Old Dhaka: a microcosm of never-ending human spirit.


by Mohammad Moniruzzaman

The city of Dhaka is one of the most densely populated metropolises of the world and is largely globalized in terms of culture and lifestyle. Despite resembling the rapidly growing urban settlements of the world, this city harbors a unique niche of humanity, which is commonly known as 'Old Dhaka'. Old indeed; this was the capital of the last Mughal emperor Jahangir during the 1600s.

Despite the wave of global culture hitting the city, Old Dhaka still holds onto its century old living and cultural customs. Someday when you travel there, take a morning walk through the narrow alleys of this ancient town. You will meet people selling flowers for morning rituals. You might want to have a cup of tea from a roadside tea-stall where locals gather to sip on a cup of freshness to start the day afresh. Walk further, and you will come to a shrine. There, a priest is circling the pot of holy smoke around an omnipresent deity who protects the whole community from evils. Perhaps a centurion lady of the old town will stop you to tell a interesting story about the British colonial period. And if you go there in mid- March, get ready to receive a splash of color all over your face from the vibrant kids of Shakharibazar, who are observing 'Holi', the festival of colors. Once you are done dancing and exchanging colors with the people, don't forget to visit 'Ahsan Manjil', the palace of the last nawabs of Bengal. Also known as the 'pink palace', this breathtaking architecture stands beside the Buriganga river, the lifeline of Dhaka city.

I am originally from Bangladesh and used to live very close to Old Dhaka. Despite being an inhabitant of the capital, I always felt like a traveler in this part of the city. There are so many things to explore and so many festivals to join. The architectures are fascinating. The people are interesting. There is always a new alley to get lost in the past. People of Old Dhaka are very good at celebrating every occasion of life in well and woe. Nowhere in this world you will find such an ancient place teeming with evergreen and never-ending human spirit.

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