The booklovers haven

Rajnin Farzana
Nilkhet is the booklover’s heaven with a strong legacy and historical background. Due to its close proximity to the major educational institutions of the city such as Dhaka University, Dhaka Medical College, BUET, Eden College, College of Home Economics, Dhaka College, City College and others, Nilkhet acts as the chief provider of reference books, educational equipments, stationary products, word processing, photocopy facilities etc to the students.
Popular assumption says the name Nilkhet comes from the history of Nil Chash (indigo cultivation) during the British Colonial Period. After our Independence in 1971, four young men started selling second-hand books and magazines placed on gamcha (woven towel) under a tamarind tree in Nilkhet. Over time, with thousands of bookstores having old and new books, Nilkhet has become the destination of the bookworms in the country.
The 3000 square feet area of Nilkhet consists of thousands of shops linked through numerous narrow alleyways. Some passages of the market are so compactly located that even sunlight cannot pass through. However, it doesn’t prohibit the hundreds of visitors from coming regularly regardless of their age, gender, choice and needs. The best thing about Nilkhet is not only the variety of books but the affordable price as well.
Many of us possess a passion for collecting a variety of local and international books but are deterred by their high price. Nilkhet offers old and photocopied reference books, modern and classic literature, guide books, maps, job solutions, religious books and many others at a surprisingly low price. There are shops that offer brand new books as well.
Medical, engineering, law, O and A level books, BBA, MBA, GMAT, SAT, GRE, TOEFL, IELTS books are available at Hazrat Sahjalal Market, Babupura Khudra Samabay Market and Islamia Bohumukhi Samabay Samiti in Nilkhet. Friends Book Corner in Rafin Plaza is famous for selling both new and old English books in hardcover and paperback versions. Besides Friends Book Corner, many text book sellers of Nilkhet allow students to return their previously purchased books with some commission.
All sorts of textbooks can be found here from pre-school to post graduation. Beside textbooks, a Bengali medium student will find varieties of Bengali and English grammar, dictionary, guidebooks and other reference books, story books etc in a single store over here. Reference books used in English medium schools are quite expensive but the photocopied versions are available at Nilkhet at a cheaper rate. For tertiary and post graduate level, there is no alternative than Islamia Book Market of Nilkhet. Sometimes teachers from universities provide high priced reference books in shops of Nilkhet and allow students to collect a photocopy of the books at a lower price.
Besides book shops, there are a lot of photocopy stores in Nilkhet. Students from nearby educational institutions, along with many officials, visit Nilkhet for photocopies and printing at a cheaper rate. Besides photocopy, Nilkhet offers a number of shops where book bindings, photo from photo print, ID card making, banner and poster print, online job application facilities, AutoCad and other services are available.

There are tailor shops for men at this market too. Most of the tailors have fabrics and made to order facility for men’s formal and informal wear. All these facilities are mostly available at Gausul Azam market adjacent to Nilkhet police station.
Stationary products like colourful and attractive pencil boxes, pouches, eraser, pencil, pen, colour pencil, scales, dairies, copies, white paper, school bags etc is available here. Many shops offer practical khata and draw practical copies for science students of secondary and higher secondary level. Colours, papers and brushes for painting are also available here and the medical book stores of Nilkhet sell medical equipment’s and aprons as well.
A place lacks attraction without offering an assortment of good food. Nilkhet has various options for that and Tehari is the most famous of all them all. There is a number of Tehari Ghasr that offer tehari, chicken biriyani, kacchi, khicuri, meat and fish curry, rice dishes etc. that attracts hundreds of students. Sometimes, the large crowd causes long waiting ques. There are some tea stalls as well where jilapi, shingara, chhola and other local snacks can be enjoyed.
The market has long been the centre of the second-hand book trade in Dhaka and has gradually acquired its own unique characteristic. Students don’t visit this place for text books only. They come here to collect rare books, stationary items or to make photocopies. Sometimes people visit just to walk along the passages between the bookshops to keep in touch with their reading habits and find peace inside this book heaven.

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