Dhakeshwari National Temple (Bengali: ঢাকেশ্বরী জাতীয় মন্দির Ðhakeshshori Jatio Mondir) is a famous Hindu temple in Dhaka, Bangladesh and is state-owned, giving it the distinction of Bangladesh’s “National Temple”. The name “Dhakeshwari” (ঢাকেশ্বরী Ðhakeshshori) means “Goddess of Dhaka”. The temple is located southwest of the Salimullah Hall of Dhaka University. Since the destruction of Ramna Kali Mandir in 1971 by the Pakistan Army during the Bangladesh Liberation War, the Dhakeshwari Temple has assumed status as the most important Hindu place of worship in Bangladesh.
The Dhakeshwari temple was built in the 12th century by Ballal Sen, a king of the Sena dynasty, and many say the name of the city was coined after this temple. The current style of architecture of the temple cannot be dated to that period because of numerous repairs, renovations and rebuilding in its long years of existence and its present condition does not clearly show any of its original architectural characteristics. It is considered an essential part of Dhaka’s cultural heritage. Many researchers say that the temple is also one of the Shakti Peethas, where the jewel from the crown of the Goddess had fallen. Although there is not enough historical context in order to establish this as a fact, researchers were directed to this site while trying to locate the particular Shakti Peetha. Since ages, the temple has been held in great importance. The original 800-year old statue was destroyed during the War of 1971.
Location and structure
The temple is located in Old Dhaka right behind the campus of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), on Orphanage Road near Bakshi Bazar area. There is a permanent altar outside the main temple premises. It hosts the yearly Puja (worship) of Goddess Durga.
Inside the main temple premises, there are four identical structures devoted to Lord Shiva. To the east of these is the main temple, which hosts the statue of the Goddess.
Declaration as National Temple of Bangladesh
In 1996, Dhakeshwari Temple was renamed Dhakeshwari Jatiya Mandir (National Temple) reflecting its position as the center of Hindu culture and worship in Bangladesh. This was the culmination of a major campaign by Bangladeshi Hindu groups who had been demanding official recognition for the primary Hindu place of worship following the declaration of Islam as the state religion in 1988. As a result, the Flag of Bangladesh is hoisted every morning outside the main temple premises, and it follows the National Flag Code rules such as rendering half-mast on nationally declared days of mourning.
As is the practice in other leading religious places of worship in Bangladesh, day-long prayers are common practice during important national holidays such as Independence Day, Language Martyrs’ Day, Victory Day and birth and death anniversaries of popular leaders.