Early 19th century Pink Palace, Old Dhaka


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Tomb of Sultan, early 15th century, Mograpara, Naryanganj


Navaratna Temple,Manikganj


Mahasthangar


15th century Kasumba mosque, near Rajshahi


‘Glass Mosque’, Saidpur


Soanargaon Museum,Narayongonj


Mahavihara, Pahapur, Noagaon


Early 20th century Curzon Hall, Dhaka University


Silk


Silk Road

Sample itineraries


1) Day out of Dhaka


Four millennia of tradition, in one day! From the 'Vanishing Wax' process of Brass casting, perfected in the Ganges basin over 4,000 years ago, at Damrai, to the remarkable National Monument at Savar, this is a day trip to savour.

The well informed young, English speaking guide will take in, also, the seventh century Buddhist site in Savar, and the splendid site of the early 19th century Teota Palace, where the waters of the Ganges, known in Bangladesh as Padma, and those of the holy Brahmaputra merge, beyond Manikganj. The early 20th century Navaratna Temple at Teota, where the great 19th century Bangladeshi Poet, Lalon Shah met, and married his wife, is visably influenced by the British design traditions of the time.
Time, too, perhaps, for the other early 19th century palaces at Damrai and Baliatti.

A day to sample great, and ancient traditions, together with the heritage of East India Company, and Raj, whilst experiencing memories of the country's war for Liberation from Pakistan in 1971.


2) Sultanate, Mughal and British magnificence


Four dramatic periods of Bangladeshi history over the last thousand years to explore, within an hour's drive. The fine, early 15th century Basalt tomb of the Sultan of Bengal, whose palatial residence has been richly descibed by the visiting Chines Admiral, Zheng He...the palace is now lost!..is a great starting point for a journey, covering little distance, but a thousand years of rich and visible history!

The early 20th century palace ruins at Mograpara, lead into a village community of both early Hindu, and Mulim heritage, with archetectural details lying around, a 12th century mosque, what may well be, originally, a Jain Temple, and the stone gateway that would, at some point, probably have pieced the usual, local, mud rampart.

Crossing the Chittagong Highway, towards Panam City, two mosques, one early 16th century, the other, early Mughal period, describe a developing culture; a fine example of a Mughal period bridge then welcomes you into Panam City itself. Sonargaon, described by visitors through the ages, from 14th century Moroccan, Ibn Battuta, through late 16th century English Merchant, Ralph Fitch, and where, in this centre of fine fabric production, the East India Company left a warehoues, and merchants, from the late 17th century onward have left their fine mansions, and religious monuments. Simply, one of the most accessible tours of the rich heritage of Bangladesh!


3) The ten day, 'Five Empires and a Corporation', experience

Day 1. Arrival.
Meet and greet at Dhaka International Airport, day or night, and transfer to your choice of hotel, recommended by our team, in Gulshan/Banani area of Dhaka, close to airport.

Relax, for escorted (if requested) wander around markets and parks, and visit to the tax free warehouse for supplies of beer spirits and wine, if required!

Day 2. City of Palaces. Dhaka, founded, on the banks of the Ganges, perhaps as much as fifteen hundred years ago, and possibly even earlier. It was, by the middle of the 17th century, when the Mughal Emperor Auranzeb made it the capital of the provinces of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, an immensely wealthy administrative and trading centre.

From here, the Viceroy, Shaista Khan, the Emperor's maternal uncle, brother of Mumtaz for whom the famous Taj Mahal was built, when returning to Delhi, took with him a fortune, collected from revenues, taxation and extortion, estimated at up to one trillion pounds Sterling in modern value!

He raised the wealth through taxing everything, from bamboo stakes, to cargoes of gunpowder, muslin and silk.

Today, the capital of Bangladesh, and the numerous palatial residences of rulers and merchants are slowly vanishing in the face of progress, but can still offer a positive feast of architecture, from the 16th to 21st century.

This was a centre of trade in such as saltpetre/gunpowder (perhaps the original attraction for European nations?), diamonds, silks, satins, muslin, fragrances and spices, the trade in the latter of which reaches back to the time of the Southern Silk Road, the earliest of these famous trade routes, dating, at least, from the middle of the last millennium BCE.

Ancient Hindu Temples, early Muslim mosques, Mughal palaces and forts...including the wonderful, Lalbagh Fort, with its own echoes of the Indian Taj Mahal ( built at around the same time): and the visible traces of East India Company and Raj. And, at the heart of it still, close to the Shadaghat launch terminal with its traces of ancient river transport, the magnificent, 19th century, Pink Palace, residence of the family who, in the early 19th century, bought the Zamindari of Dhaka. An unforgettable day's adventure!

Day 3. Towards North Bengal.
Travelling to Bogra, passing over the great bridge over the massive Jamuna River, most of the waters of which began life in the Himalayas, and reached Bangladesh as the Brahmaputra, a small collection of Mughal period, early 18th century temples, at Sirajganj make for a fascinating and instructive break.

On the northern outskirts of Bogra lies the site of the ancient walled city of Mahasthangarh, with origins in the Mauryan Empire, possibly even Maghada, 5th century BCE. Few sites in the Indian subcontinent can compare.

Day 4. Further north.

Taking in the mid 19th century city of Saidpur, the hub of railway development in the region, and the famous, mid 19th century, 'Glass Mosque', clad in ceramic pieces, pass on to Dinajpur, once a major centre of administration, from Gupta, through Pala and Sultanate rule, to Mughal , East India Company and Raj period rule. Just north of the city, the early 18th century Hindu masterpiece, Kanthaji Temple, with its terracotta friezes offering a commentary on rural life at the time, is amust visit, before heading on the the site of the largest walled city in northern Indian subcontinent, Bhitagarh, with its many walls, and fascinating moted defence system.

Colourful markets, and mudwalled, two story houses are, themselves, living history.

Day 5. The Pala Empire.

Rangpur, with its magnificent, early 20th century, Oriental Baroque zaminder Palace.It was built to replace the one brought down in the 1897 Great India Earthquake...which crushed the Zaminder, the local 'landholder', a Persian word; a role established under the Mughals, and developed by the East India Company and subsequent Raj, is agreat place to start a journey across the birhlands of the Pala Empire.

First, to Jahagadal Vihara(monastery/university), the site of one of the 'great five', such Buddhist. centres, quite probably with origins in the early centuries of Buddhism, but certainly enhanced in the 8th/12th century Pala period.

Then onward to Pahapur, Somapura Mahavihara, the UNESCO World Heritage site, the largest in the Indian subcontinent, with origins, certainly, in the period of the Mauryan Empire, and subsequently replicated in Cambodia and Java.

The journey passes many such sites, amongst the 400 identified in Bangladesh, but culminates in a visit to the early Mughal period Kasumba Mosque, clad, and fitted out, in a fine collection basalt architectural detail orginating in the Buddhist vihara of the area.


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Day 6 Mughal magnificence

An early start to travel to Chapai Nawabganj, on the fringes of an another ancient capital of Bengal, Murshidabad, that succeeded Dhaka as capital of the 'tristates', Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. The, 'Golden Mosque' is a small masterpiece of the late Sultanate period, so called because its sixteen domes were once guilded; it is partially clad in basalt, Buddhist architectural detail. The interior, 'Ladies gallery', comprises entirely of recycled Buddhist architectural work.

But the real gem of the area is the magnificent array of Guesthouse, Mosque and Mazar constructed by Shaha Suja, the favourite son of Emperor Shah Jahan and Mumtaz, for whom the Emperor constructed the famous Taj Mahal.

Nearby, there are the remains of a Mughal period Madrassa school, built with recycled Hindu and Buddhist material, upon the evident site of another Buddhist Vihara. At mango time, Chapai Nawabganj is also the centre of mango trading in Bangladesh; rich and tasty pickings to be found and enjoyed!

Return to Rajshahi to explore the ancient tradition, that certainly reaches back millennia, possibly even predating the Chinese, in the production, and weaving, of fine silk; once one of the most valuable trading cargoes. The mid 1st century BCE, 'Periplus of the Erythraean Sea', a guide to trade in the Arabian and Indian Oceans, describes the silk that can be traded through the Ganges delta.

Day 7 Mughal and Raj splendour.

En route to an overnight stay at the Jamuna Bridge Resort, a visit to Natore, with its fine Mughal period ruins of the palace of the famous Rani ( Queen) Babhani, and the magnificent late 19th century pavilions at Natore rajbari...Palace!
Then to the neo classical, conserved, Puthia Palace, with its fascinating array of Hindu temples, the earliest dating from the early 18th century.

Day 8 Rural crafts.

The return to Dhaka can take in, both, centres of traditional crafts, silversmithing, weaving, pottery, as well as agricultural skills, on the fringes of Tangail. It can also take in some of the best expressions of the 19th century skills in mosaic work on palaces.

Day 9 Two cities

An early start to head north from Dhaka to Wari Bateshwar, the villages within the site of what may well be the very early capital city of Gangaridai, the Kingdom of the delta, that deterred Alexander the Great from making progress, and finally turned his army around.

Archaeological evidence of silver, 'coins' dating from about 600/700 BCE, suggests this as a very early centre of trade, much written about by Greek and Roman writers. With evidence of Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age occupation, and remaining mud ramparts and wide moat, this is very significant site in the history of the sub continent.

From Wari Bateshwar, to the area of Sonargaon, traditionally regarded as the original capital of the Sultanate period, and with continuing evidence of great wealth generated, over millennia, from trade. Fine mansions and palaces, temples...Hindu, Jain and Buddhist, and Mughal mosques and bridge, the earliest dating from late 18th century

Day 10 Museum

The last day, a visit to the National Museum, to summarise all that has been explored. Followed by fully escorted shopping, and arrangements made for departure .

Extensions to this journey can readily be arranged, especially to the famous Tea gardens; the World's longest, natural, seabeach at Cox's Bazar; the famous Mangrove forest in Sundarban; or the 'Hill Tracts', in the east.

This fully escorted tour, with a minimum number of two visitors sharing: £ 675 per person(Mid season). It is a lengthy, and intense tour, but we have led on it such guests as the former Director of the British Council!