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The word ‘Puran’ translates to ‘Old’ in English and hence the old part of town is commonly known as ‘Puran Dhaka’ among locals. Every time someone enounces the name, it reminds of our long tradition, 400 years of history and of course food. Yet there is more to old Dhaka than you can see from outside. Here, almost every day is festive because of the residents and the culture, like Dhaka hasn’t changed a bit throughout the time. The old town is a vast locality, and there is so much to explore and experience in this part of the city.

Why not start with finding out about the things this area is famous for?

Mouthwatering Foods & Drinks

Bakorkhani of Puran Dhaka
Locals cannot imagine starting the day without a piece of Bakorkhani with their morning tea

Food and Puran Dhaka are like two peas in a pod. One is incomplete without the other. Some of the foods here are traditional, and rest is modern fusion. Locals are mostly attracted to the traditionals. Biriyani is by far the most popular food item in Puran Dhaka. Prepared with proteins like mutton, chicken or beef, this rice-based food recipe is derived originally from the Mughals. Only a handful of places in Old Dhaka serve the authentic cuisine, rest are just copied.

However, Dhaka has its own food, and nothing is more ‘Dhakaiya’ (represents Dhaka) than a crispy Bakorkhani. Coupled with a hot cup of tea, this snack is the most popular among the residents. If you plan to visit Old Dhaka, Bakorkhani is a must have food item. Same goes for ‘Beauty Lassi’ (chilled yogurt drink) too. Wait till you try.

Festival & Culture of ‘Puran Dhaka’

fireworks of Old Dhaka
The eye-catching fireworks at night after the Sakrain fest in Old Dhaka

Living in Old Dhaka has its own taste, and people are drawn to it. Unlike other parts of Dhaka, the old town has a distinct culture. People are much friendlier and love to pamper others, especially the guests. The bond in the apartment communities is strong as residents frequently check up on each other where nowadays people hardly pay attention to their neighbors.

Festivals are celebrated with joy and active participation of all age groups. A famous festival in Old Dhaka is ‘Sakrain’ where people host kite flying competition followed by mesmerizing fireworks at night. Normally it’s organized at the end of Bengali month ‘Poush.’ Also, Holi, the famous religious festival of Hindus, is observed with great importance and excitement. People all over the town gather here as no other Holi celebrations can beat the fun of Old Dhaka.

Wholesale Market

clothes stacked
Shopkeepers around the town visit old Dhaka to get their supply as it is famous for quality and reasonable price

There was a time when old town was the only place for business and trades due to easy access of Buriganga river. Therefore, most of the factories were built nearby. With time, business saw expansion and so did the city, however, the root is left untouched. That’s why, old Dhaka is also famous for businesses, especially in the wholesale market. For instance, Islampur is known for clothes and fabrics, Patuatuli for sunglasses and spectacles and the Bongobazar market for bulk trades. Most of the markets and shopping malls in Dhaka get their supply from here. Therefore, those who have the willingness to bypass the middleman and purchase home essentials for a low price, they directly go to old Dhaka.

Historical Landmarks

A side view of the historical Lalbagh Fort in Old Dhaka
A side view of the historical Lalbagh Fort in Puran Dhaka

Dhaka has undergone several empires and rulers since it’s habitation. During British colonization, people and merchants from around the world came in this subcontinent and lived for a specified period of time. Such diversity led the creation of marvelous architectures which we now know as famous landmarks of Dhaka. Among them, Lalbagh Fort, Ahsan Manjil and  Tara (Star) Mosque are some notable mentions. Each of these three has its own history. Currently, Bangladesh Government has taken charge of these historical places and turned them into museums. Except for Star Mosque, which is still a sacred prayer hall for Muslims. For a few bucks, you can visit these places and learn more about how and why they are a tourist attraction in Dhaka.

Hubspot For Machine Geeks

Lined up car engines in Dholaikhal, ready to be replaced as a mod for the new owner
Lined up car engines in Dholaikhal, ready to be replaced as a mod for the new owner

Need car mods? Dholaikhal is the best place for spare parts with inexpensive price tags. From VVT-i to V8, Corsa to Mercedes, bikes to airplanes junks, name anything and chances are this places have it already. Throw any mod requirements at them, and if there is the slightest possibility of reconstructing what you say, most likely you will get it. That’s why Dholaikhal is immensely popular among machine geeks and car fanatics.

Horse Carriage

A horse carriage carrying passengers in the streets of old Dhaka
A horse carriage carrying passengers in the streets of old Dhaka

Lastly, horse carriage, a true symbol of Dhaka. Visit Gulistan and adjacent areas, and you will find carriages lined up waiting for fares. Back in the times, only royals used to travel in such transportation and considered a mark of aristocracy. Time has changed, and with faster alternatives, horse carriages are no longer the regular commute but used for fun tours and sightseeing. Some people brilliantly use horse carriages for mass advertising as it is still a huge attraction for locals.

It is not possible to encapsulate every bit of Puran Dhaka in a single piece of writing. However, these are the essence of the things in old Dhaka. For more, don’t just sit there, go out there and visit the place by yourself!

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