saunters through a Buddhist and Hindu past, and brings you up to date with the War of Liberation and the creation of the modern state. Highlights include lively 6th century terracotta Hindu plaques, Buddhist statuary, vignettes of village life and the 'how did they get it inside?' wooden river racing boat.

  • Sights in Dhaka

    Lalbagh Fort

    The half-completed Lalbagh Fort and its well-tended gardens are an excuse to escape Old Dhaka’s hustle and bustle for an hour or so. The fort is particularly atmospheric in the early morning light. Construction began in 1677 under the direction of Prince Mohammed Azam, Emperor Aurangzeb's third son, although he handed it to Shaista Khan for completion. However, the death of Khan’s daughter, Pari Bibi (Fair Lady), was considered such a bad omen that the fort was never completed.

  • Sights in Dhaka

    Ahsan Manzil

    Dating from 1872, the must-see Pink Palace was built on the site of an old French factory by Nawab Abdul Ghani, the city’s wealthiest zamindar (landowner). Some 16 years after the palace’s construction, it was damaged by a tornado, then altered during restoration, becoming even grander than before. Lord Curzon stayed here whenever he was in town.

  • Sights in Dhaka

    Botanical Gardens

    The shady, tranquil botanical gardens, stretch over 40 hectares and contain over 1000 species of local and foreign plants, as well as lots of birdlife that flock to its several lakes and ponds (particularly in winter). Some way from the centre of Dhaka, it’s a nice respite from the city’s mass of humanity. In the distance you’ll see the Turag River.

  • Sights in Dhaka

    Liberation War Museum

    Housed in a beautiful whitewashed colonial-era building, this small museum chronicles the 1971 War of Independence, one of the 20th century’s more deadly wars. Though it might not make for happy holidays, this museum is a useful stop for those hoping to understand modern Bangladesh. The shaded courtyard out back has a tea stall and a small stage where cultural events are held from time to time. There’s also a small bookshop.

  • Sights in Dhaka

    National Assembly Building

    In 1963 the Pakistanis commissioned Louis Kahn, a world-renowned American architect, to design a regional capitol for East Pakistan. Due to the liberation movement and ensuing war, the National Assembly Building wasn’t completed until 1982. The building often features in books on modern architecture, and is regarded as among Kahn’s finest works. It’s a huge assembly of concrete cylinders and rectangular boxes, sliced open with bold, multi-storey circular and triangular apertures instead of windows.

  • Sights in Dhaka

    Dhakeswari Temple

    Dhakeshwari Temple is the centre of the Hindu faith in Bangladesh. It is dedicated to Dhakeswari, the protector of Dhaka and an incarnation of the goddess Durga. Although modern in construction, there has been a temple on this spot for nine centuries. Visitors are welcome at any time (remove shoes on entering).

  • Sights in Dhaka

    Dhaka University

    Dating from 1921, Dhaka University, or just DU, has some fine old buildings. The architectural masterpiece is the red-brick Curzon Hall, a highly impressive example of the European-Mughal style of building erected after the first partition of Bengal in 1905. Local students will often approach you to chat if you're wandering the grounds.

  • Sights in Dhaka

    Curzon Hall

    The quasi-Gothic red-brick Curzon Hall, erected in 1905 after the first partition of Bengal is Dhaka University's architectural masterpiece. It's a highly impressive example of the European-Mughal style of building favoured by the British. It's main hall today is used as a grand setting for university exams.

  • Sights in Dhaka

    Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts

    Bangladesh's home of fine arts, this gallery was established in 200 by the Bengal Foundation, and holds regular exhibitions of art and photography as well as lectures and other events.

  • Sights in Dhaka

    Bara Katra

    This dilapidated Mughal-era structure is one of the oldest buildings in Dhaka, although searching for it among the high-walled, pinched alleyways of this part of the city can be a challenge. Bara Katra, once a palace of monumental dimensions, was built in 1644 and now has a street running through its arched entrance.

  • Sights in Dhaka

    Armenian Church of the Holy Resurrection

    This small area is known as Armanitola, and is named after the Armenian colony that settled here in the late 17th century. The white- and lemon-painted Armenian Church of the Holy Resurrection, dating from 1781, is the soul of this now almost extinct community, and is a tranquil spot. Check out the many beautiful gravestones with Armenian inscriptions. Donations welcomed.

  • Sights in Dhaka

    Hussaini Dalan

    A block north of the central jail is Hussaini Dalan, looking more like a Hindu rajbari (landowner’s palace) than an Islamic building. It was built in 1642 as the house of the imam of the Shi’ia community. Though the architecture seems baroque in inspiration, the original building was purely Mughal.

  • Sights in Dhaka

    Khan Mohammed Mridha’s Mosque

    Erected in 1706, this Mughal structure is stylistically similar to Lalbagh Fort. It is built on a raised platform, up a flight of 25 steps. Three squat domes, with pointed minarets at each corner, dominate the rectangular roof. To get a good view of this walled mosque, enter the main gate off the main road.

  • Sights in Dhaka

    Star Mosque

    This unusual mosque, with its striking mosaic decoration, dates from the early 18th century, although it has been radically altered. It was originally built in the typical Mughal style, with four corner towers. Around 50 years ago a local businessman financed its redecoration with Japanese and English porcelain tiles, and the addition of a new verandah. If you look hard you can see tiles illustrated with pictures of Mt Fuji!

  • Sights in Dhaka

    Baldha Gardens

    At the eastern end of Tipu Sultan Rd, and a block south of Hatkhola Rd, the Baldha Gardens are a relaxing corner in busy Dhaka. The two walled enclosures, Cybele and Psyche, were once the private gardens of Narendra Narayan Roy, a wealthy zamindar (landlord), whose grandson gave them to the government in 1962 as a tribute to his family.

  • Sights in Dhaka

    Baitul Mukarram Mosque

    West of Motijheel on Topkhana Rd, this enormous modern mosque is designed in the style of the holy Ka’aba of Mecca and is a hard-to-miss landmark. The boisterous market in the surrounding streets stretches around most of the national stadium.

  • Sights in Dhaka

    Old High Court

    The imposing old High Court, once the governor’s residence, is just north of Dhaka University’s main campus. It is the finest example in Dhaka of the European Renaissance style.