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Sonargaon – the Old Capital of Bengal

Sonargaon  originally Svarnagrama or Suvarnagrama, denotes an ancient janapada (territory) of Vanga stretched on both banks of the Brahmaputra, which is said to have originally been inhabited by a race called Svarna-bhushita, literally meaning ‘dressed up with gold’ and signifying a people traditionally adorned with gold-wear. The antiquity of this region may be traced back to the period of Kuru-Pandava war described in the Mahabharata, and even earlier.  Its importance in ancient time is borne by the traditional holy bathing places of Langalband and Panchamighat on the west bank of the Old Brahmaputra. The ancient territory of Suvarnagrama was originally bounded on the east by the Meghna, south and west by the Dhaleswari and Sitalakshya respectively, and north by the Brahmaputra forming northern extremity of the modern greater Dhaka district. To demarcate the site of the territory in modern geographical context it may roughly correspond to the tract of land between the Sitalakshya and the Meghna now constituting the district of Narsingdi and the major part of Narayanganj district.

The most glorious period of Sonargaon began in 1338 AD when it emerged to have been the capital of the earliest independent sultanat of Bengal founded by Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah. Sonargaon continued to maintain this status till the fall of the house of Fakhruddin in the hands of Shamsuddin iliyas shah in 1352 AD. From that time onward down to the coming of the Mughals, Sonargaon had been a provincial metropolis except for a period of its rise to the seat of the independent rule under Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah, and capital of the Kingdom of Bhati under the house of Isa Khan Masnad-i-Ala.

After the fall of Musa Khan (1611) in the hands of the Mughals, Sonargaon lost its political pre-eminence, and survived as the headquarters of one of the sarkars of Bengal subah. With the establishment of Mughal capital at Dhaka, the city of Sonargaon must have fallen fast into decay.

The capital city of Sonargaon, obviously of Hindu origin, was situated on the northern bank of the Dhaleswari, close to the confluence of the Dhaleswari and the Sitalakshya, and also close to that of Old Brahmaputra and the Meghna. The site of the city is lying about 27 kilometers almost southeast of Dhaka city. The area now known as Panam in Sonargaon, about 2.5 kilometers to the north of the Dhaka-Chittagong highway at Mograpara point, is said to have been the site of the capital city during the Hindu rule. Mograpara on the bank of the Menikhali is presumed to have been the main site of the Muslim capital city. From the extant archaeological remains it is evident that an extensive Muslim settlement had grown over the entire Mograpara and Goaldi region, and perhaps the Muslim capital city developed in and around Mograpara on the northern bank of the Menikhali extending towards Goaldi and Baidyer Bazar. The Hindu capital city, presumably comprising the area between Panam and Khasnagar, was not altogether abandoned during Muslim rule, and perhaps constituted the place of residence of the early Muslim governors.

Bangladesh Folk-Art Museum is situated at Sonargaon. It is open for the tourists from Friday to Wednesday from Morning 10-00 am to afternoon 5-00 pm.  Courtesy: (

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