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This article is about the capital of Bangladesh. For other uses, see Dhaka (disambiguation).
National Capital and Metropolis
Clockwise from top:Dhaka Skyline, Ahsan Manzil, Curzon Hall, Lalbagh Fort, Motijheel commercial hub, Baitul Mukarram mosque and Chandrima Uddan Bridge.
Clockwise from top:Dhaka Skyline, Ahsan Manzil, Curzon Hall, Lalbagh Fort, Motijheel commercial hub, Baitul Mukarram mosque and Chandrima Uddan Bridge.
Nickname(s): City of Mosques
Coordinates: 23°42′0″N 90°22′30″E / 23.70000°N 90.37500°E / 23.70000; 90.37500Coordinates: 23°42′0″N 90°22′30″E / 23.70000°N 90.37500°E / 23.70000; 90.37500
Country  Bangladesh
Division Dhaka Division
District Dhaka District
Establishment 1608 CE
Granted city status 1947
 • National Capital and Metropolis 815.8 km2 (315.0 sq mi)
 • Land 506.92 km2 (195.72 sq mi)
 • Water 48.56 km2 (18.75 sq mi)
Elevation[1] 4 m (13.12 ft)
Population (2013)[2]
 • National Capital and Metropolis 14,399,000
 • Density 45,000/km2 (115,200/sq mi)
 • Metro 7,000,940 (2008)
 • Demonym[3] Dhakaiya
 • Literacy rate 95.7%
Time zone BST (UTC+6)
Postal code 1000, 1100, 12xx, 13xx
National calling code +880
Calling code 02
GDP PPP (2014) $217 billion[4]
Website Dhaka North City Corporation
Dhaka South City Corporation

Dhaka (Bengali: ঢাকা, pronounced: [ˈɖʱaka]; English /dɑːkə/, /dækə/; formerly spelled as Dacca[5]) is the capital city of Bangladesh. Located on the Buriganga River in the heart of the Bengal delta, Dhaka has an estimated population of more than 15 million people, making it the largest city in Bangladesh and one of the largest cities in the world. Dhaka is one of the major cities of South Asia.[6] It is known as the City of Mosques, and with 400,000 cycle-rickshaws running on its streets every day, the city is described as the Rickshaw Capital of the World. Dhaka is also one of the world's most densely populated cities.[7][8][9]

The Old City of Dhaka became Mughal capital of Bengal in the 17th-century; during that period the city was renamed as Jahangir Nagar after erstwhile Emperor Jahangir. The city flourished as a centre of the worldwide muslin trade and attracted merchants from across the world. The modern city developed during the British Raj in the 19th-century and was dominated by the Nawabs of Dhaka. Dhaka served as the capital of short-lived British province of Eastern Bengal and Assam. After the Partition of British India in 1947, Dhaka became the administrative capital of East Pakistan. It became the focal point of nationalist, civil disobedience and pro-democracy movements throughout the 1950s-60s, which culminated in the Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.[10][11][12][13]

Dhaka is Bangladesh's seat of government. It plays a central role in the Bangladeshi economy, alongside the port city of Chittagong. The city constitutes the political, cultural and scientific heart of the nation. It is home to acclaimed national landmarks, including the Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban, the University of Dhaka, the Liberation War Museum, the National Museum, the Shaheed Minar and the Lalbagh Fort .[14]

In recent decades, Dhaka has been experiencing an influx of people from across the nation, making it one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the world. The city has been attracting greater volumes of foreign investment and trade; and has been witnessing the modernization of transport and communications, with the Dhaka Metro and the Dhaka Elevated Expressway under construction. However, the city continues to face substantial challenges of congestion, poverty, overpopulation and pollution.


Origin of the name for Dhaka is uncertain. Once dhak tree was very common in the area and the name may have originated from it. Alternatively, this name may refer to the hidden goddess Dhakeshwari, whose shrine is located in the south-western part of the city.[15] Another popular theory states that Dhaka refers to a membranophone instrument, dhak which was played by order of Subahdar Islam Khan I during the inaugurating of the Bengal capital in 1610.[16] Some references also say that it was derived from a Prakrit dialect called Dhaka Bhasa; or Dhakka, used in the Rajtarangini for a watch-station; or it is the same as Davaka, mentioned in the Allahabad pillar inscription of Samudragupta as an eastern frontier kingdom.[17]


Main article: History of Dhaka

Buddhist and Hindu kingdom[edit]

Existence of a settlement in the area that is now Dhaka can be traced back to as early as the 1st century.[15] This small locality was ruled by the Buddhist kingdom of Kamarupa and the Pala Empire before passing the control over to the Hindu Sena dynasty in the 9th century.[18] The name of the city may have derived after the establishment of the Goddess Dhakeshwari's temple by Ballal Sena in the 12th century.[19] The town itself consisted of a few market centres like Lakshmi Bazar, Shankhari Bazar, Tanti Bazar, Patuatuli, Kumartuli, Bania Nagar and Goal Nagar. After the fall of the Sena Empire, Dhaka was successively ruled by the Sultanate of Bengal as well as interruption of governors from the Delhi Sultanate.

Mughal rule[edit]

Mughal governor Shaista Khan, one of the founders of the Old City of Dhaka
A woman wearing fine Dhaka muslin in the 18th century
Lalbagh Fort, built during the reign of Emperor Aurangazeb.

In 1576, much of Bengal came under the control of the Mughal Empire. At the time, Dhaka emerged as Mughal military base, prior to this, Chittagong was the leading city of Bengal.[20] The development of townships and housing had resulted into a significant growth in population, as the town was proclaimed the capital (Rajmahal) of Bengal under Mughal rule in 1608, during this time many mosques, forts and universities had been built and Muslims were excused from paying taxes, this allowed many Muslims from surrounding areas to swell up the town transforming it into a city, it was at this time Dhaka was known as a city rather than a town or Fort.[21][22][23] Mughal documents record subahdar Islam Khan as the first administrator of the city.[24] Islam Khan named the city "Jahangir Nagar" (شهر از جهانگیر; City of Jahangir) in honour of Emperor Jahangir, although this name was dropped soon after Jahangir's death. A major expansion of the city took place under the direction of a general Shaista Khan on orders from the Emperor Aurangzeb in the 17th century.[22][23] The city then measured 19 by 13 kilometres (12 by 8 mi), with a population of nearly one million people and over a 100 universities and hundreds of mosques.[25] Mughal rule was severely weakened after the death of Aurangzeb and control of the Bengal switched hands once more, however it is noted that Mughal expansion and influences can still be seen in the region, as it was under Mughal rule that Islam came to be dominant. Lalbagh Fort (Bengali: লালবাগ কেল্লা) (also Fort Aurangabad) is an incomplete 17th century Mughal fort complex in Dhaka, Bangladesh.[1] The construction was started in 1678 AD by Mughal Subahdar Muhammad Azam Shah who was son of Emperor Aurangzeb and later Emperor himself.

British rule[edit]

The Saat Masjid on the Buriganga River banks in the 19th century
Elephant race in Pilkhana, 1895-1900

The British East India Company in 1765 gained the right to collect revenue (Diwani right) on behalf of the Mughal emperor. East India company became the imperial tax collector. As company's influence grew, East India Company later took on governing in 1793 when the Nawabs of Bengal were forced to relinquish all their authority over Bengal, Bihar and Odisha, and the city passed on to total control of East India company. The city's population shrank dramatically during this period as the prominence of Calcutta rose,[26] but substantive development and modernisation eventually followed. A modern civic water supply system was introduced in 1874 and electricity supply launched in 1878.[27][28] The Dhaka Cantonment was established near the city, serving as a base for British and Bengali soldiers.[23]

20th century[edit]

The Ahsan Manzil was once the palace of the Dhaka Nawab Family; it is now a museum.
The 19th-century Rose Garden Mansion in Old Dhaka; the birthplace of the Awami League in 1949.[29]

During the abortive Partition of Bengal in 1905, Dhaka was declared to be the capital of the newly established state of East Bengal and Assam, but Bengal was reunited in 1911.[21][22][23] Following the Partition of India in 1947, Dhaka became the capital of East Pakistan. The city witnessed major communal violence following the partition of India.[23] A large proportion of the city's Hindu population departed for India, while the city received a large influx of Muslims. As the centre of regional politics, however, Dhaka saw an increasing number of political strikes and incidents of violence.[23] The adoption of Urdu as the sole official language of Pakistan led to protest marches involving large crowds. Known as the Bengali Language Movement, the protests resulted in Pakistani police firing which killed a number of peaceful student demonstrators.[30] Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Dhaka remained a hotbed of political activity, and the demands for autonomy for the Bengali population. And this population gradually gained momentum.[31]

The 1970 Bhola cyclone devastated much of the region, killed an estimated 500,000 people. The arrest of the Bengali liberation politician Sheikh Mujibur Rahman would also then spark powerful intensive political riots protests and violence against the military dictatorship regime of Pakistani Army officer Ayub Khan.[32] More than half the city was flooded and millions of people were marooned.[33] With public anger growing against ethnic discrimination and poor cyclone relief efforts from the central government, Bengali politician Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman held a nationalist gathering on 7 March 1971 at Ramna Racecourse.[23][30] An estimated one million people attended the gathering, leading to the 26 March declaration of Bangladesh's independence.[30] In response, the Pakistan Army launched Operation Searchlight, which led to the arrests, torture and killing of thousands of people.[34] After nine months of bloody battle with Indian Army and Mitra Bahini, the Pakistani Army surrendered to the Joint Forces on 16 December marking the end of the independence war of Bangladesh.[35] Dhaka saw a rapid and huge growth of the city population in the post-independence period, as migrant workers from rural areas across Bangladesh moved to the city.[36] The Pakistan Army's operations killed or displaced many millions of people and homelessness, and the new state struggled to cope with the humanitarian challenges. The year 1975 saw the killing of Sheikh Mujib by army officers and three military coups. The growth of commerce and industry along with the city's population has created further challenges to the services and infrastructure.[37] A real estate boom has followed the expansion of city limits and the development of new settlements such as Uttara, Baridhara, Mirpur and Motijheel. Also lots of diplomatic quarters have opened in Baridhara and businesses such as Grameen and cricket in Mirpur also many corporates in Motijheel. In 1985, Dhaka hosted inaugural meeting of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation important subcontinent cooperation vehicle. It has also played hosted the summits of the D8 group and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference as it is most populous Muslim country in world.[38] Recently again there are more upheavals in Dhaka till date. In 2012-13 proceedings began to try war criminals and Jamaat collaborators for war crimes and collaborationism, rapes and massacres in 1971, and mass protests broke out among Jamaat collaborationist supporters who support 1971 atrocities. The Awami League supporters counter-protested. Hundreds died in riots and several thousands were injured, especially with the focus point in Shahbag. Also the Pakistani government tried to defend death row war criminals provoking upset among Bengalis leading to riots outside the Pakistan embassy.


Astronaut View of Dhaka

Dhaka is located in central Bangladesh at 23°42′0″N 90°22′30″E / 23.70000°N 90.37500°E / 23.70000; 90.37500, on the eastern banks of the Buriganga River. The city lies on the lower reaches of the Ganges Delta and covers a total area of 360 square kilometres (140 sq mi).[39] It consists of 49 thanasLalbagh, Kotwali, Hazaribagh, Sutrapur, Ramna, Motijheel, Paltan, Dhanmondi, Mohammadpur, Tejgaon, Gulshan, Mirpur, Pallabi, Shah Ali, Turaag, Sabujbagh, Dhaka Cantonment, Demra, Shyampur, Badda, Kafrul, Kamrangir char, Khilgaon, Uttara etc.[40] In total the city has 130 wards and 725 mohallas.[41] Dhaka District has an area of 1,463.60 square kilometres (565 sq mi) with a population of 18,305,671 in 2012; and is bounded by the districts of Gazipur, Tangail, Munshiganj, Rajbari, Narayanganj, Manikganj.[41] Tropical vegetation and moist soils characterize the land, which is flat and close to sea level. This leaves Dhaka susceptible to flooding during the monsoon seasons owing to heavy rainfall and cyclones.[42]


Main article: Climate of Dhaka

Dhaka experiences a hot, wet, and humid tropical climate. Under the Köppen climate classification, Dhaka has a tropical savanna climate. The city has a distinct monsoonal season, with an annual average temperature of 25 °C (77 °F) and monthly means varying between 18 °C (64 °F) in January and 32 °C (90 °F) in May.[43] Approximately 87% of the annual average rainfall of 2,123 millimeters (83.6 inches) occurs between May and October.[43] Increasing air and water pollution emanating from traffic congestion and industrial waste are serious problems affecting public health and the quality of life in the city.[44] Water bodies and wetlands around Dhaka are facing destruction as these are being filled up to construct multi-storied buildings and other real estate developments. Coupled with pollution, such erosion of natural habitats threatens to destroy much of the regional biodiversity.[44]

Parks and lakes[edit]

Ramna Park Lake shoreline
Tomb of A. K. Fazlul Huq, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and Khwaja Nazimuddin on Suhrawardy Udyans, Dhaka.
Crescent Lake at night

There are many parks within Dhaka city, including Ramna Park, Suhrawardy Udyan, Shishu Park, National Botanical Garden, Baldha Garden, Chandrima Uddan, Gulshan Park and Dhaka Zoo. There are lakes within city, such as Crescent lake, Dhanmondi lake, Baridhara-Gulshan lake, Banani lake, Uttara lake and Hatirjheel-Begunbari lake.

Hatirjheel-Begunbari is a new place of recreation for city dwellers. Hatirjheel covering 320 acres (129 ha) is transformed into a place of festivity at night but with serenity settling down. Consultants from Civil Engineering Department of BUET and engineers of SWO of Bangladesh Army, Roads and Highways Department, Local Government Engineering Department and Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha have worked hard to turn this project into reality.

Civil administration[edit]

The Dhaka municipality was founded on 1 August 1864, and upgraded to "corporation" status in 1978.[48] The Dhaka City Corporation is a self-governing corporation which runs the affairs of the city. Recently (i.e. 2011), Dhaka City Corporation has been divided into two administrative parts – these are (1) Dhaka City Corporation-North and (2) Dhaka City Corporation-South – for ensuring better civic facilities. These two corporations are headed by two administrators. The incorporated area is divided into several wards, which have elected commissioners. The Dhaka Education Board is responsible for administering all public schools and most private schools with the exception of English-medium schools and madrassahs.[49][50] All madrassahs in Bangladesh are governed by a central board while English-medium schools are under separate educational and governance structures.[51]

Dhaka City Corporation Building - Nagar Bhaban

The Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) was established in 1976 and has 6,000 personnel in 12 police stations.[40] With the rapid growth of the city, the force has been raised to 26,661 personnel and the establishment of 49 police stations has been completed.[40][52]

The city is divided into 25 (i.e. 2011) parliamentary constituencies. The two main political parties are the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Ramna contains the Secretariat, which houses most of the government ministries. The Supreme Court of Bangladesh and the Dhaka High Court are located in the city. The Bangabhaban palace has served as the official residence of the Viceroy of India, the governor of East Pakistan and presently the President of Bangladesh.[53] The Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban, designed by renowned architect Louis Kahn,[30] houses the unicameral national parliament. The Baitul Mukarram, developed with a design resembling the Kaaba of Mecca, is the national mosque.[54] Other historical monuments in the city include the Bara Katra palace, the Lalbagh Fort, the Hoseni Dalan and the Ahsan Manzil.[55]

To fight rising traffic congestion and population, the national government has recently implemented a policy for rapid urbanization of surrounding areas and beyond by the introduction of a ten-year relief on income tax for new construction of facilities and buildings outside Dhaka.[56]

Water management[edit]

Aside from Chittagong, Dhaka has a water-borne sewage system, but this serves only 22% of the population while another 30% are served with septic tanks.[57] Only two-thirds of households in Dhaka are served by the city water supply system. More than 9.7 million tons of solid wastes are produced in Dhaka city each year. While private and government efforts have succeeded in collecting refuse city-wide and using it as manure, most solid wastes are often dumped untreated in nearby low-lying areas and water bodies.[58] The utility in charge of water and sanitation in Dhaka, DWASA, addresses these challenges with a number of measures. It says that in 2011 it achieved a continuous water supply 24 hours per day 7 days a week, an increase in revenues so that operating costs are more than covered, and a reduction of water losses from 53% in 2003 to 29% in 2010.[59] For these achievements DWASA, got a "Performer of the Year Award" at the Global Water Summit 2011 in Berlin.[60] In the future DWASA plans massive investment to replace dwindling groundwater resources with treated surface water from less polluted rivers located up to 160 km from the city.[59] In 2011 Bangladesh's capital development authority, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK), made rainwater harvesting for new houses mandatory in an effort to address water scarcity and reduce flooding.

Dhaka lies on the banks of the Buriganga River in central Bangladesh.

82% of the city's water supply is abstracted from groundwater through 577 deep tube wells, while four relatively small surface water treatment plants provide the remaining 18%.[61] Groundwater levels are dropping at two to three metres every year. The city's water table has sunk by 50 metres in the past four decades and the closest underground water is now over 60 metres below ground level.[62][63] The Asian Development Bank estimated in 2007 that by 2015 a severe supply shortage would occur if the utility did not reduce groundwater abstraction.[64] Nevertheless, DWASA announced in 2012 that it will develop a new wellfield with 46 wells providing 150,000 cubic metres of water per day at a cost of 63 million USD, of which 45 million USD will be financed by the government of South Korea.[65]

The utility plans to substitute surface water for groundwater through the construction of four large water treatment plants until 2020 at a cost of 1.8 billion USD (Saidabad Phase II and III, Padma/Pagla and Khilkhet). The treatment plants will draw water from more distant and less polluted rivers up to 160 km from the city. The four plants are expected to have a combined capacity of 1.63 million cubic metres per year, compared to a 2010 supply of 2.11 million cubic metre per year that is mainly from groundwater. As of 2011, funding had been secured for the first plant which is under construction thanks to a 250 million USD contribution from Danish development assistance.[59] In 2012 the government signed a contract with a Chinese company to build a water treatment plant at Munshiganj on the Padma River. The project costs 407 million USD, of which 290.8 million USD is financed by a soft loan from the Chinese government, the remainder coming from the Bangladeshi government.[66]


Dhaka is the commercial heart of Bangladesh.[67] The city has a growing middle class population, driving the market for modern consumer and luxury goods.[22][68] The city has historically attracted a large number of migrant workers.[69] Hawkers, peddlers, small shops, rickshaw transport, roadside vendors and stalls employ a large segment of the population[69][70] — rickshaw-drivers alone number as many as 400,000.[71] Half the workforce is employed in household and unorganised labour, while about 800,000 work in the textile industry. Even so, unemployment remains high at 19%.[72] As of 2008, Dhaka's Gross Municipal Product (GMP) is registered at $85 billion.[73] With an annual growth rate of 6.2%, the GMP is projected to rise to $215 billion by 2025.[73] The annual per capita income of Dhaka is estimated at $1,350(USD), with 34% of households living below the poverty line,[74] including a large segment of the population coming from rural areas in search of employment,[68] with most surviving on less than $5 a day.[75]

Karwan Bazar, one of the chief commercial districts of Dhaka

The main commercial areas of the city include Motijheel, Dilkusha, Paltan, New Market, Shahbag, Gulshan, Mohakhali, Karwan Bazar and Farmgate, while Tejgaon and Hazaribagh are the major industrial areas. A lot of leather processed and put together in Hazaribagh and the large Basundhara shopping mall is in Tejgaon along with the main factories of newspapers and radios as well as the airport.[76] Bashundhara-Baridhara is a developing economic area that will include high-tech industries, corporations and a large shopping precinct in about 5 years.[68] The Export Processing Zone in Dhaka was set up to encourage the export of garments, textiles and other goods. Dhaka has two EPZs. They are home to 413 industries, which employ mostly women. Garment industry is major employer in Dhaka but is also dangerous due to overcorwding and dangerous buildings.[77] The Dhaka Stock Exchange is based in the city, including many large multinationals and BRAC are based in Dhaka.[78] Country's central bank Bangladesh Bank and Nobel Peace Prize winning organization Grameen Bank have their headquarters in Dhaka and Country's first land development bank Progoti Co-operative Land Development Bank Limited (Progoti Bank) has its head office in the Division of Dhaka.[79] Urban developments have sparked a widespread construction boom; new high-rise buildings and skyscrapers have changed the city landscape.[68] Growth has been especially strong in the finance, banking, manufacturing, telecommunications and services sectors, while tourism, hotels and restaurants continue as important elements in the economy of Dhaka.[69]


Animation showing urban growth in Dhaka, Bangladesh from 1972 to 2001. The animation starts with a global view over India using Terra-MODIS 30 km (19 mi) true colour data. The animation then zooms down to Terra-MODIS 1 km. data over Bangladesh, and dissolves into the 28 December 1972, Landsat-1-MSS data of Dhaka. Dhaka can then be seen growing to its present day size by first showing the 13 February 1989 Landsat-5-TM image which then dissolves into the final 29 January 2001 Landsat-7-ETM+ image.[80]

The population of Dhaka (areas under the jurisdiction of the Dhaka city corporation) stands at approximately 7.0 million. The city, in combination with localities forming the wider metropolitan area, is home to over 15 million as of 2013.[81] The population is growing by an estimated 4.2% per year, one of the highest rates amongst Asian cities.[69] The continuing growth reflects ongoing migration from rural areas to the Dhaka urban region, which accounted for 60% of the city's growth in the 1960s and 1970s. More recently, the city's population has also grown with the expansion of city boundaries, a process that added more than a million people to the city in the 1980s.[69] According to Far Eastern Economic Review, Dhaka will become a home of 25 million people by the year 2025.[82]

The literacy rate in Dhaka is also increasing fairly quickly. It was estimated at 62.3% in 2001. The literacy rate had gone up to 72.7% by 2010 which is significantly higher than the national average of 56.5%.[41]

The city population is composed of people from virtually every region of Bangladesh. The long-standing inhabitants of the old city are known as Dhakaiya and have a distinctive dialect and culture. Between 15,000 to 20,000 of the Rohingya, Santal, Khasi, Garo, Chakma and Mandi tribal peoples reside in the city.[83] Dhaka has one of the largest and fastest-growing expatriate populations in South Asia, including South Asian, African, Western, Middle Eastern and East Asian expatriates employed in various industries, international organizations, multinational companies, development agencies, volunteer work, sport clubs and education. The city has a large population of Indians, Pakistanis, Chinese, Koreans, Nepalese, Sri Lankans and Burmese working in the industrial sector.

Most residents of Dhaka speak Bengali, the national language. Many distinctive Bengali dialects and regional languages such as Chittagonian and Sylheti are also spoken by segments of the population. English is understood by a large segment of the population, especially for business purposes. There is a minority Urdu-speaking population, who are descendants of displaced Muslims from eastern India during 1947 and sought refuge in East Pakistan. The correct population is ambiguous; although official figures estimate at least 40,000 residents,[84] it is estimated that there are at least 300,000 Urdu-speakers in all of Bangladesh, mostly residing in refugee camps in Dhaka.[85][86]

Islam is the dominant religion of Dhaka's people. About 83% of the city practicing the faith of Islam; with a majority belonging to the Sunni sect. There is also a small Shia sect, and an Ahmadiya community. Hinduism is the second-largest religion, with about 16%, and smaller communities practice Buddhism and Christianity, both of about 0.5% each.[87]

Dhaka skyline


Shaheed Minar symbolized Bengali language movement

Baitul Mukarram, the national mosque

Durga Puja, religious festival of Bangladeshi Hindus

Pohela Baishakh (Bengal New Year) celebrations

Panta Ilish – a traditional platter of Panta bhat, with fried ilish slice

As Dhaka is the most populous city of Bangladesh, it has a vibrant and versatile cultural life. For much of recent history, Dhaka was characterised by roadside markets and small shops that sold a wide variety of goods. The land, the rivers, and the lives of Bengali people formed a richest heritage with marked differences from neighbouring regions lesser developed civilisations. It has evolved over the centuries and encompasses the cultural diversity of several social groups of Bangladesh. Dhaka is prime microcosm and representation of this richness of Bengali society. The Bengal Renaissance of the 19th and early 20th centuries, noted Bengali writers, saints, authors, scientists, researchers, thinkers, music composers, painters, and film-makers have played a significant role in the development of Bengali culture.[88] As such Dhaka as heartbeat of Bengali land is center of much of this culture with whole swag of famous high culture festivals, evolving creativity in music and combining golden era of Bengal and modern vibrancy of emerging power in the symibiosis of litertature of Bangladesh intellectuals. the Recent years have seen the widespread construction of shopping malls, multiplexes, hotels and restaurants attracting Dhaka's growing middle class and wealthy residents.[89]


The annual events and celebrations of Independence Day (26 March), Language Martyrs' Day and the International Mother language Day (21 February), Victory Day (16 December), Bengali New Year (14 April), Ekushey Book Fair (month of February), the Muslim festivals of Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha, and the Hindu festivals including the Durga Puja and Kali Puja feature prominently in the city's cultural observances, events, and celebrations. Dhaka's people congregate at the Shaheed Minar and the Jatiyo Smriti Soudho to remember the national heroes of the Bengali Language Movement and the Bangladesh Liberation War. Much art and museums congregate artefacts and remember solmenly the war crimes inflicted by Pakistani war criminals and their collaborators who committed crimes against the people. These occasions are observed with public ceremonies and rallies on public grounds. Many schools and colleges organise fairs, festivals and concerts in which citizens from all levels of society participate. Pôhela Boishakh is the first day of the Bengali calendar. It is usually celebrated on the 14th of April. Pohela Boishakh first marks the start day of the crop bringing home season. Usually on Pôhela Boishakh, the home is thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned; people wash early in the morning sunshine and dress in fine clothes. They spend much of the day visiting relatives, friends, and neighbours and going to the fair. Fairs are arranged in many parts of the country where various agricultural products, traditional handicrafts, toys, cosmetics, as well as various kinds of food and sweets are sold. The fairs also provide entertainment, with singers, dancers and traditional plays and songs. Horse races, bull races, bullfights, cockfights, flying pigeons, and boat racing were once popular. Also a statue erected where massacre of Bengalis protecting language movement was done[90]

Pohela Baishakh, the Bengali New Year, falls annually on 14 April and is popularly celebrated across the city.[90] Large crowds of people gather on the streets of Shahbag, Ramna Park and the campus of the University of Dhaka for celebrations. The Muslim festivals of Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha witness widespread celebrations across the whole city.

Performing arts and media[edit]

Despite the growing popularity of music groups and rock bands, traditional folk music remains widely popular.[91] The works of the national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam and national anthem writer Rabindranath Tagore have a widespread following across Dhaka.[92] The Baily Road area is known as Natak Para (Theatre Neighbourhood) which is the centre of Dhaka's thriving theatre movement.[93] Indian and Western music and films are popular with large segments of Dhaka's population.[94]

Bangladesh Betar is the state-run primary provider of radio services, and broadcasts a variety of programs in Bengali and English. In recent years many private radio networks, especially FM radio services, have been established in the city such as Radio Foorti FM 88.0, Radio Today FM 89.6, Radio Amar FM 88.4, ABC Radio FM 89.2, DHAKA FM 90.4 etc. Bangladesh Television is the state-run broadcasting network that provides a wide variety of programs in Bengali and English since 25 December 1964. It has two TV channels- BTV and BTV world. The first one telecasts via terrestrial and satellite networks while the later telecasts via satellite only. Sangsad Bangladesh Television is another state-run TV channel which was launched on 25 January 2011 and broadcasts the parliamentary activities of Bangladesh. Cable and satellite TV networks such as Ekushey Television, Channel I, ATN Bangla, Desh TV, RTV, NTV, Banglavision, Channel 9 Bangladesh and Independent TV are amongst the most popular channels. The main offices of most publishing houses in Bangladesh are based in Dhaka. The Prothom Alo and The Daily Ittefaq are the most popular amongst the large number of Bengali language dailies, periodicals and other publications in the city. The Daily Star and The Independent are the major English dailies published.[95] The telephone concentration in Bangladesh is estimated at around 50% and this is much higher in Dhaka.[96]


Along with Bangladeshi cuisine and South Asian variants, a large variety of Western and Chinese cuisine is served at numerous restaurants and eateries.[68] Though restaurants offering multinational cuisine and the international fast-food and hotel chains have opened up in the city, unique Dhakaiya delicacies like Glassey, Hajir Biriyani (Haji's Biriyani), Nanna Biriyani, Laban, Borhani, Tehari etc. are still very popular amongst Dhakaiyas. These delicacies are even offered to state guests. Dhakaiya Bakarkhani is the traditional food/snack of the people of Old Dhaka. It is famous for its quality and taste and it was highly praised by the royal court of the Mughal Empire in Delhi.[97]


Exterior of the building in Jamuna Future Park.
Bashundhara City shopping mall at Pantapath

Shopping in Dhaka is very easy. There are markets in almost every part of Dhaka, where household commodities are available. Shopping malls are also found in every major avenues; some of them are Dhaka New Market, Basundhara City, Jamuna Future Park, Shimanto Square, Rapa plaza, Metro Shopping mall, Concord Twin Tower, BCS Computer City, Navana Tower, Pink city shopping mall, Mouchak Market, Eastern Plaza, Fortune mall, Eastern plus, Banga Bazar, Razdhani market, Gausia complex, Holland Centre, Suvastu Nazar Valley, Cofidence Tower, Mollah tower, Lutfun tower, Eastern Mallika, Muskut plaza, North Tower, Razlaksmi complex, Multiplan Center and many more. Kudrat-E-Khuda Avenue (former New Elephant Road), and its surrounding areas are very popular destination for shoppers. Jamuna Future Park is the 12th largest shopping mall in the world with a gross leasable area of 4.1 million sq ft and total area of 5.45 million sq ft.[98][99][100]

Chain stores like Shopno, Agora, Meena Bazar, Nandon, PQS are also found in most of the residential areas of the city. There are many branches of Aarong around the city where local products including clothing, handicrafts, groceries and home decors are available in a wide range.

Banga Bazar is the largest hawkers market in Dhaka. The market is situated near Chankharpul behind the campus of the University of Dhaka. This place is famous for years for garment’s cloths in a reasonable price. It is a favourite shopping place for many foreigners visiting Bangladesh. Basundhara City is the second largest mall in the country and has more than 23 hundred shops and 21 stories.


The most popular dressing style for women are the traditional saree and salwar kameez, while men usually prefer western clothing to the traditional lungi. In recent years T-shirt and jeans have become popular among city's young men and women although they prefer traditional dresses for religious and cultural festivals. Dhaka is also credited for the revival of the Jamdani due to the many local saree stores selling and promoting these locally hand-made age old traditional Bengali saree. Jamdanis are 100% hand woven and originate from the Persian and Mughal era. Jamdanis are produced by a traditional high quality artisans although the cottage industry is on the decline due to the slow production process. A single medium range Jamdani saree may take as long as 3 months to complete.[101]


Dhaka Medical College Hospital Building

Dhaka has the largest number of schools, colleges and universities of any Bangladeshi city. The education system is divided into 5 levels: Primary (from grades 1 to 5), Junior (from grades 6 to 8), Secondary (from grades 9 to 10), Higher Secondary (from grades 11 to 12) and tertiary.[102] The five years of Primary education concludes with a Primary Education Completion (PEC) Examination, the three years of Junior education concludes with Junior School Certificate (JSC) Examination, and next two years of Secondary education concludes with a Secondary School Certificate (SSC) Examination. Students who pass this examination proceed to two years of Higher Secondary or intermediate training, which culminate in a Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC) Examination.[102] Education is mainly offered in Bengali, but English is also widely taught and used. A large number of Muslim families send their children to attend part-time courses or even to pursue full-time religious education alongside other subjects, which is imparted in Bengali and Arabic in schools, colleges and madrasas.[102]

There are 52 universities in Dhaka. The Dhaka College is the oldest institution of higher education in the city and amongst the earliest established in British India, founded in 1841. Since independence, Dhaka has seen the establishment of a large number of public and private colleges and universities that offer undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as a variety of doctoral programmes.[103] The University of Dhaka is one of the largest public university[104] in the nation with more than 30,000 students and 1,300 faculty staff. It was established in 1921 being the first university in the region. The university has 23 research centres and 70 departments, faculties and institutes.[105] Eminent seats of higher education include Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU)and Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University. Dhaka Medical College and Sir Salimullah Medical College are two famous medical colleges in the nation.[106][107] Protests and strikes, and violence amongst police, students and political groups frequently disrupt public university campuses.[108][109] There are 2 other renowned Government medical colleges,one is Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College & another Armed Forces Medical College, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Alongside public institutes of higher education there are some forty-five private universities in Dhaka. Notable private universities include East West University, North South University, American International University - Bangladesh, BRAC University and Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology (see:List of universities in Bangladesh), most of which are located in Mohakhali, Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara, Bashundhara, Uttara and Dhanmondi areas of the city.

The British Council plays an important role helping students to achieve GCSE and A Level qualifications from examination boards in the United Kingdom. This is in addition to holding several examinations for professional bodies in the United Kingdom, including the UK medical Royal Colleges and Accountancy. Dhaka University Result


A view of Sher-e-Bangla Cricket Stadium from South Gallery

Cricket and football are the two most popular sports in Dhaka and across the nation.[110] Teams are fielded in intra-city and national competitions by a large number of schools, colleges and private entities. The Mohammedan Sports Club and Abahani are two of the most famous football and cricket teams, maintaining a fierce rivalry, specially in Bangladesh Premier League (football).[111] Dhaka Metropolis cricket team represents Dhaka city in National Cricket League, a region based domestic first-class cricket competition in Bangladesh. In domestic Twenty20 cricket, Dhaka has a Bangladesh Premier League franchise known as Dhaka Gladiators.

Supporters of the Bangladesh cricket team in Bangabadhu Arena

Dhaka has the distinction of having hosted the first official Test cricket match of the Pakistan cricket team in 1954 against India.[112] The Bangabandhu National Stadium was formerly the main venue for domestic and international cricket matches, but now exclusively hosts football matches.[112] It was used during Pakistan colonial era for Test matches when no Bengalis were selected in team and a matting pitch was used. It was the host for the opening ceremony[113] of the 2011 Cricket World Cup while the Sher-e-Bangla Cricket Stadium hosted 6 matches of the tournament including two quarter-final matches.[114] Dhaka also hosted South Asian Games for three times in 1985, 1993 and 2010.[115] Dhaka is the first city to hold the games three times. The Bangabandhu National Stadium was the main venue for all three editions.[116] Dhaka also hosted ICC World Twenty20, along with Chittagong and Sylhet, held in 2014.

The Bangladesh Sports Control Board, responsible for promoting sports activities across the nation is based in Dhaka. Dhaka also has stadiums largely used for domestic events such as the Bangladesh Army Stadium, the Bir Sherestha Shaheed Shipahi Mostafa Kamal Stadium, the Dhanmondi Cricket Stadium and the Outer Stadium Ground.[117] The Dhaka University Ground and The BUET Sports Ground host many intercollegiate tournaments.[118] They are also used as practice ground by different football clubs and visiting foreign national football teams.


Rickshaws in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Steamers moving in the Sadarghat Port

Dhaka is known as the rickshaw capital of the world.[119][120][121] Approximately 400,000 rickshaws run each day.[122] Cycle rickshaws and auto rickshaws are the main mode of transport, with close to 400,000 rickshaws running each day – the largest number for any city in the world.[68][70] However, only about 85,000 rickshaws are licensed by the city government.[69][123] Relatively low-cost and non-polluting cycle rickshaws, nevertheless, cause traffic congestion and have been banned from many parts of the city. Public buses are operated by the state-run Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) and by private companies and operators.

Scooters, taxis and privately owned automobiles are rapidly becoming popular with the city's growing middle class. The government has overseen the replacement of two-stroke engine auto rickshaws with "Green auto-rickshaws" locally called CNG auto-rickshaw or Baby-taxi, which run on compressed natural gas.[124] Taxis plying in the Dhaka roads are of two types. Yellow taxis have slightly higher standards in terms of comfort but are more expensive. They are required to have air conditioning; the fleet consists mostly of Toyota Corollas. Blue and black taxis are cheaper and lack air conditioning; the fleet consists mostly of Maruti 800. As of April 2013, some 2,000-2,500 taxis of 11,260 registered ones were operating in the capital.[125] The Government decided to import 5,000 new taxis with the engine capacity of 1,500cc. The government also plans to raise the total number of taxis to 18,000 gradually.[125]

As of 1986, Dhaka has 1,868 kilometres (1,161 mi) of paved roads.[126] It is connected to the other parts of the country through highway and railway links. Highway links to the Indian cities of Kolkata and Agartala have been established by the BRTC which also runs regular bus services to those cities from Dhaka.[127]

The Kamalapur Railway Station, the Airport (Biman Bandar) Railway Station, the Tejgaon Railway Station and the Cantonment Railway Station are the main railway stations providing trains on suburban and national routes operated by the state-run Bangladesh Railway.[128] Bangladesh Railway also runs a regular international train service between Dhaka and Kolkata. Since April 2013, Bangladesh Railway has been operating commuter rail services in suburban areas as well as to neighboring Narayanganj city using DEMU trains.[129]

The Sadarghat Port on the banks of the Buriganga River serves for the transport of goods and passengers upriver and to other ports in Bangladesh.[130]

The Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, located 15 km north of Dhaka city centre, is the largest and busiest airport in the nation.[131] It handles 52% of the country's arrivals and departures. Domestic service flies to Chittagong, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Cox's Bazar, Jessore, Barisal, Saidpur and international services fly to major cities in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Western Europe.[132][133]

An elevated expressway system is under construction.[134] The Dhaka Elevated Expressway would run from Shahjalal International Airport-Kuril-Banani-Mohakhali-Tejgaon-Saatrasta-Moghbazar Rail Crossing-Khilgaon-Kamalapur-Golapbagh to Dhaka-Chittagong Highway at Kutubkhali Point. A longer second elevated expressway from Airport-Ashulia is currently undergoing feasibility study.[135]

The Dhaka Metro feasibility study has been completed. A 21.5 kilometer, $1.7 Billion Phase 1, metro route is being negotiated by the Government with Japan International Cooperation Agency. The first route will start from Pallabi, northern suburb of Dhaka to Sayedabad, southern section of Dhaka.[136]

Media and communications[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Telecommunications in Bangladesh.
  • Postal service: The Bangladeshi postal service, commonly known as Bangladesh Post Office, headquartered in Dhaka, is responsible for providing postal service throughout the country.[137]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

  • Sharuf Uddin Ahmed, ed. (1991). Dhaka -past present future. The Asiatic Society, Dhaka. ISBN 984-512-335-X. 
  • Karim, Abdul (1992). History of Bengal, Mughal Period (I). Rajshahi. 
  • Pryer, Jane (2003). Poverty and Vulnerability in Dhaka Slums: The Urban Livelihood Study. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 0-7546-1864-1. OCLC 123337526 OCLC 243482310 OCLC 50334244 OCLC 50939515. 
  • Rabbani, Golam (1997). Dhaka, from Mughal outpost to metropolis. University Press, Dhaka. ISBN 984-05-1374-5. 
  • Sarkar, Sir Jadunath (1948). History of Bengal (II). Dhaka. 
  • Taifoor, S.M. (1956). Glimpses of Old Dacca. Dhaka. 

External links[edit]

Dhaka travel guide from Wikivoyage