The Buriganga, or “Old Gangies” is the main river flowing through Dhaka city. In the distant past a course of the Gangies used to reach the Bay of Bengal through the Dhaleshwari river, but over time this gradually shifted, ultimately losing its link with the main chanel of the Gangies, until eventually it was renamed the Buriganga. Busy Sadarhad Port is economically very important to Dhaka, where launches and larger boats convey both passenegers and trade, connecting the capital city to other parts of Bangaldesh.
The Buriganga is threatend by pollution, and due to siltation large steamers can no longer gain passage through the river chanel in the dry season. Water flow in the river is low, except during the monsoon season. Then it is ‘flushed’ of most of its pollution, and at this time, when not at its worse, river dolphins can still occasionally been seen.
We hired one of the ‘Dingi Nouka’ simply meaning ’small boat’, that ferry passenegers to and from the larger vessles up and down the river. Navigated by one long paddle, the boatman skillfully and safely negotiated our way through a jumble of bobbing, vying little vessels, until we rounded the final ferry, out into the deeper water of the Buriganga itself. Now the oar could really came into its own, amazingly not only powered by both of the boatman’s arms, but with the addition of one fairly dexterous foot and leg as well.
I don’t think it usual for a European to travel this way, as so many small boats came over to check out the strange cargo. Most were openly amused and very friendly, smiling, calling over and waving at us. It was a great opportunity to view Dhaka from a different perspective, and I came away with the impression that the Buriganga river is only marginally less crowded and hectic than the busy city streets themselves!