VOL. VIII, Issue 1, October 2009

Chawk Bazar, the heart of the old city

Chowk Bazar, one of the oldest areas of the Dhaka city, was founded by the Mughals in 1602. Chowkbazar, or the square was situated near the command centre of Mughal general. 

In 1702 the market was named as "Badshahi Bazar". In the early part of 1700s  the market was extended. In the early days, the market was patronised by royalty as well as ordinary citizens.

People also used to call the place "Chowk Bandar" as the market had roads on all its four sides, which is still noticeable. The market was frequented by traders of many nationalities. It is where the historical Muslin, preferred by the royalty of home and abroad, used to be sold.

It is said that when the royalty used to come for shopping, the Chokdars would announce their arrival and ordinary people had to leave. For over 400 years Chowk Bazar continued to be an important trading place. Almost every item, local or foreign, is available here.

Another important historic relic of the area is Chowk Bazar Shahi Masjid. Over the main doorway of the mosque proper, there is an inscription in Persian which records the construction of the mosque by Subedar Shaista Khan in 1676 AD.

It is probably the earliest dated mosque in Bengal, built on a high vaulted foundation. However, today the original building design-- roof with three-domed-- has been lost through multiple renovations and extensions.

Mughals were great connoisseurs of food. As in those days, Chowk Bazar was the most  preferred spot for food lovers. The mention of Haluikar's 'Halua' and 'Suti Kabab' of the area can be found in the works of historians. Just beside the mosque is the

popular shop selling Nurani Lassi. The tea of Amania Hotel and New Amania Hotel are the favourite of tea drinkers, while Ananda Bakery, Bombay Sweets, Alauddin Sweetmeats, Banaful, Madhuban, Decent and Royal maintain the tradition.

People of the area, the bearers of the great Mughal traditions, are very hospitable. It is fascinating to sit with the elderly people of the area and listen to their reminiscences telling us of the British days and also about stories of the Mughal times that they had heard from their forefathers.

Now a days Chowk  Bazar get special attention during the Holy Month of Ramadan. It is during this month one can taste food which no where else can be found.Lately "Baro Baper Polay Khae" has caught the attention of people, but items like Bakharkhani, Murli,