Panam Nagar – Sonargaon, Bangladesh - Atlas Obscura

Panam Nagar

Sonargaon, Bangladesh

This historic textile city was abandoned after being ravaged by fire. 


In its heyday, Panam Nagar was home to a prosperous community of Hindu merchants that turned the medieval Bengali capital into a thriving textile trading hub in the 19th century. It’s no coincidence that the East India Company set up its permanent offices in Panam Nagar (Panam City), which was then the Bengali capital. Yet if textiles brought wealth to the town, they likely contributed to its downfall as well. 

Uncertainty surrounds the origins of the fire that razed much of the historic city to the ground, but the fact that such a large number of textiles were stored in the buildings here made the area a huge fire hazard. It is also not clear whether the Hindu community abandoned Panam Nagar before or after the rumor that the town was haunted began. What is known is that what’s left of Panam Nagar has been left derelict for decades, and locals have nicknamed it “Ghost City” and “City of the Dead.”

Only 52 of the city’s original buildings are still standing. Most are two-story structures, standing one attached to the other along the main thoroughfare. The oldest of these buildings is said to date back to the 15th century, but most are from the 19th century. It is obvious that these were buildings made for affluent residents, judging from the colonial architecture, the thickness of the walls, and their endurance in spite of decades of neglect.

Know Before You Go

Panam Nagar is in Sonargaon, about 18 miles (30 km) southeast of Dhaka, along the Meghna River. It can be reached by bus from Gulistan Station in Dhaka, but this may take an inordinate amount of time due to traffic and frequent stops. Should you decide to take this option, the bus stop for Panam Nagar is Magrapara Crossing, from which a rickshaw can take you to Panam Nagar. The other option is to take a taxi from Dhaka to Panam Nagar and back. Depending on your negotiating skills, the whole affair can be very affordable.

Due to the level of disrepair, it is ill-advised to enter some of the abandoned houses in Panam Nagar.

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May 29, 2019

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