Take a Walk Along Dhaka’s Bailey Road

With a population topping twelve million, and a population density of 43,797 people per square kilometer, the city of Dhaka, along with its metropolitan area, is considered by statisticians to be a “megacity”. While it’s true that life in the capital city of Bangladesh appears to move at a frantic pace, there are many places in this vibrant city where citizens, and visitors, can take time out to relax and escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life – even if only for a short period of time. Bailey Road, or Natok Saroni as it has been officially renamed, is one of these special places, and visitors to Dhaka may want to take some time out to enjoy all that this cultural oasis has to offer.

Bailey Road runs through the suburb of Shantinagar, connecting Siddheshwari junction with the Kakrail-Ramna Road, and is the heart of Dhaka’s theater community. The road had originally been named in honor of Sir Steuart Colvin Bayley who was the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal from 1879 through to 1882. However, in recognition of Bailey Road’s importance to the theater community of Dhaka, on 26 August 2005 the Mayor of Dhaka, Sadek Hossain Khoka, announced that the name of the road would change to Natok Soroni, meaning “Theater Road”. Well respected theater personalities were present at the name change announcement, including Sayed Ahmed, Liakat Ali Lucky, Ramendu Majumdar and Mamunur Rashid.

The two major theaters on Bailey Road are the Guide House Auditorium and Mahila Samiti Auditorium. As the name may suggest, the Guide House Auditorium was initially established as a base for the Bangladesh Girl Guide Association. The auditorium was built in 1982 and underwent extensive renovations in 2003 and 2004 with the objective of using it for theater productions. Both of these theaters regularly host local and international theater performances.

A number of good quality stores, restaurants and fast food outlets add to the appeal of Bailey Road, while the clothing boutiques offer an array of beautiful garments, including Jamdani saris, where the delicate silk fabric has been made on a handloom. Attesting to its cultural worth, Bailey Road has even been featured in a song by the lead singer of Bangladeshi pop-rock band LRB (Love Runs Blind), Ayub Bachchu. So if you are visiting the Bangladeshi city of Dhaka, be sure to take a walk along fascinating Bailey Road/Natok Saroni, maybe taking time out to enjoy a performance at one of the theaters.