What You’ll be Surprised to know About Dhaka, Bangladesh

‘Where?’ is what I hear every time I say I was born in Dhaka. Those who may have heard of Bangladesh is usually through the news and about a natural disaster. Bangladesh is not known to be a touristy destinations. In fact, it is not an easy country to travel. It’s chaotic, packed, loud, and just frenetic but it has its rich traditions, uniqueness and full of surprises!

Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh which is a South Asian country located next to India. In colonial period, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan was the same country. When British left the sub-continent in 1947, it was divided in two countries based on religion- Pakistan and India.

In 1971 Bangladesh was liberated from Pakistan after 9 months of war. It used to be a part of Pakistan and known as East Pakistan and got independence from the country to declare its own nationhood, language and identity.

The country of Bangladesh is almost the size of Michigan. United States is about 66 times bigger than Bangladesh. The current population of Bangladesh is 167,756,524 as of Saturday, April 27, 2019, based on the latest United Nations estimates. Bangladesh is the 8th most populous country in the world. 

Dhaka (Image from Nytimes)

Transportation –Dhaka is known as “The city that never sleeps” and also “the Rickshaw Capital of the world “ due to the largest number of rickshaws in the city. It’s part of Dhaka culture. The massive use of Rickshaws driven manually cuts the emission of greenhouse gasses. You will also see cars, beat up buses, motorbikes & scooter carrying three or four people, water-buffalo carts, CNGs, tempos (shared auto-rickshaws), and weird home-made vehicles all competing for space on the road.

Dhaka Street (Image from NewsInAsia)

Language –The official language is Bangla, also known as Bengali. Almost 100% of the country’s inhabitants speak Bengali as a first language, which makes it one of the most spoken languages in the world. English is the second language.

Top 3 attractions –

Ahsan Manzil, also known as the Pink Palace.
Construction was started in 1859 and was completed in 1872.

Pink Palace ( image from google)

Lalbagh Fort

Lalbagh Fort (also known as “Fort Aurangabad”) is an incomplete Mughal palace fortress. Construction was commenced in 1678 by Prince Muhammad Azam. The fort remained incomplete when he was called away by his father Aurangzeb.

Lalbagh Fort ( image from google )

National Assembly building/ Parliament Building (Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban)
The National Assembly building is one of Dhaka’s finest landmark. It was designed in 1963 by Louis Kahn, a renowned American architect. 

Parliament Building (Image from google)

Religion & Clothing – It is a moderate Muslim country. Most Bangladeshis are Sunni Muslims, while Hindus are the largest religious minority in the country. You won’t be told to cover your head but you can dress however you wish. It’s best to dress conservatively. Sari is women’s universal dress and a salwar kameez is also worn by both men and women, it’s a loose suit consisting of a top or kameez and a pair of flowing pants, called salwars.

me wearing a sari
My sis & I wearing Salwa Kameez

Food – Rice and fish are the staple. Fish, meats, poultry, and vegetables are cooked in spicy curry ( torkari ) sauces that includes cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, and other spices. Old Dhaka has cheap Bangladeshi food while in the upscale areas such as Gulshan and Banani you can find just about any type of cuisine you can imagine – Indian, Chinese, Thai, Greek, Mexican and franchises such as KFC, Pizza Hut, KFC etc. The “traditional way” is to eat with your right hand but many locals also use spoons. Tea (cha) is sweet and milky and are easily obtainable and it’s the cheapest drink of Bangladesh. In fact, it is easier to get a cup of hot tea than a glass of mineral water. 

Bengali food I cooked
Rice and Lentil soup

Alcohol-  Bangladesh is a dry country and alcoholic drinks are not much available in Bangladesh. The options to buy alcohol in Dhaka are quite limited given cultural and religious beliefs. It is regulated and restricted. Bangladesh has one of the lowest alcohol consumption in Asia according to a World Bank. 

People –Bangladeshis are outgoing and are hospitable and welcoming  and genuinely excited to meet and engage with travelers.  

we are playing carrom board on roof top
on the street of Dhaka

MISC Facts –

~Bangladesh is the heart of the world’s largest jute-growing region.

~You are able to get your own shoes made, custom to fit you, out of any colored leather, buckle, shape and size, etc made within a week

~Lifestyle is relaxed and easygoing for middle-class.

~ It has one of the largest coastal mangrove forests in the world, it forms part of the Sundarbans National Park, a World Heritage

~ Wedding here is grand and so is the Bengali food

There is no place like Bangladesh!

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