To enjoy your Dhaka holidays, set aside your monochrome sensibilities and prepare to plunge into a kaleidoscopic world of colour.
As you explore Bangladesh’s bustling capital city, you will encounter every conceivable hue on the colour spectrum. Feast your eyes on the luminous fabrics, the decorated rickshaws, the monumental buildings, and the diverse cuisines, to name a few.
For travellers looking to capture the densely populated city’s relentless energy in the form of stunning photos, follow our guide to six Dhaka places of interest that are highly recommended by photography enthusiasts.
For a classic holiday snapshot, make this striking “pink palace” your first port of call while in Dhaka.
Formerly a sheikh’s residence, Ahsan Manzil was turned into a French trading post during the colonial era. In 1872, the building was converted into a palace and given its present name by Nawab Abdul Ghani, the city’s wealthiest landowner at the time.
Hit by a tornado nearly two decades later, the palace suffered considerable damage. During the reconstruction process, its trademark dome was fitted in, purportedly to mimic the appearance of a lotus flower bud.
Today, the palace functions as a museum where visitors can view photos of its 23 rooms (taken during its heyday), as well as family portraits and other artefacts belonging to the Nawab family.
At Sadarghat, hundreds of boats, barges, and ferries depart and arrive daily. On average, up to 30,000 people pass through the terminal each day.
Train your sights on the fishermen, boatmen, and cargo handlers as they ply their trades from their traditional boats, or zoom out for a panoramic view of the river and its daily traffic.
For a close-up experience, seek permission to set foot on a docked ferry, or approach a boatman for a river tour.
Immerse yourself in the beautiful chaos of Dhaka’s street bazaars, and look out for photo opportunities amidst the jumble of wares and the thronging crowds.
Wholesale marketplace Kawran Bazar (also known as Karwan Bazar) is “recommended for photographers, or people who just like a bit of market mayhem,” according to one TripAdvisor review.
Likewise, Chawk Bazar is a repository for daily goods ranging from the commonplace to the bizarre, and it should throw up a wealth of interesting photo opportunities alongside the occasional unexpected find.
For an iconic photo memento, visit the National Parliament House, which was designed by American architect Louis Kahn.
With its clean lines and bold geometric shapes, this building makes a simple yet strong statement about power and presence. Aptly so, considering that it is home to all of Bangladesh’s parliamentary activity.
Planning for the National Parliament House began in 1959, when Bangladesh was still under the rule of Pakistan. The project took on new meaning after Bangladesh declared independence in late 1971. Upon the building’s completion in 1982, it became a national symbol of democracy and pride.
Although the main building is not open to visitors, there are no access restrictions for the rest of the complex and its surrounding lake and park. Visitors can also search online for private tours conducted by knowledgeable locals.
5. Rickshaw Art
With your camera, bear witness to the compelling art of rickshaw painting, which is in danger of dying out.
Unique to this part of the world, an artist takes two to three days to hand-paint the different parts of a rickshaw, turning it into a mobile museum that showcases themes close to the artist’s heart.
Rickshaw painting is a tradition dating back to the 1950s, where Dhaka’s rickshaw drivers relied on vibrant artwork and decorations to attract their passengers’ attentions.
Today, digital printing is considered a more convenient and affordable alternative to hand painting. Fortunately, a handful of artists continue to operate their rickshaw workshops in Old Dhaka, such as in Hussaini Dalan and Badda, as well as on Sarder Street.
Visitors can visit the workshops to see the artists at work, and request for made-to-order art in the form of painted vinyl fabrics and metal plates—rickshaw painters are usually happy to oblige.
6. Lalbagh Fort
Part mosque, part tomb, and part palace, the Lalbagh Fort is a monument to the glorious reign of the Mughal rulers during the 17th century. This incomplete structure was built by a Mughal prince (Muhammad Azam), who was the third son of the legendary leader Aurangzeb.
According to historians, Shaista Khan was the subahdar (governor in Persian Urdu language) during that time. Charged with completing the fort, he later abandoned his efforts and deemed the fort as unlucky after his daughter died there. A tomb was thus erected at the site to commemorate her passing.
Designed in the characteristic Mughal style of architecture, the buildings have been submitted for consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
More photo opportunities await you as you savour the culinary delights of Dhaka—read our Dhaka food guide for recommendations. Our team at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Dhaka can also advise you on fun things to do in Dhaka, and places to visit outside Dhaka.