It is a rare sight these days in the congested old part of the capital.
Residents of Bangshal were busy yesterday _ taking baths, children were enjoying jumps and dips – in a pond, surrounded by coconut, mango and nut trees, reminiscent of rural tranquillity among the busy city life.
Although most ponds in Old Dhaka are now long gone, this one still exists on one acre of land, and is exceptionally well maintained.
“It is a pleasure to have a bath here, the water in this pond is good,” said Raju, after finishing his bath.
Raju, who comes from Noakhali and works in a factory making bags, told the Dhaka Tribune that he takes a bath every day in the pond, paying Tk3.
After playing football with friends, Md Tafseer was busy getting down to the pond.
“I have a bathroom in my house, but I come here to bathe with my friends,” Tafseer said.
There are two gates to the pond, one at the north side and one at the south. Bathing is free for the local residents and they use the north gate, while outsiders, who are mostly migrants working in the many small factories in the area, use the south gate and pay a small fee.
Sahle Mohammad, who was selling shoes outside the north gate, said such a place for bathing was very rare nowadays in Dhaka.
Abdul Aziz, who was collecting money at the south gate, said around 1,000 people, including 200 from themohalla (locality), use the pond daily for bathing. The takings come to around Tk2,500 a day, and bathing time is from 6am to noon.
Aziz also narrated the pond’s historical background.
“Haji Badoruddin Shaheb bought the pond from a British citizen, called Meripogoj, in 1822,” Aziz said, claiming he was an eighth generation descendant of Badoruddin.
The Bangshal Boro Masjid (mosque) committee is now in charge of maintaining the pond, and social activities are carried out from the money earned from the bathing, Aziz said.
“Although we are the inheritors, due to family feud and conflict in the locality, the pond is now under the mosque committee,” he said.
Two cashiers, six staff members, four sweepers and four night guards are employed to take care of the pond.
The 40-feet deep pond is surrounded by 42 coconut, 10 mango and a good number of nut trees. The whole area is fenced off by iron and steel grills.
The pond water, however, looked a bit murky. Aziz said it appeared that way because mud and dirt had been accumulating at the bottom for a long time.
“If the pond could be dug out again, the water would be clean,” he said.
But there is never any money left for dredging, Aziz said, as all the earnings from the pond are spent on community welfare, like arranging marriage ceremonies for poor couples.