Dhaka / Influence of Old Dhaka city to Modern Dhaka

The old Dhaka city now remains as the historic core and commercial nerve of Dhaka. Due to the urbanization of Dhaka transforming into a megacity, population density pressurized urban planning and urban sprawl increased. It had gradually become congested because of unplanned growth. Since 1947, most parts of the area have been losing residential quality and transforming rapidly into wholesale and retail areas.

The palaces and elegant houses along the Buriganga river have been reduced to invaluable land filled with slums.  New settlements within Old Dhaka are growing rapidly without little consideration of the heritage which is deteriorating. Heritage sites and historical monuments were destructed during the Pakistan and military rule. Growth in the old Dhaka city then resorted to encroachment and building slums on heritage sites. Several historic buildings have been subdivided for multiple uses and encroached as residential units.

Old Dhaka area

Despite city expansion towards the North, and CBDs sprouting at Northern parts of Dhaka, the retail core has remains around the old Dhaka area.1 The Buriganga river plays an important role where the commercial area is located near to the river for the convenience in communication. Furthermore, traces of the webbed road network developed during the Mughal period still exists as a feature of the city. The irregular urban fabric subsequently impacted city planning of the consequent periods where planning was rather compact. Hence, the density has caused difficultly to reform areas properly.

Therefore, urban growth in Dhaka has been determined by the natural determinants since the Mughal period, and the city expansion during the Mughal period has also influenced the urban fabric of modern Dhaka. Mughals faced the problem of low land and climate hence developed along the Buriganga, whereas the natural determinants nowadays have shifted to the problem of flooding and changes in its physical landform. The increase in flooding is a reaction to the unplanned and spontaneous development due to rapid urbanization. Improper planning and urbanization are immediate issues that Dhaka has to solve.

Image of Old Dhaka area

1 Hossain ,N. (2014) History of Commercial Development in Dhaka and the Spatial Significance of Spontaneous Retail Growth. IOSR Journal Of Humanities And Social Science. Volume 19, Issue 11.