Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh, located on a channel of the Dhaleswari River. Though historical records of the time before the Mughal era are quite limited, some scholars argue that the city's origins date back as early as 100 BC when the Bikrampur area was the capital of King Bikramaditya. The city as it exists now was established during the Mughal conquest, and it rose to prominence during the reign of Emperor Jahangir after Islam Khan Chisti, the Mughal Subadar to Bengal, moved the capital there in 1608. During this period the city was known as Jahangir Nagar, and the Mughal governors built much of the city's most famous landmarks. To do so they brought many craftsmen to the city. Artisans tended to settle with others practicing the same crafts. The Mughals also brought numerous administrative officials and servants to settle in Dhaka.
European industrialists also set up factories there in the latter half of the 17th century, and by 1765 the territory was under English rule. At the end of British rule in 1947, the city became the capital of East Bengal and subsequently of East Pakistan. In the Spring of 1971, after many years of unrest, a war for the independence of Bangladesh began. By December the city became the capital of the newly established People's Republic of Bangladesh. It is now the commercial, industrial, and administrative center of Bangladesh, and has expanded considerably beyond the original nucleus now known as "Old Town." The newer part of the city center, Ramna, contains government and administrative structures, as well as parks and monuments. Residential and industrial areas have expanded to the north and west. A heavy concentration of textile, rope, string, baskets, and boat producers Dhaka and the port city of Narayanganj on the Shitalakshya River, 30 km to the south.
The Dhaka Metropolitan Area has expanded considerably beyond the less than 300 square kilometers of the city itself. As of 2014, the population of the 1,400 sq. km Metropolitan area was nearly 15 million. A study this area between 1975 and 2003 found that
substantial growth of built-up areas in Greater Dhaka over the study period resulted significant decrease in the area of water bodies, cultivated land, vegetation and wetlands. Urban land expansion has been largely driven by elevation, population growth and economic development. Rapid urban expansion through infilling of low-lying areas and clearing of vegetation resulted in a wide range of environmental impacts, including habitat quality.1
Notes: 1. Ashraf M. Dewan and Yasushi Yamaguchi, "Abstract of Land Use and Land Cover Change in Greater Dhaka, Bangladesh: Using Remote Sensing to Promote Sustainable Urbanization," Applied Geography 29, no. 3 (2009): 390-401. Accessed October 20, 2015. doi:10.1016/j.apgeog.2008.12.005.
Dani, Ahmad Hasan. Dhaka: A Record of Its Changing Fortunes. Edited by Ābadula Mamina. Caudhurī. Dhaka, Bangladesh: Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, 2009.
Dewan, Ashraf M., and Yasushi Yamaguchi. "Land Use and Land Cover Change in Greater Dhaka, Bangladesh: Using Remote Sensing to Promote Sustainable Urbanization." Applied Geography 29, no. 3 (2009): 390-401. Accessed October 20, 2015. doi:10.1016/j.apgeog.2008.12.005.
Shakur, Tasleem; Islam, Ishrat; and Masood, Javaria. "What Culture, Whose Space and Which Technology? The Contested Transformation and the Changing Historic Built Environments of South Asia," in ArchNet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, vol. 4, issue 1 (2010).
Based on two case studies in Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Lahore (Pakistan), this paper attempts to illustrate how the emerging cultures and spaces are continuously either negotiated or contested (Shakur, 2008). Historic Mughal city of Lahore (Pakistan), once the cultural capital of Asia, has expanded speedily over time. A prominent example of such a case would be Anarkali, a vibrant bazaar from the 17th century. Anarkali has adapted the modern living in a disorganised manner. Even today the inner you go to these galli mohalla, the richer the environ gets as a lot of old residents have still kept on with the indigenous aspects. A thousand miles away in the east but in a similar cultural setting of Lalabagh (in old Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh) is considered as one of the prime icon of Mughal architecture in Bangladesh. The magnificent fort, since 1678 experienced changes in socio-political and cultural contexts. The surrounding built environment has significant visual impacts on the inside space characteristics of the conserved fort. As a result, contradiction among the old and new, complexity between the space uses and the incongruity between architectural language raises question regarding appropriateness of this historic structure in its present milieu.