Things you should know about Sylhet

Rain forests, tea estates, sub-tropical hills and beautiful river valleys are the things that define Sylhet.  Ancient name of it was 'Srihatta' which in Sanskrit means a prosperous trading center. Currently, Sylhet is the 5th largest city of the country.

There are two correlations between United Kingdom and Sylhet. The first one is of direct ruling incorporated with few upraising while the second one is of pure migration from the third world to first. In the 17th century, when British conquered Indian subcontinent, they saw Syhlet as an area of strategic importance in its war against the than Burma, currently Myanmar.

In 1778, the East India Company appointed Robert Lindsay as the 'Collector' of Sylhet. He was allegedly a collector with ‘low moral values’. Locals did not have good bond with him. In 1781, a severe flood wiped out crops and killed one third of the population in the region. The locals in Sylhet blamed the British rulers for not doing enough, which led to an uprising. This particular uprising was led by Syed Hadi and Syed Mahdi, also known as Pirzada. Collector Robert Lindsay’s forces had the advantage with guns as locals only had swords. Robert Lindsay’s forces defeated Pirazada led forces in a battle near Sylhet Shahi Eidgah.

Later many Sylhetis associated themselves with the British Raj in different government positions and many Sylhetis served as sailors and militiamen in the British Navy during the WWII. After the war, a good portion of these sailors and militiamen settled in London. This started a flow of migration. The process is ‘present continuous’.

In 1947, following a referendum, almost all of Sylhet became a part the then East Pakistan, current Bangladesh, barring the Karimganj subdivision which was incorporated into Indian state of Assam.

Before dominated by the British Raj, Sylhet was inhabited by Indo-Aryan Brahmins, though ethnically the population has traces of Assamese. Ancient Kingdom of Harikela was situated in a place in the current Sylhet town. Sylhet came under Muslim rule when a warrior named Sikander Shah, with orders from Shamsuddin Firuz Shah, the Sultan of Gaur, attacked Hindu Raja Gaur Gobind to revenge Raja's ordering to cut hands of  a local man for sacrificing a cow. Sikander Shah was initially defeated by Raja's forces twice. In 1303, a Yamani Muslim saint, Shah Jalal, arrived with his 360 followers including his nephew Shah Paran in Sylhet from Mecca via Delhi. He allegedly had instructions from Nizam Uddin Aulia whom he had met in Delhi, to help Sikander in defeating Raja Gaur Gobind. Shah Jalal and his 360 followers were well known for their strength and bravery. Through armed battles, they managed to defeat Gaur Gobind and started spreading Islam in the region. Shah Jalal and Shah Paran followed the ‘Sufism’ section of Islam for the purpose of spreading the messages from the creator.  From that time on, the region was termed as Jalalabad. Shah Jalal died in 1347. He left behind no descendants.

Sylhet is now home to 6,812 mosques, 451 temples, 91 churches and 4 Buddhist temples.

On August 1995 government of Bangladesh declared Sylhet as the 6th division of the country.

Places you must go if you are in Syhlet: 

Keane Bridge: it is the gateway to Sylhet city; built in 1936 over Shurma River. it was named after Sir Michael Keane who was the Governor of Assam from 1932 to 1937. During the independence war, the bridge was blown away by Pakistan army. In 1977, Bangladesh government repaired it.

Ali Amjad Clock Tower: Country's first and therefore the oldest clock tower. It was built by Ali Ahmed Khan, a Nawab of Prithimpassa, in 1874. The tower stands on an octagonal base. The clock chamber is rectangular and crest of tower is shaped as a triangular pyramid.

Surma River: Named after King Khetrapal's queen. The word literally means beautiful and pleasing. Persian traveler Iban Batuta came to Sylhet sailing along the Surma Rivar. He termed it in his book as blue-eyed river. In 1919, Rabindranath Tagore came to Sylhet by sailing through the Surma as well but he did not have any poetic name for it.

Dargah Mahalla: Shrine of Sufi Islamic saint Hazrat Shahjalal (Full name: Jalal Kuniat Mujdarat). Hazrat Shahjalal came to Sylhet in 1303 and defeated Hindu Raja Gaur Gobind before settling down. He died in 1347. He left behind no descendants.

Murari Chand College: This educational institute was established on June 1892 by Raja Girish Chandra Roy with 4 teachers and 18 students. Currently it has over 140 teachers and 7,000 students. In 1897, the original college building collapsed in a devastating earthquake. After death of Raja Girish Chandra Roy in 1908, the British Raj took over the college. In 1925 the college moved to its current campus at Thackarey Hills. In 2000, the college won the national award as the best educational institution. The library of M C College is famous for its collection of books, which numbers around 100,000.

Shahi Eidgah of Sylhet:It is a large open-air mosque built on outskirts of a city for purpose of performing Eid salah. Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb built it in the 17th century. About 1,00,000 people can perform prayer at same time. It is one of the largest and oldest Eidgahs of the country.

Other places you can visit if you are in Sylhet: 

Museum of Rajas

Shohid Minar

Tea garden near the airport road

Shahjalal University

Sri Chaitanya Dev Temple

Gour Gobinda Fort in Chauhatta


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