Dhaka, founded by the Mughals in the 17th century, has crossed the enviable milestone of 400 years. The city being the capital of Bangladesh, is also one of the oldest metropolis in this part of the subcontinent. It was the economic capital under the rule of the Mughals, and later during the late 19th and early 20th century, the city saw rapid growth in urbanization during the British colonial period.
I was working on a story about Dhaka’s 400 years of history a couple of weeks back when I came across a Facebook group ‘DHAKA - 400 years History in Photographs’, where I found many startling photographs of the city and its people from the pages of history. The group has a lucrative collection of photos from the past reflecting the history of the city, its peoples, monuments, and a keen idea about how the society was like back in those days.
The group is like an open archive where anyone can post photos of Dhaka’s past days from their personal possession to be shared to over 21,000 members in the group. The albums include many photos that portray how the city looked like earlier, telling the stories of its transformation over the decades-- how many roads and streets looked like back in those days, how the fairs and festivals were held back then, the various buildings and monuments which are now either ruined, or lost, or are still there as the witnesses of history in silence.
The group also suggests references and books on the history of Dhaka which interested readers can go through to know about their beloved capital. I, and many others alike, have not seen a lot of what this metropolis was once upon a time, and this group can be a great resource to witness the history of those lost times in photographs which are there with stories to be told, songs to be sung, and poetries to be recited, describing Dhaka and its glorious past.
By the grace of social media, the group is beyond doubt a valuable archive with vast treasures waiting to be unfolded by anyone enthusiastic to know about our beloved capital.