Last modified: 2009-05-18 by ian macdonald
Keywords: bangladesh | dhaka |
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by Arnaud Leroy
Dhaka is often written Dacca in other languages; I guess this was also the
spelling used during the British colonial rule.
Dhaka is located north of the Barignaga, an arm of the river Dhaleswari (a tributary of the Ganges). The name of Dhaka might come from the tree called dhak, which was common in the past in the area, or from the goddess Dhakeswari (the Hidden Goddess) whose mausoleum is located in the western part of the city.
The settlement of Dhaka seems to date at least back to the first millennium BC. However, the city became important only in the XVIIth century, when it was the capital city of the Bengal province (1608-1639; 1660-1704) in the Moguls' Empire. Dhaka was then a wealthy city and a center of maritime trade with British, Dutch and French merchants. Several monuments were built during that period, including the Lal Balg fort (1678), the Bara Katra (Great Caravanseral, 1664), the Klotra Katra (Little Caravanseral, 1663) and the Shi'ite monument of Husayni-Dalan (1642). The Hindu Dhakeswari temple and the Portuguese church of Tejgaon also date from the XVIIth century. Most of the 700 mosques of the city, including the Bayt al-Mukarram, however, date back to the XVth century. There are also Burmese and Thai temples in Dhaka.
In 1704, the capital city of the province was moved to Murshidabad and the muslin industry started to decline. Dhaka was under the British rule from 1765 and its decline was not stopped until the city was made the capital city of Eastern Bengal and Assam (1905-1912). Dhaka was the capital city of East Pakistan in 1956. The city was strongly damaged during the independence war which ended with the formation of Bangladesh in 1971.
Dhaka and its outskirts have today some 13 millions inhabitants. Its river port is located in Narayanganj, 16 km south of the center of the city. Traditional productions of the city are the jamdani muslin, embroidery, silk and jewels. Factories located in the periphery of the city process rice, jute, cotton and food products. A university was founded in Dhaka in 1921. The Parliament and the town planning of Dhaka were designed by the American architect (of Estonian origin) Louis Isidore Kahn (1901-1974) in 1962.
Ivan Sache, 25 December 2004