The capital city of Bangladesh is Dhaka. The offices of the Central Government and the Diplomatic Missions are based here. Dhaka is a sprawling city with few landmarks and newcomers usually take some time to find their sense of direction.
The principal areas are:
- The old town crowded along the River Buriganga and the site of most of the tourist attractions, the Lalbagh Fort, the Star Mosque, Nawab Ahsan Manzil and the Armenian Church.
- The spacious parkland suburb of Ramna. Most of the Government offices, two universities and the British Council are located in this area. The Secretariat Building, which houses most Government Ministries, is in Abdul Ghani Road. In colonial times Ramna was the administrative headquarters for East Bengal and several splendid buildings, principally Curzon Hall and the Supreme Court, survive from this period.
- East of Ramna and beyond the National Stadium lies the commercial area of Motijheel. Most of the large business houses and international firms and banks (Standard Chartered and Grindlays) are found in these areas.
- West of Ramna and the Mirpur Road are the residential areas of Dhanmondi, Lalmatia and Mohammadpur. The residential character of Dhanmondi is changing as more houses are converted into offices. The offices of most of the United Nations agencies are located in Dhanmondi, as are those of many international voluntary organisations. The British Council’s Teaching Centre is located in Dhanmondi.
- The massive National Assembly dominates Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, the site of the intended second capital in Pakistan days. The neighbouring red brick buildings are the houses of senior Government officials. The whole complex is the work of the American architect Louis Khan. The Planning Commission, the Agriculture Complex (Farmgate) and the Jute Research Institute are all in this area.
- Gulshan, Banani and Baridhara on the north side of the town in the direction of the Zia International Airport, are the new residential areas. The majority of the expatriate community lives in these areas. The British High Commission and most diplomatic missions are in Gulshan or Baridhara. A new British High Commission building was completed in Baridhara in 1992. The DFID office has moved from the High Commission to Gulshan Avenue.
Shopping in Dhaka
Bangladesh is a country with a rich tradition in handicrafts at throwaway prices. While the muslin of ancient Dhaka has faded into history, other products such as contemporary paintings, wood work, shital pati, bamboo decoration pieces, cane and conch shell products, gold and silver ornaments, cotton, silk, jute, reed, brassware, traditional dolls and leather goods also receive deep appreciation of the lovers of arts and crafts now and over the past centuries. In addition, Bangladesh is famous for freshwater and multicolored pearls.
Gold & Silver: A wide range of gold and silver ornaments, silver filigree work etc. is considered by many travellers to be unparalleled.
Brass & Copperware: Among the best buys here are brass and copperware trays, wall decorations; vases etc. all are hand made with fine engravings and filigree work. Products made from the hides and skins of animals and reptiles, intricate wood carvings, cane and bamboo products, conch shell, bangles, embroidered quilts, jamdani and silk fabrics can also be bought. These are available in DIT market and a number of exclusive shops in New Elephant Road, Dhaka.
Shopping Centres: Most hotels have their own shopping arcades and there are many handicraft shops in Dhaka and other towns. There are several supermarkets: Agora Gulshan Avenue, Nandan at Kamal Ataturk, which sell fresh fruits & vegetables etc. if you don’t want the hassle of the local covered markets. Bargaining is part of shopping in Bangladesh. Few places have “fixed prices” so bargaining is expected.
Where to shop
DIT 1 (Dhaka Improvement Trust): Furniture, second hand furniture groceries, household appliances, stationery, clothes and tailors, fruit and vegetables. Open 9.00 am to 8.00 pm. Some shops may close at 3.00 PM for a few hours.
DIT 2: Fresh produce, shops and restaurants. Brass shops and art galleries that also do picture framing. Sports equipment, electrical goods etc.
Agora: 80, Rifles Square, Road 2, Dhanmondi Dhaka & in Gulshan 1 (Supermarket)
Bashundara shopping complex, Pantha Path, has a cinema complex and a wide range of shops in this the largest shopping mall of Dhaka.
Nandan Mega Shop: NWJ (4) Kemal Ataturk Avenue, Gulshan Dhaka (Supermarket),
Aarong: This shop is modern, spacious and offers plenty of products. These range from furniture to clothes. The main attractions are textiles, lamps, bedcovers, clothes, cushions, brass and clay ornaments, pictures, books, fabric, candled and a café where excellent milkshakes are to be found.
1/1, Block A, Lalmatia, Mirpur Road, Dhaka
Tel: 8111607, 8111791
Gulshan- Tejgaon Link Road
Tel: 8821052, 8825986, Fax: 8828576 e- mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Banga Bazar: Crowded but a good place to scour cheap, clothing from Garment factories.
Navana Shopping Centre:
Gulshan-1, Dhaka, and Closed on Mondays
BDR Gate, Zigatola, Dhaka, Closed on Sunday
Mirpur Road, Dhaka. Closed on Mondays
Mirpur Road/ Pink City in Gulshan 1
Scarves silk/cotton great colours & good value
Gulshan Avenue: great for real heavy duty and fine silks in a wide range of colours.
Traditional Silk sarees
Mirpur Road and many centres in Gulshan Avenue, Dhanmondi
Indigo and other natural dyes block print Kameez,
Upstairs ‘ Journey into craft, households / clothes
Kamal Attaturk Avenue
Like Aarong, gifts, clothes and traditional crafts
Karika and other craft shops
Shopping centre opposite Dhaka Sheraton hotel
Designer Bibi Russell – Khadi type cloth and small household items
Gulshan Market: This covers a large area along Bangabandhu Avenue, and is good for clothes from the export sector. Open 10.00 am to 8.00 pm.