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Sonakanda Fort

The Sonakanda fort is one of the many river forts built to protect Dacca and Narayanganj from external attacks, especially through water routes. This fort is situated in Narayanganj, Bangladesh, on the eastern bank of the Shitalakshya river, complimenting the Hajiganj fort on the western bank, together protecting the river route to and from Dacca and Narayanganj. Bangladesh is a unique and beautiful, yet largely undiscovered area for the tourists to explore. Together with the Indian state of West Bengal, the history of Bengal dates back to the times before The Mahabharata, an evidence of which are numerous river forts built to protect ancient trade routes along the Ganges river and the Brahmaputra river together with their innumerable tributaries and distributaries. The Sonakanda fort with a unique history is one of the prominent river forts of East Bengal and together with its beautiful architecture presents one of the most interesting historical tourist spots in today’s Bangladesh.

History of the Sonakanda Fort

Archaeologists have failed to specifically date the actual foundation of the Sonakanda fort. It is believed that this fort existed in its earliest form in the era of the partially mythical Gangaridi Kingdom mentioned in The Mahabharata. The first mud walls seen around the fort date back to the 2nd century AD. This fort was built at a very strategic position on the river networks of East Bengal, and its position was historically important not only for the purpose of protecting the ancient cities of Sonargaon, Dacca and Narayanganj, but also keeping pirates at bay in the heartland of Bengal. (more in the History section)

The Fort as you see Today

Today, massive thick walls and a huge artillery platform make the main attractions of the fort, which is divided into two key parts. The first part comprises of the fortified defensive walls of gigantic dimensions. The outer walls are 3.05 meters in height and thicker at the bottom, typical of river forts in and around this region. Several wide and narrow loopholes on the outer walls allowed guns and light cannons to fire shell on the invaders. The second part comprises of the raised outwork on the western face of the fort to defend it from river bandits and pirates.

The most significant part of the fort is the massive artillery platform, spherical in shape with a stairway leading up to the main artillery platform above. Cannons with bigger range and calibre were placed on this structure aiming at the aggressors coming through the Shitalakshya river. These raised platforms were unique to the river forts of the Mughal Empire.

The platform is surrounded by two circular structures, the diameter of the inner one being 15.7 meters and that of the outer one 19.35 meters. The structure is more than six meters in height, surrounded by protective walls. The fort is quadrangular in plan, with octagonal bastions on the four corners. The corner bastions on both sides of the western wing are wider than those on the eastern wing. The only gate of the fort is to the north. The arched entrance is placed within a rectangular frame, and the gateway is higher than the average height of the walls of the fort, decorated with several groomed panels.

Today, the Sonakanda fort, with almost intact Mughal-era constructions and examples of pre-Mughal architecture, gives a clear idea of amalgamation of different forms of Hindu and Islamic fortification styles. It is a unique historical site, offering tourists an understanding of the structure of a river fort in a predominantly aquatic region of the Indian subcontinent.

Opening Hours

The fort premises are open 24 hours and the entry is free. However, it is recommended that visits to the fort should be made between 8 am and 6 pm, as in that timeframe local guides offer visitors interesting tours around the fort and the surrounding countryside.