[WATCH] History of Dhaka’s origin | The Daily Star
12:40 PM, January 28, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:51 AM, September 02, 2017

[WATCH] History of Dhaka’s origin

Dhaka, one of the oldest metropolises in this part of the subcontinent, has crossed the enviable milestone of 400 years. The city, founded by the Mughals in the 17th century, was the economic capital of the Mughal Empire, and later saw rapid growth in urbanization during the British colonization in the late 19th and early 20th century.

However, the settlement in Dhaka dates back to more than a thousand years according to many historians. Dhaka and its adjoining areas were then identified as ‘Bengalla’.

In history, it is often believed that Raja Ballal Sen of the Sen Dynasty of Bengal founded the Dhakeshwari Temple in the 12th century to mark the place of his birth and to pay tribute to the patron goddess of this region.

The name Dhaka is believed to have originated from Dhakeshwari in the same way as Athens got its name from Athena, the patron goddess of the Greek city.

The ancient temple was ruined in the course of time until a Hindu agent of British East India Company reconstructed it around 200 years back. The temple was further damaged by the Pakistan forces during the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh and was later renovated and declared as the national temple of the country.

After the Sen Dynasty came to an end with Ballal Sen’s son Laxman Sen being defeated by Ikhtiar Uddin Mohammed bin Bakhtiar Khilzi, Dhaka was successively ruled by the Turkish and Afghan rulers under the Delhi Sultanate before the Mughals arrived in 1608.

Dhaka came into prominence during the Mughal period when it held the position of the provincial capital of Bengal, and was destined to expand.

The city came to be known as "Jahangir Nagar" (City of Jahangir) in honour of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir, son of Akbar the Great, and father of Shajahan, the founder of Taj Mahal.

A significant growth in population and trade came following the development of townships, public works as the city was proclaimed the capital of Bengal under Mughal rule in 1608. Mughal Subahdar Islam Khan Chisti was the first administrator of the city.

The Buriganga and her mother river Dhaleswari connected Dhaka to the great rivers and through them with almost all districts of Bengal, which played an important role in the development of communication across the region, giving rise to trade and commerce. Dhaka became the economic hub of the Mughal Empire, with half of its whole GDP from Bengal hailing from the city alone.

The landmarks such us the Lalbagh Fort, Ahsan Manjil, Boro Katra, Choto Katra, and many others were built during this time and represent the Mughal architecture. 

Later, the emerging city fell into the hands of the British East India Company in 1765 following the Battle of Plassey. The city's population shrank dramatically within a short time after the war. Although it remained an important city in the Bengal province, Dhaka became smaller than Kolkata, which served as the capital of British India for a long time.

Under the British rule, the city later saw many modern educational institutions, public works and townships being developed, giving rise to urban growth and a rise in population in the late 19th and early 20th century, paving its path to emerge as the metropolis that it has become today. 

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