Within a City
of the basic pursuits of life is the search for entertainment.
In Dhaka, where choices are limited, going to a shopping mall
is an activity that gives a moderate amount of pleasure even
though it may mean a substantial drain on the wallet. Bangladeshis
rush to the plazas and the malls, looking for a respite from
their daily mundane, hectic existence. But existing shopping
centres offer little more than rows and rows of shops selling
products from abroad. Some have food courts but this is hardly
enough to satisfy people's thirst for enjoyment. Most of these
'modern plazas' lack the basic ingredients of a proper complex,
be it for shopping or for entertainment. There has always been
emptiness in this booming service industry. The inauguration
of Bashundhara City, although at a time when most of the country
was reeling under the floods, is nevertheless the talk of the
town. Apart from the flashy title of being the 'biggest mall'
in South Asia, it is a complex that is sure to dazzle its visitors.
Dolon, a student of Government Lab, walks into the mammoth
hall and looks up at the dome skylight, he is speechless.
Goosebumps begin to rise and he gulps as he takes in the majestic
view of Bashundhara City's main hall. He and his friends are
here for a little sneak-peak into the much-awaited city of
promises, a city unlike any other, apparently the biggest
shopping mall in South Asia. Located at the southern side
of Panthapath, this colossal shopping mall has been built
by Bashundhara Group on 17 <>bighas of land, spending
an estimated staggering Tk 450 crore.
he makes his way through the artificial plants and décor,
he is amazed at the perfect ambience of natural and artificial
light, playing together to brighten up the whole place. The
floors too are well polished to reflect the light, glittering
and shining all around him. That is not too surprising as the
glass-made dome that covers the great hall is one of the biggest
in Asia right now and is especially designed to allow more light
and less heat. The interior and the exteriors are both made
of reflecting steel, with potted plants at selective points
to offer the best presentation. Artificial palm trees in the
main hall give the whole complex an international look.
is amazing. I have never seen anything like this before. I
cannot wait for it to become operational," says a dazed
Dolon. He along with thousands of others had patiently waited
five years for the project to be completed. Prime Minister
Begum Khaleda Zia formally inaugurated Bashundhara City complex
on August 5 at a gala function but the multiplex will not
be open to the public until September 10.
designers behind this mega complex were Vistaara Architects,
one of Dhaka's premier architecture firms, founded in 1994.
They were assisted by Arun Chaiesri Consulting Engineers Co.,
Ltd. (ACS) of Thailand and Environmental Engineering Consultants
Co., Ltd. (EEC) of Thailand. ACS and EEC provided the structural
and electro-magnetic design of the gigantic structure. The
building is wholly planned by Johnson Control of the USA and
designated as a world-class intelligent building.
Mohd. Ahsanullah (Retd), the Executive Director of Bashundhara
City, sounds fairly confident about the safety, security and
comfort provided by Bashundhara City. "We have assessed
all the likely threats that may occur in the general service
market and have taken the necessary precautions," he
says. On this criterion, there are two types of security:
physical security as well as electronic security. Because
security is vital, the authorities have hired about 200 security
personnel, including 30 firemen. "The guards are going
through a continuous training process and there are daily
briefings and assessments from the previous day to pinpoint
loopholes in the system and they are corrected to prevent
repetition," continues Ahsanullah. Other than this, there
will be civilian dressed guards to ensure that security is
maintained, without causing panic among the patrons.
are trying to create an awareness about the importance of
security," says Ahsanullah. Security related warnings
will also be announced over the Public Address System. Bags
and parcels that are unattended for a certain duration will
be taken away.
will also have female security guards in certain sections
where most of our clientele are ladies," adds Ahsanullah.
100 Closed Circuit Televisions have been installed at different
vantage points to watch out for trouble makers around the
complex, including the different points of entry into the
market, the substations and the chillers. There will be round-the-clock
security monitors that will be recording the daily activities
inside the complex. Apart from this, a squad of four guard
dogs known as 'sniffing dogs' are being trained to sniff out
explosives. Metal detectors will also be used to prevent illegal
arms from entering into the premises. Since selection of suitable
candidates for different posts is important, some army officers
have been given the duty of personnel selection. These officers
have a keen sense of selection as they have served in various
intelligence services and have a good understanding of people.
Three hundred cleaners will also be working around the clock
to keep the environment clean and hygienic. They have also
been given fire training and in case of a fire, they will
also help to fight the flames.
diesel-powered generators will take charge of the electrical
needs of the site in case of power surges. Bashundhara City
is centrally air conditioned with a refrigeration capacity
of 5750 tons from Level 1 through 8. There are also 5 Chillers,
5 Cooling Towers, 15 different pumps, 619 air handling units,
254 fan coil units and 14 exhaust and ventilation fans. Other
than that about 61 escalators and 20 lifts, including four
capsule elevators in the main hall underneath the giant dome,
all brought in from Schindler, Switzerland will add to the
comfort and convenience of the visitors to Bashundhara City.
panels have been set up all over the complex to detect fire
emergencies. Alongside that, there are 8 fire alarm panels
networked from all the levels to control the fire, should
one ever break out. Fire hydrants line many walls all over
the building complex.
are extinguishers on every level for spot fires and about
7000 fire and smoke detectors and devices throughout the multiplex.
Fire exit doors run from the basement levels to the 19th floor.
Other than that, 30 firemen are supposed to always be present
on the site to ensure fire safety.
is car parking facility in the basement of the shopping mall
for more than a thousand cars to be parked at the same time.
Right in front of the multiplex is a wide roadway, parallel
to Panthapath, to avoid traffic congestion on the main road.
The underground parking has three entry and exit points. There
is also space allotted for taxis and CNGs such that the customers
do not have to venture far with their shopping bags in their
hands. Also in the Underground section of the complex is a
supermarket and a restaurant where the main attraction is
Main Attractions of Bashundhara City
Levels 1 to 7 of Bashundhara City comprise the shopping complex.
Here, more than 2000 shops have been set up to cater to the
hustle and bustle of the buyers. International brand goods
along with local products will all be available. Add the abundance
of boutiques and saree shops and you have the ambience of
a bustling mall of Dhaka. If the prices are as competitive
as it is in Eastern Plaza, Bashundhara City will surely be
a place of good bargain and a shopper's paradise. The prices
are also accompanied by a vibrating choice of brands and models
in all product categories. Items to look forward to are readymade
garments, electrical and electronic gadgets, cosmetics, books,
perfume, art, antiques, kitchen appliances, crockery stores,
drugs, jewellery, optical accessories, stationary, leather
goods, sports equipment and goods and computers, among a swarm
of others. Most of the shops are still not fully finished
though many will start business as soon as the site is officially
open to the public. The tower section of the complex will
consist mainly of home appliances, kitchen items and sanitary
can comfortably stroll through the lavish halls of the centrally
air-conditioned complex where each storey is especially designed
to cater to the specific needs of the patrons. All that glitters
is probably gold in the rows of identical shops glittering
with jewellery. In addition, as profusion of silver, precious
stones and natural pearl shops will all be situated conveniently
around the complex.
will surely be lost in the shopping adventure and exotic environment
set around the centre. With so much on offer, shopping in
Bashundhara City will no doubt be a little exhausting because
one has to do so much of walking to take everything in, but
the experience of this huge complex should be worth it.
of the major attractions of the City is the Gold's Gym. Originating
in Venice, California in 1965, Gold's Gym has been in the
business of serious workouts. It is here that many bodybuilders
have found a haven to exercise and get that perfectly toned
body. Gold's Gym is the largest international gym with 680
fitness centres all over the globe and 3.5 million members.
Some of the facilities that they offer include cardio-vascular
training, strength training, weight training, fitness assessments,
nutrition centre, aerobics, spinning, swimming pool, steam,
sauna, jacuzzi and personal lockers. The gyms are totally
separate for the male and the female members. To avoid inconvenience,
both have separate pool and spa on two different levels of
punch-in cards allow the members to access the different facilities
and also provides a record of the daily activities. These
cards have different membership privileges. The members with
the Gold card will also have the additional opportunity to
use any Gold's Gym around the world for a duration of 14 days.
All memberships are on a yearly basis.
and more Features…
What's a mall without a food court? Bashundhara City has a
space reserved for a hundred food outlets on Level 8. These
will offer delicious cuisine from all over the world, all
under the same roof. The food court will follow a token system
and will have a seating capacity for more than 900 people
to dine at the same time.
the most exciting offering of Bashundhara City is the 3 Multi-screen
Cinema Theatre on Level 8. Show Motion Ltd., a joint venture
private company, has reached into this portion of the complex
to bring in the latest international blockbusters. State-of-the-art
equipment has been brought in to maximise the audio and visual
entertainment of the movie lovers of the city. Each of the
rooms will have seating arrangements for about 260 viewers
with a lot of space left open to bring in a homely atmosphere.
there is more for the youngsters at this complex. On Level
8, an indoor theme park --'Toggi World'-- has been set up
with a miniature Eiffel Tower standing in the middle with
the Statue of Liberty and Taj Mahal close by. The first indoor
theme park of this calibre, Toggi World features Bumper Cars,
a Mini Roller Coaster, Flying Carpet, Kiddy Swing, Merry-Go-Round
and many more fun rides for the whole family to enjoy. There
is also a section for the toddlers where they have specialised
rides. The rides include a Pink Cadillac, a little train,
a Piggy and many more. A party area has already been set aside
to host special events for children.
internet buffs is a cyber café housed with High Speed
Internet Connectivity. This place is mainly for people to
hang-out and have a drink or two while chatting with friends
or while surfing on the net.
large chunk of Level 8 has been set aside for video gamers
with electrifying entertainment. The visitors will be logged
into the virtual world of games with famous names like SEGA
and NAMCO all from Japan.
those who get their kicks from bringing down rolling pins,
there is AMF, the world renowned bowling ally also on this
level. All age groups will be allowed here. With music playing
in the background and your scores on LCD monitors, this will
surely be a fun place to chill out. There is even an ice-skating
rink although the ice is artificial.
what about the horrendous traffic jams that are bound to plague
Panthapath with the thousands of visitors to the City? The
Sonargaon signal is by far one of the worst signals of that
area and once the City is fully operational, the pressure
on the traffic there will be immense. The complex has a fairly
large parking area which may accommodate some of the vehicles
but will probably not do much to relieve the anticipated traffic
congestion. Kaiser, a furniture vendor, however, is not too
bothered about this. His shop is opposite to Bashundhara City
and he is very happy at the recent buzz of crowds. "There
will be a lot of traffic, but we will surely get a lot of
customers once people start to fill in this area. This is
a very neglected part of the area and now it will be a bustling
place," a grinning Kaiser remarks. Most shopaholics,
and there are many in this city, could not agree more. Ruksana,
a regular at all the major malls of the city says: "There
is so little to do in Dhaka in terms of entertainment. To
have a complex like this right here in the city is definitely
something to be excited about."