Dhaka is the capital and one of the oldest cities of Bangladesh. The history of it begins with the existence of urbanized settlements in the area since the 7th century. The city area was ruled by the Buddhist kingdom of Kamarupa before passing to the control of the Sena dynasty. After the Sena dynasty, Dhaka was successively ruled by the Turkic and Afghan governors descending from the Delhi Sultanate before the arrival of the Mughals. After Mughals, British ruled the region for over 150 years until the independence of India. In 1947, it became the capital of the East Bengal province under the dominion of Pakistan. After the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, Dhaka became the capital of the new state.
Today, modernization has almost removed all the traces of past and traditions. However one exception is a part of the city called ‘Old Dhaka’. Here narrow lanes are congested with old buildings and packed with liveliness of a deeply connected community. This place never sleeps and full of hustle and bustle of everyday business, most of which are small family run shops. Religious and cultural activities are the most important practices for these people. Everyday there is something happening. During the special events it becomes intriguing to observe how private and public spaces merge as well as how the whole community cooperates despite their differences.
The journey through old Dhaka gives a feeling of time travelling back to the roots. The essence is similar to the one found in old novels. It is both a sensory and spiritual experience. As if the people here have rejected the mechanization of life and decided to find an alternative by staying true to the core. There are obviously complexity and confrontation of time as nothing is perfect and permanent. But that is another story for another time.
Old Dhaka – to the core
Black and white photographs, 2009 – 2011.