Sonargaon is a town in the Dhaka Division. It has survived through many historical periods under the rule of various sultanates and empires, and was one of the original capitals of the Bengal region.
Sonargaon is one of the oldest capitals of Bengal. It became the seat of the Hindu Deva Dynasty in the mid-13th century. But this was short-lived, as Hindu rule ended in the early 14th century. Sonargaon was under independent rule for some years, before becoming a subsidiary capital of the Sultanate of Bengal, then the Sultanate of Delhi. The city ended up in the hands of the Mughal Empire after their rise to power across the Subcontinent.
The British eventually took control of the region, and although it lost much of its significance, the city was further developed with a new neighbourhood called Panam City, which was settled by wealthy Hindu merchants.
Much of the old Hindu and Mughal buildings are gone or ruined, but some have survived. Many of the British-era structures are still present today.
Frequent bus services to Sonargaon operate from Gulistan, Saidabad and other bus stands in Dhaka. Tickets may be bought on roadside counters. The price of the ticket from Gulistan bus stand is Tk 43, and the ride should take about 40 minutes, depending on the unpredictable traffic. Mention your destination as Mograpara, or else you might end up at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka, rather than the town in the countryside.
Sonargaon is the combination of many villages and towns. These are all located in close proximity to each other. The easiest, and most enjoyable way to get around is simply by rickshaw. Many rickshaw drivers can be hired for the day for about Tk 200-250. This will save the hassle of having to wave one down and negotiate fares each time.
- 1 Sadarbari (Folk-Art and Crafts Museum). 9am-5pm, Fr-We. An old mansion built in 1901 to house a Hindu Zamindar. A mix of Indian, European and Mughal architecture. One entrance has steps leading down to the tranquil lake, while the other is embellished with a beautiful mosaic of blue and white tiles. There is an exhibition inside, with numerous displays concerning the area. There is also a gift shop. Tk 100.
- 2 Panam City (Painam Nagar). First settled by wealthy Hindu merchants in the late 19th century, they fled to India during the Partition of India when Bengal became a Muslim region. The area was largely abandoned, leaving it today as a crumbling neighbourhood of huge mansions slowly being reclaimed by nature. The narrow street of mixed architecture has a lot of charm, being a mystical town from centuries past. TK 100.
- 3 Goaldi Mosque. A small mosque built by Mullah Hisabar Akbar in 1519 CE. It has been fairly well-maintained by the Government, and tourists are welcome to visit in a respectful manner. There is another mosque about 50 metres away, built during the Mughal era.
- Mosque and Tomb of Pir Mohammad Yusuf. An old mosque built to honour a Sufi saint, along with his tomb. Built 1700 CE.
- Tomb of Sultan Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah. The oldest surviving Muslim monument in the country, it is the resting place of the independent Sultan. Although the site carries a lot of history, it doesn't carry any real historical architecture and is quite unimpressive.
- Panch Pir Dargah, Sachilpur. Tombs of Sufi saints (Pirs) from the 17th century. A historical mosque is also on site.
- Shiva Shrine. Just north of Panam City there is a tall Hindu Shiva Shrine.
- Folk-Art and Crafts Museum Gift Shop. 9am-5pm, Fr-We. Located inside the Sadarbari museum, this store sells a variety of handicrafts, including vases, jewellery, saris and dolls.
There are a number of shops located near the bus stand, on the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway.
- Sonargaon Royal Resort