Revamped infrastructure and beautification projects have breathed new life into Ramna Park as people throng its shaded walkways – some for gentle jogging and some for a leisurely walk. The ambience comes alive with birds and squirrels.
At twilight, the new lighting system illuminates the walkways, enchanting the park visitors, while wooden bridges on both sides of the lake add to the charm.
A corner has been dedicated to children -- complete with colourful sports equipment, swings and newly-decorated slides. The presence of children, especially on the weekend, turns the park into a bustling hub of youthful energy.
The park now offers a perfect environment for both leisurely strolls and invigorating workouts, allowing visitors to engage in physical fitness. It also contains some resting areas dedicated to relaxation after exercises.
The park also provides the convenience of modern toilets, a rarity among parks in the city. A Chinese restaurant was torn down and replaced with a coffee corner, now ready to open to customers.
The park spans 27.72 hectares and showcases a rich variety of plant life, with approximately 211 species. They include rare varieties of both small and large trees, including Nagalingam, commonly known as the cannonball tree, Arjuna, and Rakta Kanchan.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the park underwent a remarkable revitalisation, funded by the Public Works Department with a budget of around Tk 460 million. It now features a two-lane wooden deck that was built by excavating the lake. The walkway is adorned with red ceramic bricks, and bituminous carpet roads have also been added.
The park now features two LED displays that display health-related messages and elaborate on the species of trees. The security has also been tightened.
Toufique Anjam, an alumnus of Dhaka University's Department of International Relations, said: "You can take a deep breath here and find some respite from the urban chaos.”
The park is home to some rare plants that are not easily found elsewhere in the city, Toufique said. “The park offers an opportunity to exercise, which is very good for our health. The security system is commendable as well. No theft or mugging occurs here. The environment is very pleasant.”
Ataus Samad, who visited the park with his friends, said, "Previously, the park was in a dilapidated state and the ambience was far from appealing. Now it’s a delight to walk around here.”
“Krishnachura has bloomed in the park and it enhances the beauty. I think it is now an ideal place to visit with friends.”
Khairul Haque, who arrived with his family from Lalbagh, said: “Other parks are filled with drug addicts and vagabonds. But that is not the case in this park.”
VIBRANT CHILDREN’S CORNER
Nahida Akhtar, who arrived at the park with her daughter from Dania, said: "We used to visit another children's park before, but it's closed now. So Ramna Park is our go-to place now. And the children love playing here."
Her daughter Nafisa Anjum Sara said she made some new friends at the park.
Samia Sultana, another regular visitor in the park, said: "Every ride in the park is wonderful. Children learn to share and how to wait here. They meet each other and engage in socialising."
“The park provides a great environment for children to engage in sporting activities. This is an open park and is always accessible with no need for any tickets,” she said.
ALL-DAY WORKOUT HUB
The park opens at dawn and remains shut for two hours at 12 pm. As long as the park remains open, people can be seen working out, jogging or walking in groups.
Zahid Ahmed, a resident of Shantibagh, visits the park every morning. “Many of us are diabetics and need to walk in the morning and evening. This park is very convenient.”
Shahidul Islam, a professor of mathematics at Dhaka University, is the vice president of the Alpha Yoga Society. He said that around 54 organisations help people with physical fitness in the park.
“Exercising has no alternative to maintain good health. Few places in Dhaka offer open areas to walk or stroll around. In that case, Ramna Park is a blessing for us," he said.
Dr Md Kamruzzaman, a doctor from the BIRDEM Hospital, was seen exercising in the park. He lauded the improvements to the park.
"Ramna Park is perfect for fun and relaxation with its beautiful surroundings.”
[Writing in English by Arshi Fatiha Quazi]