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  • Writer's pictureAbhishek Deb

Best Places for Street Photography in Dhaka-Bangladesh

Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan
Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan

“Travel brings power and love back into your life” – Rumi

“I have to visit my dream destination before I die” – How often have we heard this from people? Two months prior to his death, my father took a trip to Dhaka and other parts of Bangladesh. What was he looking for? Well, I never got the opportunity to finish that conversation with him though. I had been going through the photographs he had managed to take through his trip. But no, this feature is not about his photographs taken in Dhaka; this is about Dhaka. A dream travel destination for many street photographers across the world. The capital city of Bangladesh, is a vibrant and bustling metropolis that offers a plethora of opportunities for street photographers. With its rich cultural heritage, diverse population, and chaotic yet captivating streets, Dhaka is a treasure trove for capturing unique and compelling images. In this editorial, I will help you explore some of the best places in Dhaka recommended for street photography, through images, testimonials and a never dying passion of exploring people and places.

OK, so one of the most searched queries by visitors to Dhaka reads like this: What are the best places to do street photography in the city of Dhaka? And then I found some more:-


People on the streets of Dhaka, Street life in Dhaka, Dhaka street photography, Everyday scenes in Dhaka, Candid photography in Dhaka, Dhaka street portraits, Dhaka street markets, Dhaka street food, Dhaka street fashion, Dhaka street festivals, Dhaka street art, Dhaka street culture, Dhaka street photography tips.

Kawran Bazar – The largest wholesale market in Dhaka city. It is full of activities and a gem for photographers. Trading starts here at midnight and ends around 8.30 in the morning.


Bangladeshi Street Photographer Mustafa Habib Chowdhury explains Kawran Bazar as, “The centre of wholesale fresh fruit and vegetable imports into Dhaka from all parts of the country. It can sometimes be dirty and dingy especially during the hot and humid summer months, but it is also the lifeline of food for the common man of Dhaka. Look out for the street-side drug dealers on your way in and out of there.”


I also had to hear about it from Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan. He went on to state: “Kawran Bazar is one of the biggest commodity marketplaces in Dhaka city, the capital of Bangladesh, and also a good place for street photography in the morning hour up to 10 am. The wholesale fruit and vegetable sections are some of the most chaotic and interesting. It’s messy, busy, and crowded with activity packing the streets, but it’s what makes Dhaka a special place. Nearby, you’ll also find the train tracks which are lined with life, including more street sellers. Walking the tracks here makes for an interesting and unique atmosphere too.”


Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury Kawran Bazar
Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury

Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury Kawran Bazar
Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury

Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury Kawran Bazar
Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury

Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan Kawran Bazar
Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan

Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan Kawran Bazar
Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan

Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan Kawran Bazar
Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan

Old Dhaka – The old part of the city is full of narrow streets, old buildings, and people going about their daily lives.


Bangladeshi Street Photographer Mustafa Habib Chowdhury, when asked about Old Dhaka, states: “Old Dhaka is still the soul of this city! Historic, soulful, highly congested and very photogenic. There is a feeling of timelessness here. People here seem to belong to an older understanding of time. The pace is slower, the people know each other in a neighbourhood with some families living there continuously for generations, and a dogged determination to continue living in their ancestral homes despite the attraction of modern apartments in the newer parts of the city. Lots of undiscovered internal by-lanes and roads which can bring a street photographer immense joy.”


“Old Dhaka is the heart of the city’s chaos and character. It doesn’t feel like too much has changed over the centuries here, with an atmosphere of crumbling homes, historic winding lanes, and endless crowds of people. Old Dhaka is the most photogenic and photographic place for street photography. People are very friendly to the camera and you will get frequent activity changes within short walking distance.” – says Dr. Md Imam Hasan.


Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury Old Dhaka
Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury

Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury Old Dhaka
Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury

Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury Old Dhaka
Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury

Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury Old Dhaka
Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury

Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury Old Dhaka
Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury

Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan Old Dhaka
Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan

Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan Old Dhaka
Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan

Sadarghat River Port


Mustafa had been very specific, helping me visualise street photography around Sadarghat: “The Sadarghat River port, is one of the most chaotic and lively places in Dhaka City. This area is filled with passengers of launches(read river-ferries) to travel mainly to parts of southern Bangladesh, port workers, street hawkers, street-side food vendors, wholesale fruit and vegetable markets, wandering vagabonds and other interesting characters. If you are a 35 mm or 24 mm lens street photographer where you need to approach your subjects up close and are not bothered by noise, this is the place for you as you are never far away from people.”

Dr. Imam made it informative while talking about this place: “The busiest, and most interesting area is by the Sadarghat. The Burgiganga River here at the Port of Dhaka is a sight to see, filled with a variety of boats, from small wooden rowboats to giant ferries. On the banks, the streets are even more crowded with porters unpacking produce and markets selling them. And just across the River Buriganga, you’ll find the Keraniganj Shipyard which is definitely one of the favorite spots in Dhaka for photography.”


Photo: Goutam Maiti Sadarghat
Photo: Goutam Maiti

Photo: Goutam Maiti Sadarghat River Port
Photo: Goutam Maiti

Photo: Goutam Maiti Sadarghat River Port
Photo: Goutam Maiti

Photo: Goutam Maiti Sadarghat River Port
Photo: Goutam Maiti

Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan Sadarghat
Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan

Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan
Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan

Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan
Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan

Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury
Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury

Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury
Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury

Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury Bangladesh
Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury

New Market – A popular shopping destination in Dhaka city. It is full of interesting shops and people. But that is what Google search will also say right? I had to know it from a local perspective.


“New Market is a place synonymous with shopping and eating tasty foods from our childhoods when there were no modern malls in Dhaka. It is still a go-to place for many things even today, such as books. Reading is a dying practice in modern day Dhaka City where the youth are mainly fascinated by their mobile phones and tablets. Hence booksellers are going out of business in many parts of Dhaka City, except here, with New Market still being one of the main sellers of both academic textbooks and non-academic books. It is still a haven for middle income people in the city to afford small luxuries such as nice clothing, electronics, makeup, jewelry, etc. Always busy and buzzing, especially where it connects with Chandni Chowk, which houses 100s of historical retail sari stores in the city. The patient ones will be rewarded with great visual stories here.” expresses local street photographer Mustafa Habib Chowdhury.


Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan New Market
Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan

Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury New Market
Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury

Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury New Market
Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury

Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury New Market
Photo: Mustafa Habib Chowdhury

Dhaka University and Dhaka Railway Station

Dr Imam Hasan points out about the University of Dhaka: “It is the central place for Education, Culture, and Politics. A popular area for locals to hang out is around the University of Dhaka. The younger crowd loves to meet up here, but you’ll find all ages along the surroundings. Along the main streets, pathways and open spaces, you can find busy local activity. As the day starts to cool off, it can get even busier. It’s a good central spot to come for guaranteed activity and a younger, vibrant vibe.”


Photo: Goutam Maiti
Photo: Goutam Maiti

Photo: Goutam Maiti
Photo: Goutam Maiti

Image: Goutam Maiti

Photo: Goutam Maiti
Photo: Goutam Maiti

Image: Goutam Maiti

Photo: Goutam Maiti
Photo: Goutam Maiti

Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan
Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan

Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan
Photo: Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan

Dhaka, can be stated as a city of contrasts, it is a treasure trove for street photographers. From the bustling markets of Old Dhaka to the trendy neighbourhoods of Dhaka University, there is no shortage of interesting and captivating moments to capture.


To get the most out of your street photography experience in Dhaka, remember to be respectful and discreet, and if the moment comes, ask permission before photographing people. With a little patience and creativity, you are sure to capture stunning images of the vibrant and unique street life of this fascinating city.


Author – Abhishek Deb

Special Credits – Dr. Muhammad Imam Hasan, Goutam Maiti, Mustafa Habib Chowdhury and all the colleagues and photographer friends who made this feature possible.

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5 Comments


Guest
Feb 25

Shireen This looks mad and busy like many Indian cities. Thank you for sharing this. The street photos are remarkable and I loved all of them. 

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Guest
Feb 25

Roma A


The write up gives an insight into why Dhaka is on the must-visit list for street photographers. The choice of images with the article is fabulous!

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Guest
Feb 25

Ahmed Saber Mahmud

Moments come, and moments pass. The art of photography is to capture the fleeting nature of it for eternity. Not all moments are equal. Street photography aims to capture the everyday moments that we typically ignore. I am so glad to see our Bangladeshi photographers capturing the charm of these day-to-day trivialities for us and the future generation. Being a big fan of the old Dhaka culture and cuisine, I was delighted to get back to my days in Dhaka.


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Guest
Feb 25

Mustafa Habib Chowdhury 

Many thanks to Street Photography Gallery (WORLD) and Abhishek Deb to allow me to contribute to this wonderful article on street photography in Dhaka, a bustling crowded metropolis and one of the largest megacities in the world. This is an important and interesting location for street photographers due to the millions of interesting characters working and living in town and the strong day-to-day interactions that can be captured at close range through a photographer’s lens. The locations chosen in this article accurately display and chaos and beauty of life in Dhaka City. I wish SPG will continue to work with Bangladeshi photographers in highlighting this “street photography heaven” for the global audience and thereby inspire foreign photographers…

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Prasiddhi .R
Prasiddhi .R
Feb 25

The clicks are simply fabulous! The write up that goes with them is enticing. Thank you SPG and the contributors.

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