Dhakeshwari Temple: The center of Hindu religion in Old Dhaka

Dhakeshwari Temple is Dhaka city’s main Hindu temple and the national temple of Bangladesh. It is located in Old Dhaka, about 1 km north of Lalbagh Fort, up to a short alley off Dhakeshwari road. This temple is significant to the Hindu religion. It is a part of the famous Shakti Peethas in the Indian Subcontinent, where the gem of the goddess Sati’s crown is believed to have fallen.

Dhakeshwari Temple is the largest Hindu temple in Bangladesh. The word ‘Dhakeshwari’ means the goddess of Dhaka. It is a hub of socio-cultural as well as religious activity of the Hindu community of Dhaka. All the Hindu festivals in Dhaka begin here. You’ll always find devotees coming here in colorful dresses in a festive mood. Dhakeshwari Temple is a must visiting attraction for anyone visiting Bangladesh.

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Photo of the four Shiva temples inside Dhakeshwari Temple

The four Shiva temples inside Dhakeshwari Temple. ©Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

Construction of Dhakeshwari Temple

Popular legend connects the name of one king, Ballalsena, as its builder, but it is not certain that he is identical with the 12th century Sena king of that name. The style of architecture of the temple cannot be assigned to that period. Furthermore, sand and lime, the mortar used in the building, came to be used in Bengal after the Mughal conquest.

On the other hand, the temple’s architectural and structural features indicate its builder to be someone who had very little influence on the culture of Bengal. Many of the features suggest a similarity to Arakanese religion and religious practices. The existence of twin deities suggests the affinity with the Tantric Buddhism of the Maghs.

It is assumed that the deity belonged to the Maghs and the architectural features indicate its affinity to Arakanese structures. From all these, it has been suggested that the builder of this temple was one Mangat Ray, who was also known as Ballalasena, younger brother of Arakanese king Shri Sudharma, son of famous Arakanese king Raja Malhana alias Husen Shah.

Photo of the memorial of the late caretakers of Dhakeshwari Temple

Memorial of the late caretakers of Dhakeshwari Temple. ©Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

Mangat Ray, who was the governor of Chittagong when it was a part of the Arakan kingdom, rebelled against the king of Arakan in 1638. After an unsuccessful attempt to raid Arakan he fled to Bengal for safety along with his family and supporters with 14 elephants and nearly 9000 men. He was welcomed and provided for by the Mughal Subahdar (governor) of Dacca (Dhaka). Thus it can be assumed that Mangat Ray built Dhakeshwari Temple around that period.

For ages, the temple has been held in great importance. The original statue was destroyed during the 1971 War of Independence by the invading Pakistani army. The temple complex has undergone repairs, renovation, and rebuilding in its long years of existence, and its present condition does not clearly show any of its original architectural characteristics.

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Photo of the inner court of Dhakeshwari Temple

The inner court of Dhakeshwari Temple. ©Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

Secions of Dhakeshwari Temple

Dhakeshwari Temple is a complex of different temples and other supporting buildings. It has an inner court on the east and an outer court on the west. There is a large water tank on the western side with a walking-path all around, which always remains closed.

The Four Shiva Temples

There are four small temples of the same size and shape on the tank’s northeastern corner, which stand one after another from east to west. Each of them is built on a high plinth and approached by a flight of steps, and has a Shiva linga inside. This is the most photographed part of the temple.

Photo of the four Shiva Temples inside Dhakeshwari Temple

The four Shiva temples inside Dhakeshwari Temple. ©Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

The Main Temple

To the north-eastern side of the inner court stands the main temple facing south. It is a three-roomed structure with a veranda in front of having beautiful wooden doors with the curving of different motifs, both sculptural and floral. The main temple’s three rooms are crowned with a domical-sikhara roof; the sikhara over the central room is much higher and bigger than the flanking ones.

In front of it is the Nat Mondir (temple), an open space where different religious rituals are organized, and visitors sit. The temple is open every day, and people from all religions can enter inside.

Photo of the main temple inside Dhakeshwari Temple

The main temple inside Dhakeshwari Temple. ©Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

The Durga Temple

On the east side of the outer court located the newly built Durga Temple, which is an open stage on which are kept the Durga and other deities. This temple is for the Durga Puja, which is the largest Hindu festival.

Photo of the deities at the Durga Temple inside Dhakeshwari Temple

Deities at the Durga Temple inside Dhakeshwari Temple. ©Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

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Photo of the entrance of the Dhakeshwari Temple in Old Dhaka

The entrance of Dhakeshwari Temple. ©Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

Visiting hours of Dhakeshwari Temple

  • Every Day: 07.00 AM – 02.00 PM & 04.00 PM – 09.00 PM

Entree Fees of Dhakeshwari Temple

There are no entry fees for anyone to enter any parts of Dhakeshwari Temple.

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Photo of the devoties entering the main temple of Dhakeshwari Temple

Devoties entering the main temple of Dhakeshwari Temple. ©Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

Tips for visiting Dhakeshwari Temple

  • Dhakeshwari Temple remains closed in the afternoon from 02.00 pm to 04.00 pm. Do not go to visit the temple at that time.
  • Leave your shoes in the shoe storage room before entering the main part of the temple. They expect small tips for keeping the shoes safe, which is usually 10 BDT.
  • Do not touch any worshiper or any of their belongings, especially food. They consider everything wasted when someone from different religion touches anything of them, especially any offerings.

Reference

Have you ever visited Dhakeshwari Temple? How beautiful have you found it? Please share your experience with us in the comments.

You might also be interested in reading 13 Best places to visit in Bangladesh you can’t miss and 101 Things to know about traveling Bangladesh.

Check out our Old Dhaka Tour to visit the key attractions of New and Old Dhaka, including Dhakeshwari Temple. The full-day tour starts from $70* US with an air-conditioned car, English-speaking guide, all entrance tickets, lunch at a local restaurant with authentic Bangladeshi food, a rickshaw, and a boat ride.

Check out our 1-7 days tour and excursion packages in Bangladesh and 8-28 days holiday packages in Bangladesh to travel Bangladesh with comfort.

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