Sonargaon Travel Guide: Visiting Museum and other attractions in the old capital

Photo, how to go, opening hours, off day, ticket price, contact no, and other details of Sonargaon Museum and other attractions in Sonargaon, the old capital of eastern Bengal.

Sonargaon is a popular tourist destination in Bangladesh. Located about 37 km from the capital city Dhaka, it is the first place people think about for a day tour from Dhaka. People from Dhaka and far away come to visit the Folk Art Museum, the abandoned city Panam Nagar, and the other interesting sights of Sonargaon every day. The month-long folk-art fair and the folk festival every year bring a lot of local tourists here too.

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 eastern Bengal governors. Different rulers from the 13th century used Sonargaon as their capital. At a 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 the medieval period. It was abandoned as the capital of Bengal in 1610 by the Mughal rulers when they shifted the capital of Bengal to Jahangirnagar, which was later named Dhaka. Nowadays, very few traces of the old capital is remaining in Sonargaon. No one can even imagine how glorious this place once was in its prime time seeing the quiet little village. In this article, you’ll get everything you need for visiting the attractions of Sonargaon.

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Newly renovated Boro Sardar Bari inside the Folk-arts and Crafts Foundation

Newly renovated Boro Sardar Bari inside the Folk-arts and Crafts Foundation. © Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

Sonargaon Museum

Month long Folk-arts Fair and Folklore Festival will be organized inside the Sonargaon Folk-Arts & Crafts Foundation premises this year on 1-30 March, 2021

Sonargaon Folk-Arts & Crafts Foundation, commonly known as Sonargaon Museum, is the main tourism center in Sonargaon. It is a huge place that contains Sonargaon Folk Art Museum, Boro Sardar Bari mansion, huge lakes, several picnic spots, a library, and a peacock-shaped stage for folk programs. Schools from all over the country bring their students here for study trips. It is also a popular picnic place among the locals because of the picnic spots which are possible to book for a whole day. Buses full of people from far away come here for a picnic every day.

Sonargaon Museum was established by the famous painter Joynul Abedin in 1975 on an old house called Bara Sardar Bari. Also, a new museum was established in a later period inside the premises, focusing mainly on the long heritage of textile in the Sonargaon area.

A month-long folk-arts fair and folklore festival is organized every year inside the foundation premises for a whole month. Temporary stalls are set up, and artisans from all over the country showcase their skills and products on these stalls during the festival. Folklore songs and dance are performed on the stage inside the foundation. This festival brings a lot of local tourists to visit the foundation.

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Newly renovated Boro Sardar Bari inside Sonargaon Folk-arts and Crafts Foundation

Newly renovated Boro Sardar Bari inside Sonargaon Folk-arts and Crafts Foundation. © Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

Boro Sardar Bari

Located inside the Folk Arts and Crafts Foundation, the Boro Sardar Bari is a big mansion of a wealthy Hindu merchant, which was built in 1901. Sonargaon Museum was originally established here by the famous painter Joynul Abedin in 1975 on this abandoned mansion property. It was established on this building after doing some simple renovation.

Artifacts related to the heritage of Bengal from the 17th century onward used to be displayed in this museum. Visitors could see here things people used to use in their everyday life which the city-based new generation is unaware of. Daily-life tools, ornaments, furniture, treasure box, arms, musical instruments, boats, decoration pieces, and many other things related to the heritage of Bengal were the main attraction of this museum.

In 2012, a Korean company took a renovation project to restore the building to its’ original state. The renovation work has been finally finished, and the museum opened for visitors again in 2020. They’ve done marvelous work to restore the building and its premises, including the pond in front of the building. A separate ticket is now required to visit this museum. Visitors are allowed to stay inside for a maximum of 30 minutes. However, the exhibits have not been returned to the museum after it reopened.

Interior of the newly renovated Boro Sardar Bari

Interior of the newly renovated Boro Sardar Bari. © Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

Boro Sardar Bari Opening Hours

Same as Sonargaon Museum (Folk Arts and Crafts Foundation).

Boro Sardar Bari Off Day

Same as Sonargaon Museum (Folk Arts and Crafts Foundation).

Boro Sardar Bari Ticket Price

  • Ticket price for the local visitors: 100 BDT
  • Ticket price for the foreign visitors: 200 BDT
  • Duration of visit: Maximum 30 mins

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Photo of the Sonargaon Folk Art Museum

Sonargaon Folk Art Museum. © Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

Sonargaon Folk Art Museum

A new museum has been built later inside the Folk Arts and Crafts Foundation, where mainly the rich culture of fabrics in Sonargaon is being displayed. The area was very famous for its production of the 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 matchbox, customers of which were mainly the royal families around the world. A sample of Moslin and other finest quality series, ornate Kanthas (Nokshi Kantha), a mattress made of fabrics and brass, and many other artifacts are being displayed in Sonargaon Folk Art Museum.

Other interesting artifacts being displayed in Sonargaon Folk Art Museum are a life-size ornate houseboat, an ornate wooden door that wealthy people in the villages used on their houses, an ornate wooden partition of a house, different wooden decoration pieces, and models of different types of boats which once were the main transportation in Bangladesh, as it is a country fully based on rivers, which sadly are lost nowadays.

Sonargaon Folk Art Museum Opening Hours

Same as Sonargaon Museum (Folk Arts and Crafts Foundation).

Sonargaon Folk Art Museum Ticket Price

No separate ticket is required to visit Sonargaon Folk Art Museum. It is included with the entrance ticket of the Foundation.

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Photo of the Sonargaon Museum entrance during the opening hours

The entrance of Sonargaon Museum during the opening hours. © Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

Sonargaon Museum Opening Hours

The opening hours of the Sonargaon Museum change twice every year in summer and winter. It opens and closes one hour early during winter. Sonargaon Museum off day, however, remains the same throughout the year.

Sonargaon Museum Opening Hours During Summer (April – September)

  • Friday – Wednesday: 10.00 AM – 06.00 PM

Sonargaon Museum Opening Hours During Winter (October – March)

  • Friday – Wednesday: 09.00 AM – 05.00 PM

Sonargaon Museum Off Day

  • Sonargaon Museum off day will be Thursdays throughout the year.

Sonargaon Museum Opening Hours During the Govt. Holidays

  • Unlike other tourist sites in Bangladesh, Sonargaon Museum remains open during the govt. holidays except for the holidays of Sob-e-Borat and Sob-e-Kadar.

Sonargaon Museum Opening Hours During Ramadan

  • Sonargaon Museum will be closed at 03.30 PM during the holy month of Ramadan.

Sonargaon Museum Opening Hours During Eid Holidays

  • Sonargaon Museum will remain open for visitors during the Eid day. It will be closed only on the previous day of the Eid day.

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Sonargaon Museum Ticket Price

  • Sonargaon Museum Ticket Price for Local Visitors: 50 BDT
  • Sonargaon Museum Ticket Price for Foreign Visitors: 100 BDT
  • Sonargaon Museum Ticket Price for Students on a Study Trip: 30 BDT

Sonargaon Museum Ticket Price for Car Parking

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 are as follows (no time limit):

  • Bicycle: 10 BDT
  • CNG / Motor Bike: 25 BDT
  • Cars, SUVs, Vans (NOAH/HIACE): 100 BDT
  • Coaster: 200 BDT
  • Bus: 300 BDT

Ticket Price for Boat Riding on the Lake

There is the arrangement of riding paddle-wheel boats on the lake inside the museum premises. The ticket price for boat riding is 20 BDT per person for 30 minutes.

Ticket Price for Fishing on the lake

You can go fishing by a hook on the lake. The price is 1,750 BDT for a whole day. You have to bring your own hook.

Picnic spot booking

Inside the foundation premises, there are several picnic spots which you can book for a picnic. Contact the museum directly for price details and booking.

Shooting of film

For shooting of films inside Sonargaon Museum premises, the charge is 3,450 BDT for a whole day.

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Sonargaon Museum Contact No

For any inquiry regarding Sonargaon Folk-Arts and Crafts Foundation, You can call their official IVR based help desk no 09604 000 777 or land-phone no 02-7656331.

How to go Sonargaon Museum

Go to the Gulistan bus stand at Dhaka, take a bus to Moghrapara. The 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.

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Abandoned city Panam Nagar at Sonargaon in Bangladesh, built in colonial period

Abandoned city Panam Nagar in Sonargaon. © Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

Panam Nagar

Panam Nagar is an 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 the early 19th century during British rule in the sub-continent as a trading center of cotton fabrics. Hindu merchants built their houses in this city – 52 houses on a single street. The European style influenced the building style of these houses with a mixture of traditional Bengal style.

When the British left the sub-continent dividing it based on religion, Sonargaon fell in the Muslim majority then Pakistan. 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 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.

A photo of the abandoned city Panam Nagar in Sonargaon

The abandoned city Panam Nagar in Sonargaon. © Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

Panam Nagar is the only abandoned city of its kind in the whole world. 52 Abandoned houses on the same street look like a ghost city. There were two types of buildings in Panam Nagar. One was for pure residence. The other was entertainment houses, which were used for pure entertainment where the 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 Dhaka’s outskirts.

For more details on Panam Nagar including the location, history, opening hours, off day, how to go, and many other details with lots of photos, check out: Panam Nagar: A fully abandoned city of the Hindu merchants in Bangladesh.

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Photo of Goaldi Mosque in Sonargaon

Goaldi Mosque in old capital Sonargaon. © Photo Credit: Raw Hasan

Goaldi Mosque

Goaldi Mosque is a beautiful medieval period mosque in Sonargaon, located just one km northwest 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 Alauddin Husain Shah’s reign at a village called Goaldi, this mosque was fully collapsed, including its single dome hidden behind the bushes. The archaeological department of Bangladesh later carefully restored the mosque. Goaldi Mosque is now standing as its own state again. This is a must visiting sight in Sonargaon.

For more details of Goaldi Mosque including the location, history, opening hours, off day, how to go, and many other details with lots of photos, check out: Goaldi Mosque: The little-known pre-Mughal mosque in Sonargaon.

FAQs on visiting old capital Sonargaon

What challenges independent foreign travelers can face traveling to the attractions of Sonargaon?

Being an underdeveloped country, Bangladesh has poor infrastructure. Unlike other countries in Asia, using public transports in Bangladesh is difficult. The attractions of Sonargaon will be difficult to access using public transport by independent foreign travelers. It would be convenient to use a rental car instead to visit the area with convenience.

Is it possible to buy entrance tickets of Sonargaon attractions online?

Currently there is no way to buy tickets online in advance and avoid the queue for the attractions in Sonargaon, except for the museum. You need to go to every site physically and purchase tickets from the counter.

How can Nijhoom Tours help foreign travelers to visit the attractions in Sonargaon?

Nijhoom Tours is a specialist local tour operator in Bangladesh organizing tours to Sonargaon for foreign travelers on a tiny group of 2-5 people only. We run day tours from Dhaka regularly to visit the the highlights of the old capital.

You can book a private Sonargaon & Panam City Tour with us or join with others to reduce cost, and visit the city. Pick-up and drop-off for the tour will be from your hotel conveniently. The full-day tour starts from $70 US per person including all the entrance tickets, lunch, an air-conditioned car, English-speaking guide, driver, a boat ride on river Meghna, and many more.

Have you ever visited Sonargaon? How fascinating have you found it? Have I missed something here? Please share your thoughts and experience with us in the comments.

Want to visit Panam Nagar, Folk-arts and Crafts Museum, Goaldi Mosque, a school for disadvantaged children, and a sandbank island of river Meghna on a day tour? Take a Sonargaon & Panam City Tour with us. The full-day tour starts from $70 US per person, including an air-conditioned car, English-speaking guide, all entrance tickets, a boat ride on the river Meghna, lunch on a local restaurant with authentic Bangladeshi food, and many more!

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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