Meet Rajshahi, the Venice Beach of Bangladesh
Go with the flow
Upon arrival we immediately felt Rajshahi was a different kind of town: it was much more at ease. We could stroll through the streets without hearing the constant honking of cars, students were biking around and everybody was just giving us a friendly “Hello!” instead of rambling through a list of questions. A peaceful abode after the hustle and bustle of the capital.
Our first stop: the Varendra Research museum which was in an incredible good state: I can even say it’s the prettiest (and most interesting) museum we visited so far. It was great to see so much history and culture of ancient and medieval Bangal together. The museum houses an impressive collection of stone carvings from bygone temples, displayed against whitewashed walls. Every room has large boards explaining what is depicted.
From the museum we walked through the university grounds (filled with students playing cricket) to the river where we were surprised to find a boardwalk (no kidding) and places to sit down and enjoy the sunset on the Padma river. I bought myself an ice cream and it felt like summer like we know it for the first time. No I’m not being nostalgic, just painting a picture here 😉
Walking down the boardwalk I immediately thought of Venice Beach (avant la lettre): little food stalls, people selling cotton candy, couples (yes!) romantically staring at the water and trash cans shaped like monkeys and elephants (love!).
If you walk further through town you will see bits and pieces of Rajshahi’s past popping up: between the new concrete houses you can still find some great older architecture.
We spent more time than needed in Rajshahi (it is after all a small town) but it felt nice to have a place to relax and just be. The town is also an excellent hub to explore neighboring Puthia and Natore (two MUST sees as well).
• Stay: Way Home hotel on Station Road: 600 taka for a double room (no Western toilet but the rooms are clean and pleasant plus there’s a Dutch-Bangla ATM (the only bank that worked for us) around the corner)
• Food: There’s a good restaurant across the hotel, if you’re willing to walk a bit further Warsila (formerly known as Aristocrat) is a good pick as well for Chinese inspired food.
• Things to see: The Varendra Museum, the boardwalk, the university
• Daytrip: Puthia & Natore
• Getting there: An approx. 5 hour train ride from Dhaka (see the schedule)