Bangabazar a popular market for selling of economy garments at Fulbaria in Dhaka. People from all over the country as well as foreigners flock here to buy garments for personal use and gifts. Many retail traders also come here to make wholesale purchases. Bangabazar, however, did not begin as a garments market. It started in 1965 as a trading spot where vendors and hawkers brought headload of goods everyday. The location was close to the main railway station of the time and was an ideal place for sale of snacks, drinks, items of day-to-day use, and souvenirs. Even after the shifting of the railway station to Kamlapur the hawkers continued to transact their business at the place as it formed a junction of several busy roads. They had illegally constructed temporary tin sheds with an intention to permanently occupy the place. In 1975, the Dhaka municipal administration decided to construct a market building in the area and demolished the tin sheds. But the land belonged to the railway authorities, which refused to transfer its ownership. The shop owners then took pieces of land from the railway department under agreements of yearly lease and started running businesses on a legal footing. In 1985, the area was formally transferred to the City Corporation, which finally constructed a planned shopping centre in 1989. The total land area of the market is 21,250 sq ft. It was developed as a garments market between 1985 and 1990. In fact, the market incorporated four shopping centres viz. Bangabazar, Gulistan, Mahanagari and Adarsha Hawkers Market, into one and has become popularly known as the Bangabazar. Indeed, it is now difficult to distinguish the borders of the other three markets.
The market is renowned for sale of footwear, readymade garments (shirts, trousers, shorts, jackets, hosiery, sweater etc) and saris at cheap prices in both wholesale and retail trade. The products can be sold cheap because the raw materials used are surplus fabrics and accessories of manufacturers, who import them for the merchandise of supplies by foreign buyers or their local agents. The shops in the market are also sort of show rooms as well as sales counters for indigenous manufacturers of surrounding places like Siddiquebazar, Tantibazar, Banglabazar and Bangshal. Consisting of approximately 2,200 shops in a congested place, the centre is the largest shopping mall for local consumers and traders as well as for buyers from India, Nepal, Bhutan, Russia, and Iran. Expatriates, including tourists and those who work in embassies or multinational companies, visit the market so frequently that it is increasingly attracting international attention. The transaction with foreigners is carried out through some local inexpert bilinguists, who have developed skill in interpreting the bargaining between the buyers and sellers.
A devastating fire glutted the market in 1995 and reports on the losses and the market itself brought it to worldwide limelight. The Dhaka City Corporation has taken the initiative to reconstruct the market in a place adjacent to Nagarbhavan (the City Corporation Building) in Fulbaria. Two 10-storied buildings named the Bangabazar complex and the Sundarban complexes are now under construction to accommodate Bangabazar and Gulistan hawkers markets in the first complex and the Mahanagari and Adarsha hawkers markets in the second one. [S M Mahfuzur Rahman]