Photo Journal: Welcome to Sadarghat, Dhaka’s Chaotic and Colourful River Port

The Sadarghat Launch Terminal is the main port of Bangladesh’s capital city Dhaka
The Sadarghat Launch Terminal is the main port of Bangladesh’s capital city Dhaka | © Pascal Mannaerts / Alamy Stock Photo
Packed with cargo ferries and riverboat taxis, the Sadarghat Launch Terminal is the main port of Bangladesh’s capital city Dhaka – and one of the busiest river ports in the world.

It’s noisome, polluted and chaotic, but the lifeblood of Dhaka flows from the river port of Sadarghat.

The Sadarghat Launch Terminal, located on the banks of the Buriganga River and one of the world’s largest river ports, is the main port of Bangladesh‘s vibrant capital city, which sees tens of thousands of people and tons of cargo pass through its docks daily.

About 200 large and small passenger launches – four-deck-high boat-like vehicles – depart and arrive at the terminal every day, connecting Dhaka to its southern destinations: Khulna, Barisal, Patuakhali and islands of the delta.

Here, the sight of hundreds of boats laden with passengers and merchandise crossing the river is truly fascinating.

Dock workers carry fruit and vegetables to the port | Meleah Moore / © Culture Trip
Noukas dingi boats line the banks of the Buriganga River, with multihued rugs on the open deck adding colour and aesthetic to the wooden boats. These ferrymen transport goods, workers and tourists across the river | Meleah Moore / © Culture Trip
Fresh satsumas, grapes and pomegranates are just some of the fruits on offer | © Meleah Moore / Culture Trip
The banks of the Buriganga River are always frenetic with bustle | Meleah Moore / © Culture Trip
A vendor ornately lays out apples for customers by the banks of the Buriganga River | Meleah Moore / © Culture Trip
The Sadarghat Launch Terminal is considered an entry point into the streets of Dhaka, especially for rural children. They try to earn a living through begging, collecting garbage and making boat repairs. Unfortunately, the area is seen as a high-risk place for street children to get involved in petty crime and drug peddling | Meleah Moore / © Culture Trip
The loading area for passengers and cargo to and from the nouka dingi riverboat taxis. While the water is polluted, and the rubbish lining the shore is a depressing sight, it still offers a fascinating glimpse of life on one of the busiest waterways in the world | Meleah Moore / © Culture Trip
An elderly man sporting a striking beard and sunglasses waits by the river for a launch to dock | Meleah Moore / © Culture Trip
A worker carries food in bags over his shoulder to the riverbank | Meleah Moore / © Culture Trip
This food vendor typically sells meals and snacks to the oarsmen who work in the port | Meleah Moore / © Culture Trip
A man with a red scarf stands by the docks waiting for a ferry transport | Meleah Moore / © Culture Trip
With the sounds of the motorised boats and the throngs of people selling and buying goods, the port makes for a cauldron of noise | Meleah Moore / © Culture Trip
Two typical launches are docked at the river terminal. The Bangladeshi launch, is the English word derived from the Spanish lancha (barge), are often four-decks high, carry several hundred passengers and are packed with vehicles and cargo | Meleah Moore / © Culture Trip
A dock worker takes a cigarette break in front of one of the launches lining the banks of the Buriganga River | Meleah Moore / © Culture Trip
A ferryman transports passengers on a nouka dingi or small rowboat taxi. Ship repair, sewage from the city, oil spills from boats and chemicals from industry have all led to pollution in the river | Meleah Moore / © Culture Trip
A man with a long beard stands in front of the water, with the iconic launch and nouka dingi boats in the background | Meleah Moore / © Culture Trip