Hatirjheel (হাতিরঝিল)also known as Hatirjheel-Begunbari) is a lakefront in Dhaka, Bangladesh that has been transformed into a transportation medium for minimizing traffic congestion.
The area was constructed under Bangladesh Army and the Special Works Organization (SWO). It is now a popular recreational spot for residents of Dhaka and is currently undergoing renovation
Building the entire site required 19.71 billion (19,710 million) taka and an area of 302 acres. Of this, 10.48 billion (10,480 million) taka was spent in acquiring the site. 46% of the area belongs to RAJUK, which includes an area of 81 acres for a "court of walks", 141 acres for public lands and 1 acre for BTV. The project was first permitted in October 2007, and was said to be completed within three years (by June 2010). However, construction began on December 2008, which took a further half year of time for expanding it. The total money to create the project included the money of RAJUK (1,113.7 billion taka), LGED (2,760 million) and WASA (866.95 million).
During the dry season, the Hatirjheel lake can hold approximately 3.06 billion liters of water, and during the rainy season about 4.81 billion liters of water. This makes Hatirjheel lake the largest body of water inside the capital of Bangladesh.
The entire area of Hatirjheel is meticulously designed with about four main and four minor bridges (viaducts), and several overpasses (flyovers) and footbridges. There are sitting arrangements for pedestrians by the river-side. A lake flows through the heart of the project with a 16 km road surrounding it. It has a picturesque view, which people from all over the Bangladesh come to see. Bus service and boat rides are available, and facilities are there for small scale family picnics. At night, lights of different hues illuminate the entire Hatirjheel, especially on the bridges. The area has been delightfully decorated with flowering shrubs and trees. After its completion, the project became a place for pleasure-seekers. As Dhaka is densely populated with people, and is occupied with numerous congested buildings, a suffocating environment results from the shortage of fresh air; conveniently Hatirjheel consists of a large open space that is full of fresh air. Hatirjheel is considered to be one of the most notable places in Dhaka.
Legend has it that the elephants of Dhaka's Pilkhana used to take baths in these wetlands – hence the name Hatirjheel.
Urban planner, architect Iqbal Habib, who heads the consultant firm of the Hatirjheel-Begunbari development project, said that the Bhawal Raja used to keep his tamed elephants at Pilkhana. He said that the elephants were taken to the wetlands through the Elephant Road and Hatirpool.