03/08: Old Dhaka

Today was split between a tour of a few neighborhoods in Old Dhaka and attending half of the Asia Cup final between the cricket teams of Pakistan and Sri Lanka. We started out in Shakhari Bazaar, one of the oldest parts of Dhaka and one of the most Hindu. The main street is lined with 3-6 story buildings on either side, some as narrow as 8′ across. There had been some attempts by the government to restrict development here and create a historic district, but nothing has been enforced yet and much of the neighborhood has changed in the last few years. A number of store front Hindu temples lined the street, along with a few food stalls and tea stands. Most of the storefronts were still closed, on account of it being early on the weekend.

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We made our way down to the river, stopping first for a second breakfast of break and eggs, and tea, then continuing to the Bulbul Academy of Fine Arts. I think the compound was once a colonial villa, but I am not sure how long it has been a school of fine arts. Nearby is the Ahsan Manzil Museum, a museum to Bangladesh history hosted by a renovated colonial government palace. Part of the history on display within the museum were before and after photographs of the palace. In some instances details and motifs were simplified, but given the extent to which the building was falling apart the restoration project was very impressive. After this stop we headed down to the river bank to grab a boat ride upstream. Many ferries lay dormant along the banks, as midday weekend traffic only required smaller boats.

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