With well-planned lakes, remarkable architecture and a range of plants in the surroundings, Zinda Park in Narayanganj has all the elements redolent of serenity and tranquillity for visitors.
The park in Rupganj area is an ideal place for people who wish to spend a day away from the hustle and bustle of urban life.
The calm, quiet and peaceful environment of the park makes visitors feel as if the place is Bangladesh's Shantiniketan.
What the visitors do not know is that the park is unlike the other commercial parks in the city. It is a shining example of how far social cooperation and participation can go towards accommodating and sustaining nature and aesthetics.
The park – which locals have named Ideal Village – is the outcome of the thoughts of five visionaries, who began their journey almost four decades ago in 1980.
Tabarak Hossain Kusum is one of the five who first dreamt of a beautiful community village when he saw his childhood playground being illegally grabbed by unscrupulous elements. He and four of his friends planned to build a society for the next generation where children would have every facility, including playgrounds, schools, libraries and entertainment, with a touch of nature.
They formed a samity (forum) named Agnibina Students Forum, which initially had a capital of Tk60, the monthly instalment being Tk10.
However, it was not a smooth ride in the beginning as elderly people were not supportive of the initiative. Tenacious as they were, though, they refused to give up.
Activities in the early days were limited, such as rewarding meritorious students, providing financial support to disadvantaged pupils and planting trees.
In 1985, the forum was renamed as Agrapathik Palli Samity (Pioneer PalliSamity).
At present, the Samity has 5,000 members straddling seven nearby villages, each of whom pays a monthly instalment of Tk100. With the forum's funds, the management has built a primary school containing a beautiful playground, a five-storey library and a mosque.
The forum also provides interest-free loans to poor farmers and helps people wishing to go abroad to earn a better livelihood.
Examples of such accomplishments earned through a social initiative are not widely common. What Ideal Village has achieved has required the active participation and sacrifice of people involved with it.
"We believe in the idea of doing social business for social development," Abdullah Al Shahin, secretary of Ideal Village, told The Business Standard.
He said that Zinda Park had generated employment for 70 people.
The park has three governing bodies –Opus Cabinet, Opus Parliament and Opus Commission.
People visiting the park generally evince a desire to know the secrets behind its efficient management.
"Last year, a group came from Bagerhat and solicited our help to start similar such programmes in their hometown," said Shahin.
There is a magnificent lake on three sides of the park, which extends over 150 acres of land. Swans and ducks swimming in the lake are an eye-catching image. The park boasts more than 25,000 trees and plants of 250 different species.
Morshed Alam Siddique, a retired Planning Commission officer, was part of a group visiting the park on Wednesday. He spent the whole day there.
"The park is worth visiting," Morshed told The Business Standard.
"This is a place where you get fresh air, a calm environment and a scenic landscape on the outskirts of a polluted Dhaka," he said.
He wishes to see more such initiatives undertaken in the country.