Monday, November 28

Staycations at Dhaka

Staycations are a new trend when Dhakaites are going in for one day vacation

Dhaka as the vast metropolis can be quite exhausting to the senses. This is perhaps best dealt with some quiet time, away from the bustle. With the scarcity of free time, it becomes imperative that residents find getaways that can be reached quickly, enjoyed for a while and allow for coming back to the city all within the day.

As Bangladesh is predominantly a riverine country, it is no wonder that many such getaways are likely to be near rivers or ghats, those ever-present boat terminals tucked away in all villages, beside every stream.

Mawa Ghat

A favoured destination for many residents of Dhaka, this ghat is even less than 40 km away from the main city. Beside the River Padma, this ghat attracts different kinds of enthusiasts like the nature lover and the fish fan. Of course, there is the river, deceptive in its serenity, on which visitors can take a gentle boat ride by hiring motorboats on an hourly basis, easily available for a group as large as 20-30 people. If wishful, the boat can be banked on one of the sandy shores of the river and the gentle slope into the water allows for a quick cool dip. It is however advisable to not go into the deep waters and there are no places to change clothes except the makeshift facility that can be created on the boat.

The other attraction of the ghat is the fish, which can be bought by early birds, so to speak, as the market sits right after sunrise and is usually over by 8:30 am. However, if you simply want to enjoy a steaming piece of the nation-favourite Hilsha fried with boiled rice and daal (lentil soup), it can be easily had at almost all times of the day. There is also the Padma Resort nearby, which offers overnight stay along with food provisions.


Bhawal National Park, Gazipur

Age-old timberland stretched over large pristine spaces is easily accessible right outside the city border of Dhaka, barely an hour’s drive. Of the once vast forests, much has fallen victim to illegal logging, but the rest is now preserved as a reserve forest accessible from the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway in Gazipur. On an area of 12,404 acres, the main trees type here is the Shal (shorea robusta), giving the region its lyrical name of Shalbon. It is an attraction for the tree lover, with more than 221 types of botanical species including many medicinal plants as well. The wildlife is also varied and includes species like crocodiles, tigers, monkeys, porcupines, foxes, pythons, and wild cats. The park offers facilities like specified picnic spots, rest houses, which need to be booked in advance.


Sonakanda Fort, Narayanganj

This Mughal fort in Narayanganj is also a remnant of Bengal’s rich past. Originally built as the second line of defense to check the advance of Mogh and Portuguese pirates on the rivers, it lies on the eastern bank of the Shitalakshya River. Although the construction of the fort is attributed to Mir Jumla, there is no inscription.

The local people in Narayanganj know it as the Kella (fort), and it is easy to secure directions while traveling there. The local hotels in the city are quite good for eating.


Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka

Right outside the capital, some 30 km away, is the lush green campus of Jahangirnagar University. It is a residential university, sprawled over 700 acres, the main body of the campus is very welcoming to visitors. There are lakes, walkways and of course the big, draughty, yet inviting academic and other building. The best time to visit is during winter when hundreds of migratory birds make the numerous lakes their home. The water lilies and myriad other colorful flowers are welcome sights to cool the eyes too. Visitors can explore the campus on foot or hire rickshaws. Cars are better left in the parking area, for they allow limited access to all that the university has to offer in terms of worthwhile views and memories. The on-campus food shops, serving simple yet delicious local cuisine, are very affordable. There is however no scope of staying in the night.



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