Home > Bangladesh, Dhaka, General > Crossing the Buriganga, Dhaka, Bangladesh

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

Panoramic view of Buriganga River from the bridge, Old Dhaka, Bangladesh

Panoramic view of Buriganga River from the bridge, Old Dhaka, Bangladesh

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.

Crossing the Buriganga, Ibrahim, Afifa and Tanweer

Crossing the Buriganga, Ibrahim, Afifa and Tanweer

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.

A country boat with ships in background, Buriganga, Dhaka

A country boat with ships in background, Buriganga, 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.

Scattered country boat crossing the Buriganga, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Scattered country boat crossing the Buriganga, Dhaka, 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.

Sadarghat Ferryghat, Buriganga River, Dhaka

Sadarghat Ferryghat, Buriganga River, 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.

Country Boat, Buriganga, Dhaka

Country Boat, Buriganga, Dhaka

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.

Smaller boats make way for larger boats, Buriganga, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Smaller boats make way for larger boats, Buriganga, Dhaka, Bangladesh

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.

Wooden Boats, Buriganga, Dhaka

Wooden Boats, Buriganga, Dhaka

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.

Ship and small boat, coexisting in Buriganga

Ship and small boat, coexisting in Buriganga

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.

Sunset, Buriganga River, Sadarghat, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Sunset, Buriganga River, Sadarghat, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Special Thanks:

  • 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.

  1. September 25, 2015 at 1:05 AM

    Hi,
    Loved this post.

    I have a query. If someone is not lucky as you, to be invited, what are the factors s/he should keep in mind to travel there?
    And how many days are the best according to you?

    • September 26, 2015 at 11:18 PM

      Thanks Nisha for the comment, in spite of the recent political disturbances, I found Bangladesh to be very safe country to travel. People are extremely friendly and since I was a Bengali language was not a problem.

      Regarding Don’ts I would suggest you to avoid speaking about political matters.

      Although a small country Bangladesh has lot to offer and it is difficult to cover the entire country in a single trip. If you love nature the Chittagong are is most beautiful, the Sunderban are is also worth visiting. Sadly my visit was only restricted to the capital Dhaka.

      Please do visit Bangladesh, its an amazing country.

  2. September 25, 2015 at 9:52 AM

    Lovely account of Bangladesh. Seems like quite an adventure along the river. Would have loved to do that. Thanks for sharing.

    • September 26, 2015 at 10:51 PM

      Thanks for the comment, Bangladesh is a land of rivers and crossing them is an amazing experience.

      I will come up with another river crossing post of the mighty Padma.

  3. debram
    September 25, 2015 at 11:05 AM

    Wow!!! Thanks for letting us travel down the Buriganga river through your blog………..

    Natureram

    • September 26, 2015 at 10:46 PM

      Thanks for the comment, it was really an amazing and dangerous experience !!!!

  4. 2travellingsisters
    September 25, 2015 at 9:29 PM

    It must be quite an adventure travelling on these boats! Beautiful pictures and its very rare that we come across articles on Bangladesh, good read! Thanks for sharing🙂

    • September 26, 2015 at 10:44 PM

      Dear 2 Travelling Sisters, there are very nice travel blogs on Bangladesh, most of them are written by Bangladeshis and are in Bangla. Since Bangla is my mother tongue I really enjoy reading them,

      Thanks for the words of appreciation and do keep traveling and blogging

  5. October 23, 2015 at 2:17 PM

    I had heard a lot about this popular place. Thanks a lot for sharing this post. By reading it, I visualized travelling through this river with my friends. Now I wish to go on this adventure trip and experience the thrill of travelling by the boats.

    • October 23, 2015 at 6:18 PM

      Thanks Vanaski, comments from fellow bloggers are a huge source of inspiration. Keep travelling and blogging…..

  6. November 25, 2015 at 12:14 AM

    Wow. This is my favourite among all your posts. I so wish to visit Bangladesh and your posts make me wanderlust more.

    • May 8, 2016 at 8:03 PM

      Thanks Maverick Bird (Swetlana), Bangladesh is an amazing country, plz do visit it.

      • May 8, 2016 at 9:29 PM

        I hope so in the future.

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