The capital of a country is the hub for all major activities such as commerce, investment and development. Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh but it has only been since 1947 when it was declared as the capital of the East Bengal and even after 1971, Dhaka has remained as the capital of the nation. But today ,we will be exploring Sonargaon, the ancient capital of Bangladesh, which has become a popular tourist destination in Dhaka and is visited by numerous local and international tourists. It is located around 14 kilometers from Dhaka city in the Southeast side of the Dhaka-Chittagong highway. The word Sonargaon means the “Golden Village”. It was established as the capital city in the 14th century by Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah (it was then known as Subarnogram).
Places to Explore: There are numerous relics and architectural remains located in Sonargaon. Some examples are the Single domed mosque of Mograpara, Tomb of Ponakai Diwana, Tomb of Munna Shah Darwesh and the Single Domed square mosque built by the Sultan Jalauddin Fateh Shah. Khasnagar Dighi is also another notable attraction. There are also numerous large ponds in the area which were used by the weavers to wash cotton threads for producing the famous Muslin fabric. Sonargaon is divided by the Dhaka Chittagong Highway into two unequal halves. The larger side is Panam, which is located in the North. And the smaller one in Mohrapara, located in the South.
Panam Nagar was once known as the Hindu capital city of Sonargaon. However, some muslims lived in the southern part of the region. Residences of early Muslim governors were also located here. Panam Nagar is protected by artificial canals all around. The architecture of this region was developed during the Pre-Mughal era and later during the British rule. Photo Credit: Nijhoom.com
Neel Kuthi: During the British rule, a building was constructed by the East India Company at Dalalpur which is in the vicinity of Panam. It is located in the North of the Dalalpur Bridge on the eastern side of the road. It was built initially for the purchasing and trading of Muslin. It is a quadrangular two stories brick building with a courtyard. The building started right from the edge of the road and is separated by a plinth. The rear of the building is composed of blank walls. The main entrance is located on the road and the other entrance is in the middle of the North wall. Over the years, the original structure of the building has vanished. Thus, only records tell us about the architectural design as well as the character of the original building and how the decorations expressed the transposition from European architecture with the blending of Mughal architecture. Originally the structure had a flat front facade with regular arched windows and door openings.
Folk Art Museum:
This is one of the main attractions of Sonargaon. The Folk Art Museum was established in the year 1975 in order to fulfill the dream of the famous painter Shilpacahrya Zainul Abedin. It has a very rich collection of folk artifacts and objects made from different materials. These are the true reflections of our local sentiments, temperaments, idiosyncrasies as well as the skills and expertise of the artisans. It is actually a national institution representing the traditional art and heritage of Bangladesh. There are two galleries in the museum.
- Wood Cutting Gallery
- Embroidered Quilt and Jamdani Gallery
- Friday 10AM-12Noon and 2PM-5PM
- Saturday to Wednesday 10AM to 5PM
- Closed on Thursday and on all government holidays
The entry fee is BDT 10
How to reach the site
- Direct bus from Dhaka
- Sonargaon Express from Gulistan
On an average it takes 45 minutes to reach Sonargaon from Dhaka. Interested tourists can purchase packaged tours offered by Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation and private tour operators.
Places to eat: There are several Chinese, Thai and Indian cuisine restaurants in Sonargaon. A few fast food restaurants have also sprung up in the area in recent years. There is also a small cafeteria in the Folk Art Museum.