Dhanmondi is a maddeningly crowded part of Dhaka. Home to many commercial establishments, the streets of Dhanmondi are lined with private universities, many with ugly facades. Amongst them, the brick building Chhayanaut Shangskriti Bhaban, built in 2006 provides a refreshing respite to the eyes.
Chhayanaut was established in 1961, the year that witnessed Rabindranath Tagore’s birth centenary (the website is currently accessible only in Bangla and work is on to make it accessible in English). It is well known that Muhammad Ayub Khan, the first military dictator of Pakistan, had banned the playing of Tagore songs on radio and television in erstwhile East Pakistan, but Tagore’s songs and poems inspired a strong linguistic and cultural movement. A few brave people came together to successfully hold events in 1961 celebrating Tagore. Following the celebrations, they reunited to establish Chhayanaut to carry on the struggle for Bangla culture and heritage. Chhayanaut played an important role in enhancing Bangla nationalism though the Bangla culture and heritage and continues to do so, till date. The music and poetry of Tagore and of Kazi Nazrul Islam, the national poet of Bangladesh, were often invoked to promote Bangla culture.