Travel

Bustling Bangladesh: Find Dhaka’s Best-Kept Food Secrets, Local Festivals & More

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Tasnim HasanTravel,,,,,,,,,,,,,

This land is known for the threatening extinction of the Sunderbans and for erosion of the longest shoreline (Cox’s Bazaar) and political instability; but looking past that, Bangladesh is a treasure trove of culture, food and adventure. The heart warming, hospitable people, bustling and vibrant roads, street-shopping deals and delicious food await you.

If you’re visiting Dhaka in Bangladesh, you should know it is a very crowded capital [it is one of the densest cities in the world]. Rickshaws are the most convenient mode of transport since they can navigate through thin lanes. The climate in Bangladesh is hot from March to June; cool & rainy  from June to October; and winter cold from October to March. Best time to travel: April [it’s only starting to rain typically]

Although it is slightly risky to travel alone at night, the city is quite safe if you’re moving in groups. It is advised to travel in a car if you’re visiting  landmarks late at night.

This travel piece brings you the bright, colourful snippets from a country of intense diversity:

The Festivals

Be it Eid, Durga Pooja, Christmas or New Year’s Eve, buildings are always adorned in twinkling, festive on every street corner. I encountered the festive night life in Dhaka and it far surpassed my expectations. Foot tapping music, a woody Christmas ambiance, the scent of cinnamon in the air – it will undoubtedly pull you into cheery spirits.

Pohela Boishakh (Bengali New Year) on 14th April:

Image Source: calltohumanity.files.wordpress.com
Image Source: calltohumanity.files.wordpress.com

This is the celebration where you get to see true colors of our culture and heritage. First, participate in the early morning parade where celebrators walk from one spot to another, all dressed up in red and white.

Second, savour a traditional breakfast called, “Panta Bhaath and Ilish Maach” ([his is a traditional food where the cooked rice is soaked in water for the night and you are later served the rice with a crunchy/ crispy Hilsha Fish fry on the side along with chillis and onions] and finally, attend cultural concerts and plays conducted at the Dhaka University Campus.

Pohela Falgun [Welcoming Spring] on 13th February:

This is a treat for the eyes – Citizens dress up in the blossoming colors of yellow, orange and green in order to welcome the season of spring. It’s like a painted landscape.

Make sure you don’t miss out on the Durga Puja celebrations taking place around the city and traditional book fairs, SME fairs being organized throughout the year – these are events where you can mingle with the locals and really get to know the ins and outs.

The Notable Tourist Spots:

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This list features famous spots that are customary to any visit to Dhaka:

Hatirjheel Bridge point: Great for if you’re looking for a good vantage point to take this city in or for a photo-op place.

Old Dhaka (Puraan Dhaka)

Puthia Palace: Surrounded by ditches, this palace is a must-visit for designers and architects, showcasing Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture.

Dhanmondi Lake: One of the relatively quieter spots in Dhaka, if you’re looking to go boating with friends and want to have a picnic in the greens, pay this place a visit.

Bongobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s House: This is a great historic site to give you a glimpse into the life of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Nationalist leader in Bangladesh.

Local Restaurants

From steaks to sandwiches, biryani to sushi, everything is available at ease! Dhaka has turned into a food paradise over the last few years with the restaurateur business seeing a big boom. Here are the culinary must-haves of Dhaka:

Source: flickr.com
Source: flickr.com

Fuchka and Chotpoti from the street carts:

Fuchka is a Bengali speciality – a version of the spicy Indian pani puri. It is known as the heaven of food in disguise!
Price: 50-100 Taka (Fuchka + Chotpoti)

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Shawarma House:

Chicken/Beef Shawarma and Lemon Mint juice

Yes I agree that their shawarmas will not be anywhere near to the ones we eat in Dubai! But it is surely delicious. When eating the shawarma, make sure you do add in the Chili paste that they serve you at the tables. Without it, the shawarma will be nothing!

Image: http://www.jhalmoori.com/
Image: http://www.jhalmoori.com/

Hakasa (Thai and Chinese):

Pepper Lime Squid – This tangy and slightly spicy dish will have you begging for more – if you’re a fan of Chinese cuisine and squid, you’ll love this one.

Price: 220 Taka (Good for 2 people or more)

Image Sore: tripadvisor.com
Image Sore: tripadvisor.com

Timeout:

Beef/Chicken Steak- Served with sides of mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables, the trio is the best known in town till date [slurp, slurp]!

Price: 585++ Taka (1 Person)

Yellow Submarine Cafe Waffles

Yellow Submarine Café:

Waffle Fans, this café serves the most scrumptious waffles in town. Most preferred waffle? GO BANANAS!

Price: 300 Taka and Above (1 per person)

Image Source: tripadvisor.com
Image Source: tripadvisor.com

Star Restaurant:

Star restaurant is well known for its traditional kababs and kachchi biryani. The Kachchi biryani is a famous Bengali delicacy cooked very differently from Indian or Pakistani biryani. So if you are a die-hard grill food lover, or a biryani fanatic, this is the place to eat at!

Price: 400 Taka and above (1 Biryani enough for 2 people)

Image Source: foodnetwork.ca
Image Source: foodnetwork.ca

Madchef:

Madchef is a cart station where you get the yummiest of sandwiches and burgers at a very reasonable price. Look out for Cheezus, the Chicken and herb sandwich.

Price: 410 Taka (Price varies according to the types) (1 sandwich/burger per person)

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On a closing note, it really is true what they say  there: “Life gives you endless opportunities to explore, because in Bangladesh, there is more.”