Sonargaon was the old capital of Bengal in the medieval period. It was an important administrative and commercial center of Bengal, and a rich maritime center. Sonargaon was the seat of the medieval Muslim rulers and governors of eastern Bengal. Different rulers from 13th century used Sonargaon as their capital. In different time, Sonargaon was the place to become the stair to the throne of Bengal for many different rulers.
Sonargaon was used as a mint capital beside Gauda in medieval period. It was abandoned as capital of Bengal in 1610 by the Mughal rulers when they shifted the capital of Bengal to Jahangirnagar, which was later named Dhaka. Now a days, very few trace of the old capital is remaining in Sonargaon. Seeing the quiet little village, no one can even imagine how glorious this place once was on it’s prime time.
© Photo: CDS Soho
Sonargaon Folk-Arts & Crafts Museum
Sonargaon Folk-Arts and Crafts Museum is the most popular tourist spot in Sonargaon. It is the most popular tourist spot for the locals near Dhaka. There are two museums inside the premises of Sonargaon Folk-Arts and Crafts Museum. The original museum was established by famous painter Joynul Abedin in 1975 on an old house called Bara Sardar Bari built in 1901.
Artifacts related to the heritage of Bengal from 17th century onward is being displayed on this museum. You can see here things people used to use on their everyday life which the city based new generation are unaware of. Daily-life tools, ornaments, furniture, treasure box, arms, musical instruments, boats, decoration peaces, and many other things related to the heritage of Bengal are the main attraction of this museum. This building is now being beautifully renovated to its original state, and closed for display. It will open as soon as the renovation work is finished.
© Photo: Tim Willems
A new museum has been built later on the same premises, where mainly the rich culture of fabrics in Sonargaon are being displayed. TSonargaon was very famous for it’s production of finest quality hand-made saries among which Moslin was the most famous. This sari was so thin, a whole sari could be folded on a match box, customers of which was mainly the royal families around the world. A sample of Moslin and other finest quality saries, ornamented Kanthas (Nokshi Kantha), matress made of fabrics and brass, and many other artifacts are being on display in the new museum.
Other interesting artifacts being displayed on the new museum are a life side ornamented house boat, ornamented wooden door which rich people used on their house, ornamented wooden partition of a house, different wooden decoration piece, and models of different types of boats which once were the medium of main transportation in Bangladesh, it being a country fully based of rivers, which sadly are lost now a days.
Ticket Price of Sonargaon Folk-Arts and Crafts Museum
Ticket price for entering the foundation premises is 20 tk. for locals and 100 tk. for the foreigners. You do not need any separate ticket to enter the museum.
Car parking charges
Adjacent to the museum is the newly renovated car parking area. The area is big enough to park lots of cars and buses. The charges for parking is as follows (no time limit):
- Cars, SUVs, Vans (NOAH/HIACE): 50 tk.
- Coaster: 75 tk.
- Bus: 120 tk.
- Baby Taxi: 20 tk.
- Motor Byke: 15 tk.
- Bicycle: 5 tk.
Boat Riding on the Lake
There is arrangement of riding paddle-wheel boats on the lake inside the museum premises. Ticket price for boat riding is 20 tk. per person for 30 minutes.
Fishing on the lake
You can do fishing by hook on the lake. Price is 1,500 tk. for a whole day. You have to bring your own hook.
Picnic spot hiring
Inside the museum premises, there are several picnic spots which you can hire for picnic. Contact the museum directly for price details and booking.
Shooting of film
For shooting of film inside the museum premises, the charge is 5,000 tk. for a whole day.
Visiting Hours of Sonargaon Museum
- Friday – Tuesday: Foundation premises is open from 9.00 am – 5.00 pm, and the museum is open from 9.30 am – 4.30 pm. Museum galleries are closed at 12.30 pm – 2.30 pm at Friday only for the Jum’a prayer.
- Wednesday & Thursday: Closed.
- Government holidays: Closed.
Contact no of Sonargaon Museum
For any inquiry regarding Sonargaon Folk-Arts and Crafts Museum, You can contact Mr. Zaman from admin: 01722-387042.
How to go Sonargaon
Go to Gulistan bus stand at Dhaka, take a bus to Moghrapara. Bus service called ‘Meghla’ goes to Mograpara. From Mograpara, take a Rickshaw to Sonargaon Museum. Bus service to Sonargaon also available from Chasara at Narayanganj.
© Photo: Md. Abdullah Mahmud
Panam Nagar is a abandoned city of the Hindu merchants, just within 10 minutes walking distance from Sonargaon Folk-Arts and Crafts Museum. It is the most attractive tourist spot in Sonargaon. Panam Nagar was founded at Sonargaon in early 19th century during British rule in the sub-continent, as a trading center of cotton fabrics. Hindu merchants built their houses on this city – 52 houses on a single street. Building style of these houses was influenced by European style with the mixture of traditional Bengal style.
When British left the sub-incontinent dividing it based on religion, Sonargaon fell in the Muslim majority then Pakistan part. During that time there were several religious riots in this area, when these merchants fled to India with their family, leaving their houses to the caretakers with an intention to come back which never happened because of circumstances. Thus this wealthy city was fully abandoned. These caretakers later claimed these houses as their own with forged papers, from whom Bangladesh govt. later acquired the whole city. Panam Nagar is now protected under the archaeological department of Bangladesh.
Panam Nagar is the only abandoned city of it’s kind in the whole world. 52 Abandoned houses on the same street looks like a ghost city. There was two types of buildings in Panam Nagar. One was for purely residence. The other was entertainment houses, which was used for purely entertainment where party used to took place every night with unlimited drinks, dance and singing by Baijis. These houses had a gallery in the middle. The house owner and his friends used to watch the performance of the Baijis from the gallery. Panam Nagar is a great place to spend a whole afternoon with the family in the outskirt of Dhaka.
Ticket price of Panam Nagar
Panam Nagar was always open without any boundary and no ticket was previously required. However, the archeological department has recently taken initiative to make boundary wall surrounding the city to better protect it, and ticket is now required to enter Panam Nagar. Ticket price for locals are 15 TK and foreigners 200 TK.
Visiting hours of Panam Nagar
- Tuesday – Saturday: Open from 9.00 am – 5.00 pm.
- Sunday: Closed.
- Monday: Opens after 02.00 pm.
- Government holidays: Closed.
How to go Panam Nagar
Walk for 10 minutes or take a rickshaw from the gate of Sonargaon Museum to reach Panam Nagar.
© Photo: John Mawer
Goaldi Mosque is a beautiful medieval period mosque in Sonargaon, located just 01 km north-west of Panam Nagar. This is the only structure remaining in Sonargaon from the medieval period when it was the prime time of Sonargaon. Built in 1519 by Mulla Hizabar Akbar Khan during the reign of Alauddin Husain Shah at a village called Goaldi, this mosque was fully collapsed including it’s single dome hidden behind the bushes. The archaeological department of Bangladesh later carefully restored the mosque. Goaldi Mosque is now standing as it’s own state again. This is a must visiting sight in Sonargaon.
Ticket price of Goaldi Mosque
No ticket is required to visit Goaldi Mosque.
Visiting hours of Goali Mosque
Goaldi Mosque is always open for the visitors. If you find the gate locked, you’ll find the caretaker nearby to open it for you.
How to go Goaldi Mosque
Take a rickshaw or auto-rickshaw from the Museum or Panam Nagar to reach Sonargaon, and return on the same transport.
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Ever visited Sonargaon? Which sites in Sonargaon have you liked most? Do you have any tips on visiting Sonargaon? Share with us in comments. You may also be interested in reading 13 Best places to visit in Bangladesh you can’t miss.
Want to visit Sonargaon Museum, Panam Nagar, Goaldi Mosque, and some more on a day tour? Take our Old Capital Tour. Full day tour starts from $52 per person including air-conditioned car, English speaking guide, all site entrance tickets, and lunch on a local restaurant with authentic local food.
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