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Dhaka, formerly known & spelled as “Dacca” is the capital city of Bangladesh located on the bank of river Buriganga. It is the principal city of Dhaka division which is divided into two city corporations, North Dhaka & South Dhaka. This Mega City is the main bloodstream of Bangladesh with a total population of 15 million.
Dhaka is an ancient city with a great historical significance that made this city one of the most desired destinations of the world. It is considered as the 9th largest city in the world & one of the major cities in South Asia.
Dhaka is famous & known as the “City of Mosques” because of the density of mosques in the city area creates a beautiful music during the Azan, five times a day. Around half millions of Rickshaws [a local transport] are running in this city as a main transport that locals use for a short distance ride and this is the obvious reason for describing Dhaka as the “Rickshaw Capital of the World”.
The elongated history of Dhaka from 7th century till now can be divided into different ruling period where the history of Dhaka begins with the existence of urbanized settlements in the area that is now Dhaka dating from the 7th century CE, ruled by the Buddhist and Hindu empires.
Buddhist & Hindu Rule:
The Buddhist rulers or the Pala Empire ruled over Dhaka from 8th century to late 11th century and used Vikrampur [currently known as “Bikrampur” a region nearby Dhaka] as their capital to control their whole ruling area that includes 4,600,000 sq. km [Bangladesh, India, Pakistan & Afghanistan].
Hindu rulers or the Sena Dynasty started ruling this region in 1095 CE & largely Hindu community populated the lower Dhaka region where some of the finest Hindu craftsmen & professionals got settled here and contributed in the economy along with the history. According to some popular legend, Dhakeshwari Temple was built during the Sena dynasty by Raja Ballal Sena [second ruler of Sena dynasty] & some sayings relate the naming of Dhaka with this historical temple. They continued their ruling in this part till early 14th century before the Muslim ruler took over this region.
Sultanate or Muslim Rule:
During the Sultanate period [14th to 16th century], this region was ruled by some Muslim Turkish and Afghani rulers. It is said that during the Sultanate period this region witnessed many famous & glorious historical movement along with some beautiful architectural site [some of them still exists].
The Afghan rulers built a fort that time, known as “Old Fort of Dhaka” which was later converted to the present Dhaka Central Jail in 1820 by the British rulers. That fort was considered as the largest & strongest fort in pre-Mughal era.
The tomb of Shah Ali Baghdadi & Binat Bibi Mosque are some of the finest existing structure, built in Dhaka during the Sultanate period.
In 1610 the Mughals took control over this region by General Islam Khan Chisti and shifted the capital of Bengal from Rajmahal to Dhaka with a new name “Jahangirnagar” [City of Jahangir] followed
by the name of Mughal emperor of that time “Jahangir”. Throughout the Mughal period Dhaka became a centre of the worldwide Muslim trade while the famous Muslin fabric was produced and traded from this area.
Some of the important architectural construction was done during the Mughal era [16th to 17th century] like, Bara Katra [Official Residence of Second Mughal General, Price Shuja], Choto Katra [Official Residence of Mughal governor Shaista Khan], Chawk Mosque, Babubazar Mosque, Sat Gumbad Mosque, Bibi Pari Tomb, Bibi Champa Tomb and Dara Begum Tomb. Most importantly the construction of Lalbagh Fort was started during that time but remain incomplete for some political reason. It is believed that the largest expansion of the city took place under the Mughal governor Shaista Khan who was referred as ""the uncle of King Aurangzeb and the cleverest man in his entire kingdom"".
Though the Nawab Era was carried by the Mughal Governors Shujauddin Khan, Sarfaraz Khan, Alivardi Khan and Sirajuddaula but they were unofficially known as Nawabs or Nawabs of Bengal. Among them Sirajuddaula was famous as a king who was deceived by his own minister Mir Jafar and led to the beginning of the British era in this region.
The British came to this region with the name “British East India Company” and transferred Dhaka to the first Governor William Hedges with a new name “Dacca”. Under British rule Dhaka got the modern touch of civilization with many educational institutions, public works and townships. A modern water supply system & electric supply was introduced during the English rule.
The Bengal zamindars got recognition after agreeing with the British East India Company on fixing revenues to be raised from land which led them to be the largest zamindari in Eastern Bengal. That time the “Ahsan Manjil” or “Pink Palace” was built as a palace for the Nawabs of Dhaka.
After Indian Rebellion in 1857 the British Crown directly took control of this region and established Dacca Municipality [Dhaka City Corporation]. For the period of British Crown ruling Dacca got more modernized with the railway construction and with other important construction like “Curzon Hall” by Lord Curzon in 1904, Eden College & the University of Dhaka by Lord Hardinge that took place in 1921 after the partition of Bengal.
The partition of India in 1947 was based on religious demographics that led to the creation of the sovereign states of the Dominion of Pakistan & the Union of India and Dhaka became the capital of East Bengal, Pakistan. That time Dhaka received hundreds of thousands of Muslim immigrants from India where India got the same Hindu immigrants from this part of Pakistan. From the very beginning of the partition of India, Pakistan confronted with the Bengali Language Movement by East Bengal while the West Bengal authority tried to impose Urdu as the only state language over Bengali in East Bengal. The language movement achieved Bengali as the state language of East Bengal in February 21st, 1952.
It was 1968 when Dhaka witnessed a mass movement by the East Bengal against the West Pakistan which later led to the Independence War of Bangladesh in 1971 & that was the end of the Pakistan rule over Bangladesh.
The people of Bangladesh got their victory over Pakistan rule in 16th December, 1971 and recognized as an Independent country to the world while Dhaka became the capital of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.