Crossing the Buriganga, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Crossing the Buriganga, Dhaka, Bangladesh
An amazing experience with the fearless boatmen of Buriganga
“Rush hour in the Bangladesh capital sees thousands of Dhaka’s commuters boarding small wooden boats to cross the waters of Buriganga River, one of the most dangerous waterways on earth, especially for the ferrymen.”
Frances Cronin, The Fearless Ferrymen of Dhaka’s Buriganga River, BBC News
It was a hectic day and our unofficial Wikipedia Photowalk of Dhaka has finally coming to a close. It was about was 10+ hours of photography experience covering the Dhaka University Complex and Old Dhaka.
It all started at 7 am from the YWCA Guest House in Azad Gate, with fellow Kolkata Wikipedian Biswarup da along with Bangladeshi Wikipedian Afifa and Ibrahim. We were soon joined by Pratay and Ranju da.
After lunch Pratay and Ranju da left and we were joined by Wikipedians Nahid and Tanweer, but Afifa and Ibrahim accompanied us for the entire day.
Final it was time to call it a day but the hectic part was far from over. We have to make our way from the Southern end of Dhaka to the YWCA Guest House in Azad Gate, located on the Northern end of the city, through the notoriously chaotic traffic of Dhaka.
We decided to avoid the cycle rickshaw infested roads of Dhaka and take the river instead.
The Buriganga river today flows through the south – west end of the city was once the main life line of the city.
In the distant past the main course of Padma was through the Dhaleshwari River but with the passage of time the course of the Padma shifted and Dhaleshwari River lost its significance and was renamed Buriganga.
Even today the heavily polluted Buriganga River plays an important role in the social and economic life of not only the citizens of Dhaka, but of the whole of Bangladesh.
It serves as a important water way link connecting Dhaka with large areas in southern Bangladesh. Also local use the river to avoid the perennially congested roads of Dhaka.
About 25,000 commuters who come to work in Dhaka from the other bank of the river.
These men cross the river every day on small wooden boats powered and steered by a single oarsman with a single oar.
Although there are a couple of bridges across the Buriganga the daily commuters prefer the water way to avoid the notorious traffic jams of Dhaka.
But the Buriganga River is no less crowded and apart from the innumerable country boats the river transport also consists of huge gravel barges, cargo and passenger ships.
The Sadarghat River Terminal is often considered as the largest river port in the world and the most dynamic place in the whole of Dhaka.
The Sadarghat Ferry Terminal is a important water way link connecting Dhaka with the rest of Bangladesh.
The presence of the fast moving huge ships makes life extremely dangerous for the boatman and his passengers.
The ferrymen with their single ore exhibits extraordinary skills to negotiate past the huge fast moving ships on the Buriganga River.
But accidents are not very uncommon and ships do collide with small wooden country boats, throwing the passengers into the highly polluted and swift flowing waters of Buriganga.
Other boatmen risk their lives to save the lives of their colleges and the other boat passengers.
Finally we made our way to the Sadarghat Ferry Terminal and after a short bargaining session the prices were settled for a couple of takas for each passenger.
We soon hit the water, which was heavily polluted and zed black in colour.
The river is not very wide and water is fast flowing and huge ships passed inches away from our boat.
It was definitely a frightening experience and for a non – swimmer like me it was like a heart in mouth experience.
The dangerous journey across the swift flowing polluted Buriganga was rightly compensated with a spectacular sunset.
As we were crossing the Buriganga we witnessed the grand spectacle of the sun setting beyond the bridge across the river.
The adventure journey was soon over and we are all happy to set our foot back to the firm ground.
Crossing the Buriganga made our journey easier but it was far from over because we still had a long distance to cover, which was finally covered in a combination of CNG auto and cycle rickshaw ride through the ever crowded roads of Dhaka.
- I visited Dhaka on a invitation of Wikimedia Bangladesh on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary Celebration of Bengali Wikipedia. So a very special thanks to Wikimedia Bangladesh.
- A special thanks to fellow wikipedians Afifa and Ibrahim for guding us through the streets of Dhaka for the entire day. Also thanks to Tanweer, Nahid, Pratyya and Rnju da who also joined us during the exploration of Dhaka. Biswarup da, a fellow wikipedian from India deserves someting more than thanks.