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Architecture of Bangladesh

Bangladeshi Architecture - Houses
Houses

Having been occupied by people for thousands of years, Bangladesh has a large number of architectural monuments, despite its small size. Since the 100s BC the country has been building lasting monuments, with many of these early structures being dedicated to Buddhism.

Of the oldest ruins in the country, the city of Mahastangarh (100s BC) is among the most accessible, although little remains outside of brick foundations. After this city there are no real remains until the 700s with the building of monasteries and Buddhist temples, although a few Hindu temples also survive from this time. The Monastery of Sompur Vihara in Paharpur is among the most impressive of the Buddhist ruins and is massive in size.

In the 1200s Islam arrived to the region and mosques began to be built. Despite this seemingly huge influence with the introduction of Islam, few huge architectural changes took place. The greatest changes came in the structures being built as opposed to their style. What is important to note though is that the people didn't all convert to Islam so over the centuries, mosques and temples were both built in unison.

Among the greater Hindu temples are the Kodla Math near Bagerhat, the Kantaji Mandir in Dinajpur (1700s), and the more local Dhakeswari Temple in Dhaka (1600s). Among the great early mosques were the Sura Mosque (1493) in Dinajpur and the Bagha Mosque (1523) in Rajshahi.

The Muslim influence grew stronger in the late 1500s with the Mughal takeover. The people converted to Islam in greater numbers and mosque construction continued as the Mughals are considered master architects and builders (they built the Taj Mahal in Agra, India). Despite these great builders, most mosques in Bangladesh remained simple; this includes the Atiya Mosque (1609) in Tangail, the Jami Mosque (1700s) in Rajmahal, and numerous others, most of which can be found in the capital of Dhaka.

The next great architectural influence arrived with the British in the mid-1700s. The British brought in European styles, including the Neo-Classical style, which reached its peak in the 1800s. The Dhaka Old State Bank is in the style as is the Nawab of Murshidabad Palace (1820s), although both are heavily Bengali influenced as well. During much of British rule Dhaka grew in some ways, but the rest of the country seemed to slowly sink as much of the region's power and money was shifted to nearby Calcutta, India, the British capital during their rule. This led to a substantial decrease in the amount of architecture being built in Bangladesh.

After gaining independence from Britain and joining Pakistan in 1947 the region began to try to modernize. This involved adding new building techniques and materials, but they progress was slow as the new capital shifted to modern day Pakistan as Bangladesh became a forgotten region in their own country. Despite this, major improvements were made and structures were built, although few are of particular interest; most of the buildings constructed at this time were solely functional such as schools, factories, office buildings, etc. Despite most buildings being only functional, some gained great acceptance in the architectural world, most notably the Dhaka University Library and the College of Arts and Crafts, both built by Muzharul Islam.

Through the 1960s and to the present the country has slowly found its own style as it broke free from Pakistan and is investing in growth, which has been in the form of construction on many occasions. This has led to a number of high rise apartments in the capital as well as numerous skyscrapers in Dhaka as well.

This page was last updated: March, 2013