Shahbag is a district within Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, that has been a cultural and political center for the people of Bangladesh. It has passed through four significant stages since the Mughals, during which period it received its name: Shah (Garden) Bag (Persian) or "Persian Garden". The Gardens of Shahbag have been one of the defining characteristics of the district. During the seventeenth century, when the Mughals thrived with the muslin manufacturing and trade, Shahbag presented a splendid scene of gardens. The second stage of Shahbag's recent history occurred with the decline of the fortunes of the Mughals during the eighteenth century. During that period, the British East India Company rose while the district's gardens fell into disrepair and neglect.
The third stage took place during the nineteenth century with the establishment of the British Raj. With the rise of British involvement in Dhaka, Shahbag began to regain its splendor. When the British instigated split off into Bengal during the early twentieth century, Shahbag became a political, educational, cultural, and religious center of the region. Great Britain's Raj's arbitrary creation of Bengal fostered a sense of nationalism for those living in Dhaka and a sense of resentment for many in the rest of India. From that time, in the early 1900s, the people of Bengal established themselves as a national identity, a patriotism. During that period, Shahbag took the lead in advancing education as well as the drive for an independent Muslim state. The boom of building during the period of the British Raj has left a legacy of mansions throughout the district. The All India Muslim Education Conference held in Shahbag in 1905 led directly to the creation of the All Muslim League, the political organization that led the way to the creation of East and West Pakistan with the independence of India from Great Britain in 1947.
The fourth stage came next, with Shahbag taking a leading role in the creation of Bangladesh. Having tasted the sense of regional identity as Bengal under the British Raj, the people of East Pakistan (the renamed Bengal) determined to come out from under the shadow of West Pakistan by claiming independence. In 1971 they won their war of independence from East Pakistan and created of Bangladesh. During the fifth stage, the era of national independence, Bangladesh has been struggling to recover from the devastation of their civil war with Pakistan. That has been a slow process, with Bangladesh slowly rising from one of the poorest nations in the world. Shahbag has been playing a key role within Dhaka and Bangladesh, hosting the top university and professional schools in the nation as well has standing as the cultural and religious center of the nation.