I have to be brutally honest when I admit that I had very little preconceived expectations when I arrived in Bangladesh. Outlining my plan to travel from Rajasthan to Kolkata it made logistical sense to finish my journey across the subcontinent in nearby neighboring Bangladesh: another stamp in my passport, another feather in my cap. When I discovered that I could find a cheap flight with Air Asia from Dhaka to Kuala Lumpur I quickly pounced on an advance seat sale. What I never would have expected was that my only regret about coming to Bangladesh was that I didn’t schedule a longer visit.
It’s impossible not to compare India with Bangladesh. Although India is exceptionally diverse from region to region it does share certain similarities across the board. When I arrived in Bangladesh it was a whole different story.
As a potential tourist destination it is well off the radar and one rarely encounters other backpackers or travellers.
I found this presented numerous opportunities to interact with locals in more genuine and sincere manner. People were literally in ‘awe’ of my presence as I roamed the hectic quarters of Old Dhaka.
I was greeted by locals of all ages and at certain given points in time I had a large following trailing behind me. I’ll never forget that experience as long as I live.
One quickly notices that Old Dhaka is a bustling hive of activity dominated by male driven labor. I didn’t make a typo here. In stark contrast from India, where bright saris were seen around every corner, the streets of Bangladesh were littered with men performing blue collar tasks. Even the main Buriganga river nearby the Sadarghat was equally as hectic.
The following photo essay captures some of the most candid moments I encountered on the street.
Street Scenes in Old Dhaka, Bangladesh
A Bangladeshi man carries a large basket on his head supported by only one arm – Old Dhaka, Bangladesh.
A Bangladeshi man gracefully carries an empty basket in one hand that is larger than his entire upper body – Old Dhaka, Bangladesh.
A Bangladeshi man firmly grasps a bulk collection of brightly coloured fabrics tied together in a bundle – Old Dhaka, Bangladesh.
A group of Bangladeshi men haul a heavy load on a cart – Old Dhaka, Bangladesh.
A group of Bangladeshi men wander down the side walk carrying big empty baskets – Old Dhaka, Bangladesh.
A man crouches down beside a collection of cables spread out across the ground – Old Dhaka, Bangladesh.
A man pounds together and moulds ingredients with his hands – Old Dhaka, Bangladesh.
A close up perspective of a cart (from behind) with a man pulling on it – Old Dhaka, Bangladesh.
A massive crowd of local Bangladeshi men gather amidst the announcement of a street side sale – Old Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Two men push and pull a cart filled to the brim while another man sits comfortably on top of the load – Old Dhaka, Bangladesh.
A close-up shot of a man hauling several live birds in both of his hands – Old Dhaka, Bangladesh.
A makeshift bicycle turned into a rickshaw bares the weight of a heavy load that appears to be way beyond capacity – Old Dhaka, Bangladesh.
A man sits high atop of a large load on a rickshaw as a man in front of him is burdened with the task of moving everything forward.
Old Dhaka History
Old Dhaka is a historic district located in the heart of the capital city of Bangladesh. It is a melting pot of cultures, religions, and traditions that have come together over centuries to form a unique and vibrant community.
The history of Old Dhaka dates back to the 7th century when it was founded by the Buddhists. Over the centuries, it was ruled by various Hindu and Muslim dynasties, each leaving their mark on the city’s cultural and architectural landscape.
The Mughal period was a particularly important time for Old Dhaka. Under Mughal rule, the city became an important center for trade, culture, and education. It was known as the “Venice of the East” due to its many canals and waterways, which were used for transportation and trade. The Mughals built many magnificent buildings and mosques in Old Dhaka, including the Lalbagh Fort, Ahsan Manzil, and the Star Mosque.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, the British East India Company established a trading post in Dhaka and gradually took over control of the city. This period saw significant changes to Old Dhaka, with many European-style buildings and structures being constructed. The influence of British colonialism is still visible in the district today, with many old buildings retaining their colonial architecture.
After the partition of India in 1947, Dhaka became the capital of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), and Old Dhaka continued to be an important cultural and commercial center. However, rapid urbanization and development in the latter half of the 20th century led to the decline and neglect of many historic buildings in Old Dhaka.
In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in preserving and restoring the historic buildings and landmarks of Old Dhaka. The government and various organizations have taken steps to protect the district’s rich cultural heritage, and there has been a growing appreciation for the value of its architecture and history.
Old Dhaka is now a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, who come to explore its winding alleyways, bustling markets, and historic landmarks. The district is home to many religious sites, including Hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries, and Islamic mosques, reflecting the diversity of Bangladesh’s religious traditions.
Despite the challenges that Old Dhaka has faced over the years, it remains a vibrant and culturally rich district, full of life, color, and history. Its unique blend of ancient and modern, traditional and cosmopolitan, makes it a fascinating place to explore and a testament to the resilience and creativity of the people who have lived there for centuries.
Old Dhaka Travel Photography Tips
Old Dhaka is a fascinating and visually rich district with plenty of opportunities for photography. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your photography experience in Old Dhaka:
- Respect the locals: Before taking any photos, it’s important to seek permission from the people you want to photograph. Be respectful and courteous, and try to engage with the locals before asking for a photo. Many people in Old Dhaka are happy to have their picture taken, but it’s important to be mindful of their privacy and dignity.
- Be prepared for crowds: Old Dhaka is a bustling and crowded district, so be prepared for crowds and noise. Be patient and wait for the right moment to capture your shot, and consider using a tripod or other stabilizing equipment to avoid blurry photos.
- Look for unique angles: Old Dhaka is full of interesting architecture, colorful markets, and unique people. Look for creative angles and perspectives to capture the essence of the district. Consider shooting from above, getting close to your subjects, or using reflections in water or mirrors to add interest to your photos.
- Be aware of your surroundings: Old Dhaka can be a chaotic and sometimes challenging place to photograph, so it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and stay safe. Keep your gear close to you, avoid crowded areas if possible, and be mindful of your personal belongings.
- Capture the local culture: Old Dhaka is known for its rich cultural heritage, so try to capture the local traditions and customs in your photos. Look for street vendors, musicians, and local craftspeople to showcase the unique culture of the district.
- Experiment with different lighting: Old Dhaka can be a challenging place to photograph due to the harsh sunlight and shadows. Experiment with different lighting conditions, such as early morning or late afternoon, to capture the best possible photos.
Remember to always be respectful of the local culture and traditions, and have fun exploring and capturing the unique beauty of Old Dhaka.
Street Photography Tips For Old Dhaka
Street photography is a dynamic and exciting form of photography that involves capturing candid moments of people in public spaces. It’s a great way to document the energy and diversity of the world around us, but it also requires a certain level of skill and technique to capture great shots. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your street photography experience.
- Be observant: To capture great street photographs, you need to be observant and aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to the people, places, and moments around you, and be ready to capture them when they happen. Keep your camera ready at all times, and be prepared to shoot at a moment’s notice.
- Respect people’s privacy: It’s important to be respectful of people’s privacy when taking street photographs. Avoid invading their personal space or taking photos of them in situations where they may feel uncomfortable or vulnerable. If someone asks you not to take their photo, respect their wishes and move on.
- Use a wide-angle lens: A wide-angle lens can help you capture more of the scene and create a sense of depth and perspective in your photos. It can also help you get up close to your subjects without invading their personal space. Consider using a 28mm or 35mm lens for street photography.
- Be patient: Street photography requires patience and a willingness to wait for the right moment to capture your shot. Be patient and ready to snap your photo when the perfect moment presents itself. Don’t be afraid to wait for a few minutes in one spot to capture the perfect shot.
- Pay attention to light: Lighting is key in any form of photography, and street photography is no exception. Pay attention to the light and use it to create mood and drama in your photos. Consider shooting during the golden hour or using shadows to add interest to your images.
- Experiment with different angles: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different angles and perspectives in your street photography. Try shooting from above, below, or at eye-level to create a unique and dynamic composition. Look for interesting lines and shapes in your scene to add depth and interest to your photos.
- Look for contrast: Contrast can add interest and drama to your street photographs. Look for contrasting colors, textures, or elements in your scene to create a visually dynamic image. Consider shooting in black and white to emphasize contrast and create a timeless and classic look.
Remember to always be respectful of people’s privacy and cultural norms when taking street photographs. Street photography is a great way to capture the energy and diversity of the world around us, so go out there and start shooting! With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to capture stunning and memorable street photographs.