Wooden sailing ships leaving a jetty on the Buriganga, their cargo holds filled with fine Muslin cloth, jute, blue and soap, sailing to Jeddah and Basrah, and on to Europe.
A caravan of camels making their steady way through the Khybar Pass…
Or sure-footed horses climbing through the mountains of China - laden with the same
And look at the elegant Nawab! He smokes only the very best fragrant Persian tobacco.
See the muslin weaver working at his loom? What elegant garments were made from this cloth.
These are all tales of a thriving trading port in the Bengal province: the city of Dhaka.
Dhaka is an ancient city situated in the populous and flood-prone Ganges-Brahmaputra delta. Its chronicled history dates back to 1000 AD, and bears testimony to the fact that diverse civilizations and cultures met in the Bengal delta. However, the city only gained prominence in the 17th century as the provincial capital of the Mughal Empire and grew into a key trading port. During this period it became famous as the city of mosques and the producer of fine muslin cloth. It came under British control in 1765. With the partition of British India in 1947, Dhaka (then spelt Dacca) became the capital of the Pakistan province of East Bengal, and in 1956 it was declared the capital of East Pakistan. The city suffered heavy damage during the 1971 war of independence before becoming the capital of newly independent Bangladesh in December 1971.
Today Dhaka is a major commercial, cultural, and manufacturing center. In 2008 the city celebrated 400 years as a capital.
Over the next few weeks, I intend to take you on a tour of my beloved city. I hope you’ll enjoy the visit as much as I’ll enjoy playing guide.