May 24, 2009


[image credits: all images are from ‘Photographic Album of Old Dhaka’ – Bangladesh National Museum, 2003]

Dhaka turns 400 in 2010 and for this special occasion I dug out my book on photographs of Old Dhaka. Below are some samples from this treasure. The book was published by Bangladesh National Museum using, mainly, photographs from its own collection. Most of these photographs were taken before First World War and you can tell some of them are not in the best of shape. But we are fortunate that this collection has survived the years and we can now view it beautifully printed on thick glossy paper. You should be able to find a copy of this book at the gift store of Bangladesh National Museum. If not, then, you are out of luck [sorry]!

A little background history – Dhaka was founded in 1610 to be the provincial capital of Bengal during the Mughal period, though it lost this position to Murshidabad in 1717. It was again, briefly, capital of East Bengal & Assam during the 1st partition of Bengal [1905-12]. And, finally, it was crowned the capital of independent Bangladesh in 1971. On photography – according to the book, the technique of photography first came to Bengal in the 1840s. By the 1850s it had gained momentum, picked up some steam, and, to this day, is moving along with great speed in the Bangladeshi art scene.

Do take note of the different architectural styles: from pre-Mughal to Mughal to British Victorian. And, be sure to scroll down to the end of this post to see a map of Dhaka from 1862! 


[above image: Dhakeswari Temple, circa 1880s.] 


[above image: Farrukh Siyar’s Mosque near the South Gate of Lalbagh Fort, circa 1880s.] 


[above image: Husaini Dalan, 1900.] 


[above image: The photo on the left is circa 1880s. The one on the right is of Ahsan Manzil, 1904.] 


[above image: Dhaka College, 1890.] 


[above image: Two members of the Nawab family. The woman on the right was one of the first Muslim female graduates from Calcutta University. She graduated in 1927 with a degree in Sanskrit.]   

[above image: Dilkhusha Garden House Complex, 1880s.]  

[above image: Map of Old Dhaka, 1862]



6 Responses to “”

  1. Shahreen Says:


    This is very impressive, and the pictures are amazing. We have not taken much effort to restore our history especially places like Sonargaon, Lal Bager Kella, Ahsan Manzil etc. It’s great that you took the time to compile these pictures and the information for what I believe captures much of our history and heritage some of which has been lost for this generation. Awesome job! & I look forward to more.

  2. […] brass accessories were bought from Dhakeswari Temple in Old Dhaka. You can check out the post on Old Dhaka [May 24, 2009] to see a photograph of Dhakeswari Temple from […]

  3. Jasmine Says:

    Labiba – all the pictures are amazing – what a great way to portray life in Bangladesh in ways many don’t get exposed to abroad!!!

  4. Reaz Hassan Says:

    I have in my collection a copy of the ‘Photographic Album of Old Dhaka’ published by the Bangladesh National Museum in 2003. The restored pictures have given us a virtual visual reliving in Dhaka from the 1850s through to the 1920s. It is unbelievable that a government organization would take such pains to bring out a rare creative work of such stupendous quality. The editor, Iftikhar-ul-Awwal, and his team of experts deserve national recognition for this wonderful work of exceptional merit. They have bequeathed to the nation an awesome heritage work. Thanks.

  5. mmm Says:

    Fine work

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: