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The oldest section of the city runs along the north bank of the waterfront and was developed when Dhaka was a significant Moghul trading centre. A must-see in the Old City is the area between the two main water transport terminals, Sadarghat and Badam Tole where the panorama of river life on the Buriganga is particularly fascinating. This area is always crowded with people and watercraft of every type. Along the waterfront is the old baroque-style palace, Ahsan Manzil which has been painted bright pink.
Dhaka's premier attraction is Lalbagh Fort, an unfinished fort dating from 1678 located in the Old City. The area also contains a couple of attractive mosques, including Hussain Dalan. The National Museum is north of the Old City in the old European zone known as Modern City. It has fascinating displays of Bangladesh's Hindu, Buddhist and Moghul past and an extensive collection of fine folk art and handicrafts.
Most of the cheaper accommodation and restaurants are in the Modern City of Central Dhaka. This area also contains the Motijheel Commercial Area, the business district where most of the banks, travel agents and airline offices are located. Dhaka is the rickshaw capital of the world, with over 300,000 colourfully painted rickshaws in operation. Taking a ride in one is as essential as catching a red double-decker bus in London.
Flights between Dhaka and Chittagong leave three to four times a day, as do the trains, which can take up to seven hours to reach Chittagong. The Dhaka-Chittagong highway is one of the better roads in the country, and there are several bus lines that use it, but the trip can be hairy at times and takes almost as long as the train trip, which is more comfortable and less nerve wracking. Chittagong is 264km (164mi) southeast of Dhaka.
At the moment the road from Chittagong to Cox's Bazar is one of the worst in the country and still unfinished, but you can avoid it altogether by making your way from Dhaka to Chittagong, and then doing a short 20 minute flight from there. Alternatively buses go straight from Dhaka to Cox's Bazar, a distance of 370km (230mi).Mainimati Ruins
Famous as an important centre of Buddhist culture from the 7th to 12th centuries, the buildings excavated here were made wholly of baked bricks. There are more than 50 scattered Buddhist sites, but the three most important are Salban Vihara, Kotila Mura and Charpatra Mura. Salban Vihara was a well-planned, 170sq m (182sq ft) monastery facing a temple in the centre of the courtyard. Nearby is a museum housing the finds excavated here, which include terracotta plaques, bronze statues, a bronze casket, coins, jewellery and votive stupas embossed with Buddhist inscriptions. Kotila Mura comprises three large stupas representing Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, the 'Three Jewels of Buddhism'. The most important discovery at Charpatra Mura were the four royal copper-plate decrees, three belonging to Chandra rulers, the other to Sri Viradhara Deva, a later Hindu king. Note that some of the major ruins are within a military cantonment and cannot be visited without permission from military officers.
The ruins are about 70km (43mi) southeast of Dhaka.
To get to the archeological site from Dhaka, take a bus or train to Bogra, and another bus to Jaipurhat. From Jaipurhat there are two options: either take a rickshaw to the crossroads, and then a tempo to Paharpur village; or walk, or take a rickshaw, to Jaipurhat station, a train to Jamalpur, and then another rickshaw to Paharpur. It's also possible to reach Paharpur from Rajshahi, although more difficult than the Bogra-Paharpur trip, and involves an 8km (5mi) trek on the final leg. Paharapur is 260km (161mi) from Dhaka.
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