Overview of Sylhet

History of Sylhet

The 14th century marked the beginning of Islamic influence in Sylhet. A Muslim saint, Hazrat Shaikh al Mushaek Jalal Uddin, popularly known as Shah Jalal, arrived in Sylhet in 1303 CE from Mecca via Delhi with 360 Sufi saints and army generals such as Sikander Ghazi, Syed Nasiruddin and Khwaja Burhanuddin Qahtan defeating Govinda of Gaur. Sikander Ghazi was the direct nephew of Sultan Feroze Shah of Delhi. Under the spiritual leadership of Hazrat Shah Jalal and his 360 companions the local pagans were brought under control and they began to spread Islam. He died in Sylhet in or around the year 1350 CE. His shrine is located inside the parameter of the mosque complex known as Dargah-e-Shah Jalal. Even today Shah Jalal remains revered; visitors arrive from all over Bangladesh and beyond to pay homage. Saint Shah Jalal and his companions were responsible for the conversion of most of the populace from their earlier beliefs in Hinduism, Buddhism and Paganism to Islam. Shortly, thereafter, Sylhet became a centre of Islam in Bengal. In the official documents and historical papers, Sylhet was often referred to as Jalalabad during the era of the Muslim rule. In the late 18th century, the British East India Company became interested in Sylhet and saw it as an area of strategic importance in the war against Burma. Sylhet gradually was absorbed into British control and administration and was governed as a part of Bengal. After the British administrative reorganization of India, Sylhet was eventually incorporated into Assam. It remained a part of Assam for the rest of the era of British rule. In 1947, following a referendum, almost all of erstwhile Sylhet became a part of East Pakistan, barring the Karimganj subdivision which was incorporated into the new Indian state of Assam.[7] The referendum was held on 3 July 1947, there were a total of 546,815 votes cast on 239 polling stations, a majority of 43.8 per cent voted in favour of East Bengal. There were protests regarding bogus votes.[8] However, the referendum was acknowledged by Article 3 of the India Independence Act of 18 July 1947.[9] In 1971, Sylhet became part of the newly formed independent country of Bangladesh.[5] The Sylhet region has a "friendship link" with the city of St Albans, in the United Kingdom. The link was established in 1988 when the District council supported a housing project in Sylhet as part of the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless. Sylhet was chosen because it is the area of origin for the largest ethnic minority group in St Albans.[10] The majority of British Banngladeshis are of Sylheti ethnic origin [; Boarder Area: It is bounded by Meghalaya State of India on the north, Tripura State on the south, Assam State of India on the east and Dhaka division on the west and Chittagong division on the southwest.

Description of Sylhet

Nestled in the picturesque Surma Valley amidst scenic tea plantations and lush green tropical forests, greater Sylhet is a prime attraction for all tourists visiting Bangladesh. Laying between the Khasia and the Jaintia hills on the north, and the Tripura hills on the south, Sylhet breaks the monotony of the flatness of this land by a multitude of terraced tea gardens, rolling countryside and the exotic flora and fauna. Here the thick tropical forests abound with many species of wildlife, spread their aroma around the typical hearth and homes of the Mainpuri Tribal maidens famous for their dance. The Sylhet valley is formed by a beautiful, winding pair of rivers named the Surma and the Kushiara both of which are fed by innumerable hill streams from the north and the south. The valley has good number of haors, which are big natural depressions. During winter these haors are vast stretches of green land, but in the rainy season they turn into turbulent seas. These haors provide a sanctuary to the millions of migratory birds who fly from Siberia across the Himalayas to avoid the severe cold there. Sylhet has also a very interesting and rich hilstory, Before the conquest by the Muslims, it was ruled by local chieftains. In 1303, the great Saint Hazrat Shah Jalal came to Sylhet from Delhi with a band of 360 disciples to preach Islam and defeated the then Raja Gour Gobinda. Sylhet thus became a district of saints, shrines and daring but virile people. Its rich potentialities became easily attractive and the 18th century Englishmen made their fortune in tea plantation. About 80 km. from Sylhet town connected by road and rail, Srimangal, which is known as the tea capital of Bangladesh, is the actual tea center of the area. For miles and miles around, the visitor can see the teagardens spread like a green carpet over the plain land or on the sloping hills. A visit to the tea plantation in Sylhet is a memorable experience. Sylhet, the tea granary of Bangladesh, not only has over 150 tea gardens but also proudly possesses three largest tea gardens in the world in both area and production. Sylhet is the land of Shrine’s, natural Hills, forests, beautiful tree plantations and lots of Haors. It is an old city with full of natural beauties. A large number of tourists come every year to visit Sylhet. The main attraction of Sylhet city is the Shrine of Hajrat Shahjalal(R) and Hajrat Shah Poran (R). Shrine of Hajrat Shahjalal (R) is on the top of a hillock (tilla) in Sylhet city. Thousands of visitors are coming everyday in this Shrine. Shrine of Hajrat Shah Paran (R) is eight km far from Sylhet town on the Sylhet-Jaflong road where also thousands of visitors visits this Shrine everyday. Road journey to Sylhet is an wonderful experience through roads running ups and down the hills and green lush tea gardens of nature at its best.

Geography of Sylhet

Sylhet division occupies the north east part of Bangladesh, has an area of 12596 sq. km and a population of 7.899 million. There are 4 districts and 14 municipalities under Barisal. It is a natural hilly, forest area with ox bow lakes and famous shrines.

Districts of Sylhet