Sylhet is a major city in north-eastern Bangladesh. It is the main city of Sylhet Division, which consists of Sunamganj, Habiganj (variant of Habibganj), Maulvi Bazar and Sylhet Districts, and it was granted metropolitan city status in March 2009. Sylhet is located on the northern bank of the Surma River and is surrounded by the Jaintia, Khasi and Tripura hills. The city is approaching a population of 500,000 people and when the population growth is compared with other parts of Bangladesh, Sylhet has low population growth and density. It is one of the largest cities in Bangladesh. The Sylhet region is well known for its tea gardens and tropical forests. The city is also known for its business boom; it is one of the richest cities in Bangladesh, with new investments of hotels, shopping malls and luxury housing estates, brought mainly by expatriates living in the United Kingdom.
Sylhet has a history of conquests and heritage from different types of cultures. The city is described as a City of Saints, with the mausoleum of the great saint Hazrat Shah Jalal, who brought Islam to Bengal during the 14th century, being located here. During the next few centuries it was part of the state of Assam during the rule of British India. After the partition of India and Pakistan, Sylhet was part of East Pakistan based on a referendum, and is now part of Bangladesh. It played a major role in the Bangladesh Liberation War during the 1970s.
Places of Interest
The Shrine of Hazrat Shah Jalal
Even today, more than six hundred years after the death of Saint Hazrat Shah Jalal, the shrine is visited by innumerable devotees of every caste and creed, who make the journey from far away places. Legend says, the great saint who came from Delhi to preach Islam, defeated the then Hindu Raja (king) Gour Gobinda. He transformed the witchcraft followers of the Raja into catfishes which are still alive in the tank adjacent to the shrine Swords. The holy Quran and the robes of the holy saint are still preserved in the shrine.
Haripur Gas Field
Twenty two kilometers from Sylhet town is the Haripur Gas Field and at 35 km. point is the Jaintiapur’s Rajbari.
Only 5 km. from Jaintiapur is Jaflong, a scenic spot amidst tea gardens. At about 35 km. north-west of Sylhet town, linked by rail, road and river is Chhatak, the seat of Assam Bengal Cement Factory, Chhatak is famous for orange garden.
About 3 km. from Dakhinbagh Railway Station, Madhabkunda, rich with famous waterfall attracts large number of tourists from home and abroad every year.
Tamabil & Jaflong
Situated amidst splendid panorama, Tamabil is a border outpost on Sylhet-Shilong Road about 55 km. away from Sylhet town. Besides enchanting views of the area one can also have a glimpse of the waterfalls across the border from Tamabil. Jaflong is also a scenic spot nearby amidst tea gardens and rate beauty of rolling stones from hills.
About 80 km. from Sylhet town connected by road and rail, Srimangal 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 tea gardens spread like a green carpet over the plain land or on the sloping hills.
Temple of Sri Chaitannya Dev
About 500 years old famous temple of Sri Chaitanya Dev is located at Dhaka Dakhin about 45 km south-east from Sylhet town. The place is revered from being the ancestral home of the famous Vaishnava saint. Yearly fair is organised on the fullmoon day of the Bangla month Falgun. Hundreds and thousands of devotees from home and abroad attend this colorful fair.
Three kilometers to the north-east of the circuit house, the Shahi Eidgah was built on a hill by the Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb in the 17th century. It looks like a grade fort but is actually meant for Eid congregations, the two biggest Muslim festivals.
Gour Gobinda Fort
The Murarichand Government College is situated in a beautiful surrounding on a hilltop. To the north-west of the college lie the remains of King Gour Govinda’s Fort.
Situated 43 km. to the north of Sylhet town, on the Sylhet- Shillong road, Jaintiapur was the capital of an ancient kingdom which included the khasi and Jaintia Hills and plains of Jainta. Interesting ruins of this forgotten period lie scattered throughout Jaintiapur. A drive to Jaintiapur is an interesting and worthwhile experience.
An interesting feature of Sylhet region is the lifestyle of tribes such as the Tipperas, the Monipuris, Khasis and Garos who still live in their primitive ways in the hills, practicing their age-old rites, rituals, customs and traditions. During festivals such as, Rash Leela (Full-moon night in February) and Doljatra, the attractive young girls dressed in colorful robes, dance with the male members of their choice & love. The Monipuris perform their famous dance, based on allegorical love themes of the ancient mythology.
Sylhet is well-known for its wide variety of exquiste handicrafts. Well-known Sylhet cane products such as chair, table, tea trays, flower vases, bags and the exquisitely designed fine Sital Pati (a kind of mattress having natural cooling effect) are colorful souvenirs.