After a brief trip to Old Dhaka, we now go to the hub of culture in Dhaka - Ramna Park. This park has a historical past - it starts about 1610 AD during Mughal rule, when the city of Dhaka was founded by Subehdar Islam Khan under Emperor Jahangir. At that time two beautiful residential areas were developed in the northern suburb of Dhaka city. New residential houses, gardens, mosques, tombs and temples were built in this area during that period. After the fall of the Mughal rule, Ramna gradually lost much of its glory. Ramna was then a barren area with bushes, abandoned or dilapidated buildings, tombs and old temples.
Ramna area began to regain its glory since 1825, when Mr. Dowes, a British collector of Dhaka initiated a series of steps for development of the city. Engaging convicts, he cleared up the bushes and demolished most tombs and monuments except the Ramna Kali Mandir. The old mosque and tomb that now stand by the western side of old High Court building were spared. The renovated area was given the name of Ramna Green and was fenced by a boundary for using it as a race course. In 1908 he began the work of a garden that took 20 years to take a shape.
The Nawabs of Dhaka developed the racecourse area as a beautiful garden and named a part of it as Shahbagh, the royal garden. The Nawabs also set up a zoo at Ramna. In 1851, the European civil servants established the Dhaka Club on the northern corner of the racecourse and after the Partition a good number of beautiful residential houses were built at Minto road area for the High Court judges and top bureaucrats.
Ramna Park was officially inaugurated in 1949 with an area of 88.50 acres of land with 71 species of plants. The large open spaces on the southwest facing the lake were used for holding National Fairs and Exhibitions. In 1960, Queen Elizabeth II was accorded a rousing civic reception at the Ramna park with display of local fireworks. A raised concrete platform was built for the Queen, the remnants of which can still be seen in the park close to the lake. [source: wikipedia]
Nowadays, the park and a famed tree is the home to many festivals. One of them is the Poush Mela. Poush, the first of the two months in the Bengali calendar spanning winter, brings in festivity in the life of people living in rural Bengal. The people make traditional delicacies called pithas, made of new harvest of rice and date juice. There are traditional Baul music, songs, dances, recitation from puthis or folk literature, and plenty of traditional foods. There are stalls for henna (mehndi) painting and other foods like honey and dates for sale. All in all, the festival is reminescent of a Bohemian lifestyle, where everybody hangs out, chills out and basically has an all around good time.