Sunday, November 27, 2016

Bangladesh for first-timers

Daniel McCrohan


Famously poor and heavily prone to flooding, Bangladesh makes an unlikely tourist destination, and a trip here is certainly off the beaten track. But if you're happy to leave behind your home comforts and willing to get out and explore, this beautifully green and wonderfully welcoming country could be one of the most fascinating places you ever visit.

Tempted? Here's a guide to the star attractions of one of the least visited countries in South Asia.

River trips

Bangladesh has more than 8,000km of navigable waterways and boarding a boat along a river is a quintessential Bangladesh experience. The most famous boat trip is aboard the old paddle-wheel cruiser known as The Rocket - Dhaka to Khulna is popular (although water levels are too low to go all the way to Khulna this year) - and of course your Sundarbans tiger trip will be by boat. But there are plenty of other, lesser-known trips you can take in pretty much any corner of the country. Even if you're not going anywhere in particular, you can just rock up at most river ghats and negotiate a fare with a boat-hand for a one-hour tour of the river. You'll have to have your best miming skills at the ready because it's very unlikely your boat-hand will speak any English...but it all adds to the adventure.

Spotting a Royal Bengal Tiger

The Sundarbans National Park is the world's largest mangrove swamp and 60% of it lies in Bangladesh (the rest is in neighbouring India). Extremely difficult to access, this region is home to the largest single population of tigers found anywhere in the world. There are thought to be almost 500 Royal Bengal Tigers roaming the Sundarbans (that's about 10% of the world's wild tigers) and boarding a boat to go in search of them is Bangladesh's undisputed No 1 tourist attraction. It's possible to dip into the mangrove forest on a self-organised day trip from Mongla, but for a true adventure, and to increase your admittedly very slim chances of seeing a tiger, book yourself onto a three- or four-day boat tour from Khulna with a reputable company such as The Guide Tours.

Tea estates

Predominantly agricultural, Bangladesh is rural bliss for many travellers and wherever you go you'll enjoy vistas that are beautifully lush and wonderfully green. Nowhere is this more the case than in the gentle hills of the northeast. This is Sylhet, Bangladesh's prime tea-growing region and a visit here offers the chance to escape the heat of the plains and a stroll around tea-growing estates before putting your feet up with a top-class cuppa. The most popular place to use as a base for your tealeaf explorations is Srimangal.

Hiking in the Chittagong Hills

Most of Bangladesh is, of course, as flat as a pancake, but few people realise that there are higher mountains here than in Scotland. The Chittagong Hill Tracts in the southeast of the country is hilly, forested and home to a number of Bangladesh's minority tribal groups. A troubled history of local unrest means authorities are reluctant to let tourists explore the area - you must first obtain a permit for the region and often you are required to have at least a guide, if not a police escort. This puts a lot of people off, and as such this area is only just starting to be explored by hikers. For ideas and tips on where to hike, try to hook up with members of the community-run hiking group Bangla Trek.

Riding rickshaws

Of course there are cycle rickshaws in many parts of the world, especially south Asia, but in Bangladesh they are arguably more colourful, more prevalent and more integral to everyday life than in any other place on earth. Designs are an art form in their own right - you can even take home painted panels of rickshaws as souvenirs - and riders take great pride in making theirs look best. Almost every town and city has a huge fleet and it's pretty much impossible to avoid travelling on one at some stage of your Bangladesh trip. And why would you want to avoid it? They're cheap, fun, environmentally friendly and are often the quickest way to get through the busy streets.

Fast facts

National animal: Royal Bengal Tiger
National fruit: jackfruit
National sport: kabaddi

Before you go

Reading: The Good Muslim, by Tahmima Anam
Watching: The Clay Bird, by Tareque Masud
Listening to: live streaming of Radio Dhaka, to get you into the mood


Shared from Lonely Planet

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Looking Closer at the Home of the Tigers

Tarek Musanna


Dhaka Dynamites
Shakib Al Hasan – Magura
World’s best ODI all-rounder and the second best at the moment in test and T20 ranking, Shakib All Hasan might be playing for Dhaka Dynamites, but he is originally from Khulna division. Shakib comes from Magura district, which is in the south western side of Bangladesh. It’s a five hours journey by bus from Dhaka. There is no train available for this route. You can visit ‘Nil Kuthi,’ built during the British rule in Magura. There is also the fort of Debal Raja and the Royal Palace of King Sitaram. This is one of the few places where you can see traditional boat racing or ‘Nouka Baich’ as the locals call it in Bangladesh.


Rangpur Riders
Soumya Sarkar – Satkhira
Soumya Sarkar might be playing for Rangpur Riders, the team in the north, but he is from the south western district of Satkhira, part of Khulna Division. It lies along the border with West Bengal, India. The major point of interest here is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world, Sundarbans. This district is also home to many ancient buildings and temples. The Sultanpur Shahi Mosque is more than 500 years old. Other things Satkhira is famous for are plenty of fisheries and shrimp firms, and sweets named ‘Sondesh’ and ‘Pera Sondesh.’


Khulna Titans
Mahmudullah Riyad – Mymensingh
After the previous two players, ironically, our pick of the player for Khulna Titans isn’t really from Khulna. Mahmudullah Riyad is from Mymensingh district, the central region of Bangladesh. Situated on the Brahmaputra river, Mymensingh is known for educational institutes like Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh Ananda Mohan College, etc. This place has acted as the center of secularism as both Muslims & Hindus live together in harmony. Mymensingh is home to the world-famous painter Zainul Abedin’s Art Gallery. If you’re ever visiting this place, make sure you take a boat ride on the river Brahmaputra. The sun setting over the river is a scene of beauty and serenity.

Barishal Bulls
Mushfiqur Rahim – Bogra
Mushfiqur Rahim is from a part of Bangladesh that is particularly rich with history. Bogra is a northern district in Rajshahi division. The story of this place dates back to more than two thousand years. If you’re visiting Bogra, make sure you visit the ancient ruins of Mahasthangarh; the ancient capital of Pundravardhana, Adam Dighi, and Baba Adam Mazar. It is also the home of a very special dessert called ‘Doi.’ The people of Bogra speak in a very distinct dialect of Bengali.


Chittagong Vikings
Tamim Iqbal – Chittagong
When it comes to dialects, nothing can beat the one used by the people of Chittagong. Fun fact about that dialect, it has more native speakers than Greek. Finally in this list, our pick of the player from a franchise is actually from that region. Tamim Iqbal is straight from the heart of Chittagong. Right by the Bay of Bengal, it’s the second largest city in Bangladesh. There are so many things to see in Chittagong. This port city has amazing views of both the sea and the hills. Chittagong is a magical place where various kinds of terrain meet to create a beautiful sight. Patenga beach, Kaptai lake, Karnafuli river, Bhatiari, Foy’s lake are few places to name.

Rajshahi Kings
Sabbir Rahman – Rajshahi
The clean striker of the ball, Sabbir Rahman is from the cleanest city of Bangladesh, Rajshahi. Rajshahi is located on the north bank of Padma river. This prominent commercial hub is a historic center of silk production, thus nick named ‘Silk City.’ The most beautiful sight in Rajshahi is at the banks of Padma. During the monsoon season, its beauty multiplies with the rise in water level. Other points of interest are the Varendra Research Museum, the oldest museum in the country; and the Shrine of Hazrat Shah Makhdum (Rh.).

Comilla Victorians
Mashrafe Mortaza – Narail
The Narail Express, Mashrafe Mortaza is probably one of the biggest things Narail district can brag about.  Narail, a part of Khulna division, is a district in the south western region. Narail has one of the two ‘Victoria Colleges’ in the country, other one obviously being in Comilla. Narail was ruled a long time by feudal lords and it shows. It’s home to some of the biggest landlord mansions in the country. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Sarine Arslanian


Bangladesh is a country with abundant nature, from beaches to forests and waterfalls, coupled with rich culture and history. While taking a trip through its beauty, don’t miss a visit to these 10 charming towns.


Cox’s Bazar


Located in Chittagong Division, Cox’s Bazar, sometimes referred to as Panowa, is a beautiful seaside town with the longest unbroken sandy beach not just in the country, but in the world. The 75 miles of stunning beach is the main reason that Cox’s Bazar is one of the most famous tourist hot spots in Bangladesh. But there is more to this beautiful fishing town. Aggmeda Khyang is a magnificent Buddhist monastery that tourists can visit. Beautiful local handicrafts and homemade cigars are also a specialty to look out for here from local sellers.


Sonargaon | © Nasir Khan Saikat/WikiCommons

Sonargaon


Located relatively close to the current capital city, about 18 miles away, Sonargaon is a former capital of Bangladesh. Different dynastic rulers have contributed to making it a fascinating city, its rich history is reflected in Sonargaon’s historical architecture and culture. Sonargaon is also home to stunning gardens, a great folk arts and crafts museum and the royal palace and is well worth an afternoon’s strolling.


Bogra | © Khan Tanvir/WikiCommons

Bogra


Located in Rajshahi Division, Bogra is one of the oldest and most fascinating towns in Bangladesh. Its many popular attractions bring both foreign and domestic visitors here in ever-increasing numbers. The most interesting place to visit is the ancient archaeological site which dates back to the 3rd century, and is known under the name of Mahasthangarh. The remaining sites are mainly Buddhist, however there are some Hindu and Muslim ones too. Bogra also has a stunning temple and palace to visit too.


Dhaka | © Ellywa/WikiCommons

Dhaka


A visit to Bangladesh would not be complete without a visit to the cultural, economic, and academic hub of the country: Dhaka, the capital city. It is the center of almost everything going on in Bangladesh, and city’s must-visits include the national memorial, the parliament house, the Pink palace, the Lalbag fort, the Balgha gardens, the Hatir Jheel lake and the Maynamati ruins.




Mymensingh | © SuSanA Secretariat/Flickr

Mymensingh


Mymensingh is a stunning city with 200 years of political history and culture. Located by the beautiful Brahmaputa river, Mymensingh offers a range of cultural, historical and natural sites of interest, and some great picnic spots too. Visitors can stroll around the Orchid or Strawberry gardens, head to the adventure park in Gajani, visit historic Jalchhatra oe enjoy a boat ride on the river. The city is also where the renowned handcrafted Nakshikantha, a Bengali quiet, is made.




Sylhet | © Faisal Akram/WikiCommons

Sylhet


Sylhet is located along the banks of the Surma River. As one of the most affluent and easily accessible places in Bangladesh, Sylhet attracts a constant flow of visitors coming to enjoy the city’s beautiful natural landscapes including hills, rivers, lakes, tea gardens, rain forest and waterfalls, that surround its pleasant urban areas.

Khulna


Khulna is the third-largest city in Bangladesh, located close to Chittagong and Dhaka and providing access to the renowned Sundarbans; the biggest mangrove forest in the world; the home of the beautiful Royal Bengal Tiger. Khulna also has one of the oldest ports of the country which travelers can also visit.




Puthia Mandirs, Rajshahi Division | © Paurag/WikiCommons

Rajshahi


Rajshahi is now more of an education and tourism hub, but back in the day, it used to be an important center for silk production, sold all around the world. Visitors still come to Rajshahi, to head to the many state bazaars to buy beautiful silk fabrics today. Rajshahi’s climate is also perfect for growing certain types of fruits, meaning that visitors can indulge in fragrant mangoes and lychees while they are traveling around the city.


Paharpur


Paharpur is a small village, close to the Jamalganj train station, where the remains of an important Buddhist monastery has been excavated. Dating back to the 8th century, this ancient monastery called Somapura Mahavihara spans 27 acres of land and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An on-site museum also displays a collection of objects to give visitors a better picture of what life was like in the early days.




Bandarban | © Aditya Kabir/WikiCommons

Bandarban


Bandarban is one of the prettiest places in the whole of Bangladesh and is easily accessible from any big city. The lake and waterfall next to it give it a real feeling of serenity. In addition to these stunning natural landscapes, there are numerous Buddhist temples around town. The most important of these is the Buddha Dhatu Jadi, where you’ll find the second biggest Buddha statue in the country.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Digging Deeper

Mehnaz Rahman


Bengal lands of ancient Hindustan, now Bangladesh, has been ruled by quite a few kings. Where there are kings, there are stories of rules, riches, bravery and generosity.

Puru the brave

Alexander was the king of Macedon, who conquered Greece and Persia. He defeated Puru, a king of Northern India, in the battle of Jhelum. The camp of Alexander was on the banks of the Jhelum. Onefine day,he was having a talk with his four generals on the Hindustani war policy, on elephants and on Puru himself.

Alexander: Oh! He is a brave man and a great soldier. I wish he were one of my generals.
Second General: He is a proud man, Your Majesty.
Alexander: A soldier is not a soldier if he is not proud. He was not frightened by my victories and refused to bow before me.
Soldier: Sir, Puru has been brought to the camp.

Puru enters with four Greek soldiers following him, and Alexander and the generals stand up to greet him. Puru joins the palms of his hands and raises them to his forehead to return the greeting.

Alexander: Well, how are you, Porus?
Puru: My name is Puru.
Alexander: Don’t you realize that you are my prisoner?
Puru: I do, but I’m still the lawful king of my country.
Alexander: How shall I treat you?
Puru: As a king should treat another king.
Alexander: Puru the brave, will you be a friend to me?
Puru: On one condition.
Alexander: What is that?
Puru: My kingdom should remain independent and you should treat me as your equal.
Alexander: Agreed, my brother.
Puru: I’ll do my best to be worthy of the friendship of Alexander the Great.

Alexander, with his undefeated army and arsenal, conquered most of the world including Central Asia (Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan). This refers to the Roman and Greek ancestry of this region. The already existing civilization there was the Indus Valley civilization, and all of it occurred before Christ. The advancement of civilization in Bengal dates back to four millennia. Bengal’s early history featured the consequent rise and tussle of Hinduism and Buddhism for dominance.

The Maurya Empire 

Chandragupta Maurya (324 BC – 300 BC) was the first king of the Indian subcontinent. Alliance with Seleucus, a general for Alexander The Great, was very crucial to him. Exchanging ambassadors and gifting presents eventually proved that they established a harmonic relation.
The Greek population remained in the northwest part of Indian subcontinent under King Ashoka’s rule. As a result, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism have widely spread.

The Golden Empire 

The Gupta Empire (320 AD – 550 AD) was the most glorious age of Bengal in every sense. Bengal had a strong trade link with Persia, Arabia and China that focused on its lucrative muslin textiles. “Navaratna” poets and the “Ajanta Elora” cave are two prominent legacies of the culturally creative Gupta dynasty.
The decline of the Gupta empire gave rise to King Harshavardhana (590 AD – 647 AD). His kingship hosted a Chinese wanderer, Hue-En-Sang, who mentioned Bengali Professor Shilbhadra of Nalanda University in his book.

The tale of Emperors so far suggests that the Greek, Roman, Persian, Arabian and Chinese have visited Hindustan as well as Bengal.

The Muslim Monarchy

Islam was introduced to the Indian people by Arabian traders in the seventh century. Though the dramatic shift of dominance was achieved by an Afghan emir, Sultan Mahmud (aka Mahmud of Ghazni). His brother, Muhamad Ghori, defeated King Prithviraj and laid the foundation of Muslim rule that lasted for several centuries. Another Afghan Muslim General, Muhammad Bin Bakhtiyar Khilji, monopolized Lakshmanaboti from Lakshman Sen which was then the capital of Bengal.

The diamond bigger than almonds

There was a time when Bengal had more diamonds than it had almonds. Ashrafis, the royal name of gold coins, of which you may have read in Arabian Nights, belongs as much to our ancestry as it does to the Arabs. Among all the stones, there was one named “Kohinur.” The “Kohinur” was brought to Bengal by Alauddin Khilji for Rani Padmabhati.

The Mughal Sultanate 

The Mughal rule in Bengal started with Badshah Babur. Babur was a direct descendant of Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur through his father and of Genghis Khan through his mother. He influenced the expansion of Persianate ethos in Hindusthan which eventually overshadowed central Asian spirit of culture. Babur’s army was diverse in ethnicity and he was blessed to have the support of Afghans, Arabs, Iranians and Turkic people.

Humayun, Babur’s eldest son and heir, was a brave man of capricious nature. Sher Shah Suri, an ethnic Pashtun, took advantage of it to seize control of Delhi from Mughals. He sent him an ancient book of magic written in Sangskrit, and a golden statue of Bhishnu. Sher Shah succeeded to interrupt the Mughal monarchy. The Bhishnu from Bengal belongs to the Emperor Vikramaditya from Golden age.

Europian Colony

Vasco da Gama was a Portuguese explorer and the first European to reach Hindusthan. His voyage towards Asia introduced the West and the Orient by an oceanic route. He established one of his tents at Hoogli, West Bengal.

The Portuguese in Bangladesh were known as “Firingi,” and colonized the city of Chittagong. “Firingi Bazar,” near the bank of Karnaphuli River, is one of the relics that survived. Surprisingly, the first grammar book and dictionary of Bangla language was actually written by them. The Portuguese studied Sangskrit and Bangla, and tried to preach Christianity.
Eventually other European traders, mainly the Danish, the Dutch, the British and the French arrived and colonized Bengal.

The subcontinental blood has the essence of war and weapons in it. The new Bangladesh has gained a reputation of hospitality among enthusiast travelers. This attribute may have a thing to do with its diverse ancestry.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Be a Wanderlust this Winter

Farhat Chowdhury (Zishan)


Winter is considered to be the best season to travel. The weather is wonderful; the lands are dry and there’s no awkward sweatiness. Plus, if you are a student, you can travel with a stress-free mind since you are already done with your exams. There are many famous tourist destinations scattered all across Bangladesh that are guaranteed to offer you a wonderful time. But some of them unveil their true beauties during this season. So, check them out:

Sylhet – Sylhet has a lot to offer during winter. Although it is freezing-cold out there then, if you are hell-bent on seeing a beautiful place, The Land of Mystiques should be on top of your bucket list.
The City itself offers you certain historical landmarks to visit. Located in the heart of the city is the Museum of Dewan Hasan Raja, the great Mystic poet whose songs are still sung by people all across Sylhet. And apart from that, do not miss the chance of visiting the shrines of Hajrat Shah Jalal and Hajrat Shah Paran, the two renowned Sufis of Sylhet. Get enchanted by the giant congregation of their followers and their devotion towards the pious saints. 
The real beauty of Sylhet awaits outside the city. A 60-km journey from the city will lead you to Jaflong – where you can see the distant Indian mountains. A very popular spot there is the Bangladesh- India border. You can even see the Meghalayan state from Jaflong – their traditional houses, cars travelling down the narrow mountain roads and so on. On your way back to the city, make sure you take a look at the Khashia King’s palace. On the note of tribal cultures, a mere 5 kilometers away from Jaflong is Jaintapur itself. This was the capital of the Jainta kingdom during the 18th century and right across the local market is the remains of some archaeological sites.
This place is renowned for tea and you absolutely wouldn’t want to miss the chance of having a steaming cup in the morning. To make things much more interesting, Sri Mongol offers you seven layers of tea in one single cup. Spell-bounding, isn’t it?
 This is just the prologue. Starting from Ratargul swamp forest to LalaKhaal, Sylhet has numerous places to make your vacation memorable.

Cox’s Bazar –The weather in the world’s longest sea beach is moderately cold in winter; perfect for you to stroll on the seashore or lie all day for a sunbath. The sun shines in all its glory during midday but the most pleasant time would be during the evening. 
Explore the Burmese shops, have hot freshly fried fish on a soothingly cold winter night. There are even open-air restaurants right beside the seashore, so you can listen to the wonderful sound of waves crashing while having fresh lobsters, crabs and countless other sea-fishes under the moonlight. Plus, if you’re planning to visit during the last week of December, do not forget to attend the big concerts taking place at the beach. Groove the night away with the biggest rock bands and singers on stage as they celebrate the New Year at this magnificent sea beach.

The Sundarbans–Do not miss the chance to visit the world’s largest mangrove forest this winter. Officially declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Sundarbans is a few hours ship-ride from the city of Khulna. Your journey in the Sundarbans will start at Hiron Point, from where you can spot deer, crocodiles and even Royal Bengal tigers if you’re lucky enough. 
The entire mangrove forest has several distinct locations; Kaikhali, Buridabri watch tower is a place from where you can view the animals, hear the birds’ chirping and witness the true beauty of it all. There are several deals available for tourists which will make this a fantastic experience.

Rangamati – This wonderful little town has some great destinations for you to explore during your holiday. Hire an auto-rickshaw from Rangamati to go and visit Kaptai Lake. This man-made lake will also lead you to the iconic 335 feet long Hanging Bridge.
This magical green land has many other places to offer. Starting from the Kaptai National Park to Shuvolong falls, Rangamati can be your go-to destination this winter.
If you are looking for something much more adventurous, you can definitely visit the 1800 ft. high Sajek and Marissa valley. Get enthralled by natural beauty and ethnic culture.


Lastly, while it is a great idea to embark upon the journey to all these wonderful places, it is important to make sure you take warm clothes along with you and also avoid foggy nights for bus journeys. Advisably, pre-book your hotel rooms or at least contact some locals there for all sorts of assistance. Hurry up, in this season awaits adventure!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Puja in Bangladesh: A Celebration of Arts and Culture

Fatema Nashrah


What makes Bangladesh beautiful? What binds its people together? What makes them part of a larger community which divided by differences? Perhaps the answer lies in a Bangladeshi’s inherent love for festivities and celebrations. Every year is marked with numerous festivals, each of which is celebrated with grandeur and merriment. The religious harmony of the nation is reflected in such festivals as people of all religions take delight in them. A particularly glaring example is the Puja celebrations of the Hindus.

Durga Puja is one such momentous occasion of the Hindu community that has transcended to socio-cultural significance for the larger Bengali community. Celebrating the victory of Goddess Durga over a demon Mahisasur, it epitomizes the power of good over evil. Shiva, Lakhsmi, Saraswati and Ganesha are some of the other deities worshipped during the puja.  It is a popular belief that the transportation of arrival and departure of the Goddess Durga determines the fate of the people for the upcoming year. The ritual consists of ten days of fast, feast and worship. However, the last five days as named Shashthi, Shaptami, Ashtami, Navami, Bijoya and Dashami are celebrated with the most anticipation. The long procession ends finally with the immersion of the sculpture of the deity in the water.

Over the ages, how the occasion is commemorated has evolved. However, the festival was not truly integrated into the Hindu culture till the 16th century. Until then, Durga Puja was observed in the quiet confinement of personal residences. Gradually, it began to gain prominence among the aristocrats of Bengal. Lavish feasts, month-long exultation and the elaborate rituals included the commoners too and the festival rose to become Sharbojanin (all-inclusive). People from all spheres of life were united in their celebrations and economic divides were disregarded in worship and community.

Pujas in our subcontinent have always been celebrated grandly. The art, music, food and the pandals add to the inescapable ambience of the auspicious festival. The pandals are, of course, the primary attraction of the festivities in all their glory. Local artisans spend long hours toiling over the regal idols, perfecting the sacred images. The process of creating these sculptures are themselves steeped in rites and rituals, from collecting holy clay to fasting before painting on the eyes. Amidst ornate edifices is a stage upon which the idol of Durga stands, mounted on a lion, wielding ten weapons in all ten of her hands- a stately vision. The masses gather around it to offer pushpanjali (flower worship) on mornings.

Puja celebrations in Bangladesh are celebrated with growing enthusiasm and gusto every year. Organizing requires months of prior planning. From open fields to narrow alleyways, thousands of pandals are erected, transforming the landscape into a religious centre. For the more popular pandals, preparation begins immediately after the previous puja celebrations with sky high budgets. Corporate sponsorship has been spurring on the festivities to reach greater heights of extravagancy and innovation. Theme based pandals are now part of the tradition of Durga puja, drawing in throngs of visitors. Past years have seen Harry Potter, ancient Greek mythology, Mayan and Egyptian civilization themed pandals. An underwater themed pandal in Chittagong with Durga perched on a stage resembling a coral reef garnered much attention and praise from visitors. Besides, pandals in Dhakeshwari National Temple, Shankhari Bazaar, Ramkrishna Mission, Jagannath Hall, Gulshan Banani Sharbojanin Puja Porishad in Dhaka are some of the most visually striking ones.

Durga Puja in Bangladesh celebrates art, artistry and our rich culture. The beat of the dhak, smell of burning incense, ritualistic dance worship or the aarati and the delicious bhog are embedded in our country’s heritage. People from all backgrounds, along with Hindus, revel in the spiritual and visual experience the festival proves to be. Buzzing energy and colorful vibes take over the streets in the duration. Every year, the celebrations are getting grander. At the end of the festivities, the statues of Durga are submerged in the rivers, a symbolic gesture of her farewell to unite with her husband in the Himalayas. Her departure is accompanied with loud chants of Ashche Bochhor Abar Hobe (It will happen again next year).

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

China President Xi Jinping given statement about Bangladesh



“China-Bangladesh Cooperation Will Bear Golden Fruits”


PRESIDENT Xi JINPING’S SPECIAL ARTICLE GIVEN TO THE DAILY STAR

 Date: 14.10.2016

        H.E. XI JINPING  
Presidentof the People's Republic of China

“At the kind invitation of President Abdul Hamid,       I will pay a state visit to the beautiful country of Bangladesh in this golden harvest season of autumn…

Bangladesh is a fascinating and promising land. It is where the Padma, Jamuna and Meghna rivers flow into the sea. It’s vast expanse of fertile fields which normally have the color of emerald green become a sea of golden yellow at the time of harvest. Endowed with rich natural resources, this land is home to a hard-working and talented nation and a time-honored and splendid culture. In fact, famous poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote many of his most notable works in Bengali.

Bangladesh is a land filled with hope. Since its independence, Bangladesh has come a long way. With strenuous efforts, it has started from scratch and successfully met the livelihood needs of its 160 million population, contributing significantly to global poverty reduction. In recent years, by seizing the opportunities of economic globalization and focusing on reform and development, Bangladesh has kept its economy growing at above 6% and made steady progress in industrialization and urbanization. Bangladesh is well on track to achieve Vision 2021 and become a middle-income country.

The people of China and Bangladesh have been good neighbors and friends since ancient times. Stories of our friendship and exchange witnessed by the Southern Silk Road and the Maritime Silk Road throughout the millennia are still being told today. Eminent Chinese monks Faxian and Xuanzang travelled west for Buddhist scriptures. Ati┼Ťa Dipankara Shrijnana, a Bengali religious master, spread Buddhism in China. They were the pioneers of our cultural exchange.
 
Famous navigator Zheng He of the Ming Dynasty visited Bengal twice. According to his description, “This is a richly endowed and teeming land with lovely people and fertile fields.” Believed by the Chinese then to be a qilin (an auspicious mythical animal), the giraffe that the Bengali king gave to the Ming emperor brought much excitement to the court and general public in China.”





Shared from Dhaka Tribune.
Link: http://www.thedailystar.net/frontpage/china-bangladesh-cooperation-will-bear-golden-fruits-1298536


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Travelling 101: The kind of travel partner you need


Nusrat Noshin



Your expectations = their Expectations If you want to take a trip, travel with someone who has similar interests and...



Your expectations = their Expectations


If you want to take a trip, travel with someone who has similar interests and mindset as you do, because you don’t want the trip to turn into a source of constant tension. Frankly, it’s no fun. A perfect vacation with a friend is very simple; you plan together, you party together. Most importantly, make sure you both have similar expectations and interests from the expedition. That way, you will have a companion in almost every part of the trip. If you want to gape at the Great Canyon and be awed by it, try finding someone who wishes the same.


The pro bono entertainer


I believe that people who can turn a frown upside down are hidden gems that everybody needs during a trip. Flight got delayed? Missed your cab? Poor weather hits during the tour? Yes, they all sound tragic, but it would be worse if you have a mate who incessantly complains about the downsides of your trip. At times like these a giggling feat is all you need to make the sun shines even in the dullest rainfall; a lip-curling fuss just will not do. Understanding the compromises and behaving accordingly while retaining a smile is one of the best traits a travel companion can have.

The partner who values money


Planning with your partner and deciding how much you both are willing to spend is a good idea, pre-vacation. In addition, both of you should have similar generosity when spending; it is a lot more fun when you do not have to count every dime to split the bill equally. However, it is also a bummer when your companion does not pay their share of expenses, or drags you into overpriced shopping. You may also feel awkward if he/she does not want to spend as much as you do. Talk it through and make sure you both are on the same page, so that you can enjoy the trip without any financial bumps.


The curious explorer


Traveling is all about making memories worth cherishing and experiencing new things. Hence, you will want someone who likes exploring, or has enthusiasm towards everything. Taking pleasure in every small moment is contagious and it helps you get some relief from your normal life.

When flexibility is key


Try finding a companion who is flexible and willing to change in order to gain the fullest experience out of the expedition. If you go with someone who sticks to his/her own ways, it will heavily influence the authenticity of the trip. Compromise is key, starting from palette, to attire, behavior and even habits.













To cling or not to cling, that is the question


You may want the perfect travel partner, but you really do not want someone who’ll be attached to you, hip-to-hip, throughout the entire trip. Vacations also involve finding a sanctuary. A clingy friend will not help you achieve. Hence you need a partner who understands the concept of “alone time”. Sometimes finding peace may simply mean to behold the beauty of a tourist site or to reflect on an eventful day right before going to bed at night. Whatever it is, a good companion will know when to be quiet and to give you space; knowing when to be silent makes everything better, period.


Motivator and memory maker


When on a trip, the best moments occur during the most spontaneous moments of the trip. To clarify my point, I am not leaning on any illegal or very dangerous activities! Vacations are all about saying “yes”. You make the best memories from the most impromptu plans; the ultimate fun happens when you do something that is unprecedented to you. It gives you something intriguing to talk about when you return home. Sometimes all you need is approval from just one person when you are in doubt and your companion should be there next to you, ready to give sanction. Moreover, he/she should also encourage you to do things that you normally would not do.

Life saving skills


It may sound like a buzz-kill, but accidents happen. Emergencies may arise and they are inevitable sometimes. An ideal friend could, if they had to, talk to the police, or know how to do a mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, or even relay your medical history. Whatever it is, a sincere and useful partner like this is indispensable whether on vacation or in regular life.


Social butterfly


One of the main purpose of any trip is to meet new people, especially the locals. If your companion does not have the ability to blend in with newly met people, or shows any sort of repulsive behavior, chances are those people will be unwilling to interact with you too. It is compulsory for your comrade to uphold an affable attitude and an outgoing personality.


Cultural sensitivity


You will most likely come across some culture which will seem alien to you while travelling and in cases like these, it is extra important for you and your companion to be respectful to foreign traditions. A friend who ridicules or criticizes the hosting culture will probably not be well received. Travelling with someone who takes interest in the local custom has its own perks. You will not only have a good time, you will be also treated hospitably and you can even get the opportunity to learn a great deal about a foreign culture and/or language. For instance, if you meet an Indian host, greet them with the famous “Namaste”.


Being street smart


Do you want to wander helplessly on your first ever trip to, for instance, an exotic island? Surely, no one would like that. However, you may encounter this misfortune if neither you, nor your mate have a good sense of direction. A great navigator, with good map reading skills is a crucial trait for a smooth trip. When wandering the streets of an unfamiliar city, “street smart” is the way to go.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Cox’s Bazar ready to welcome tourists

Abdul Aziz


The local law enforcement agencies have stepped up security measures to ensure the tourists' safety


The picturesque district of Cox’s Bazar, sitting in the backdrop of lush hills in the south-eastern part of Bangladesh, boasts everything — from the world’s longest sea beach to tropical weather – that makes it a holidaymaker’s paradise.

Local tourism businesses in the district have taken all preparation to ensure hassle-free vacation for people visiting the area in the Eid season.

A long Eid vacation and favourable weather means thousands of local tourists will throng the area to bask in the sun at sea beaches, explore the famed Saint Martin’s Island, the rocky Inani beach, Ramu’s Buddhist pagodas, Maheshkhali’s Adinath temple, Dulahazra’s Bangabandhu Safari Park, and the Himchhari waterfall, among others.

The local law enforcement agencies have stepped up security measures to ensure the tourists’ safety. The Tourist Police, who have garnered praise for their activities, have launched a mobile application to allow people to contact them in case of emergency.

But the recent spate of militant attacks on minorities, secular writers, rights activists and foreigners have somewhat dented Bangladesh’s image in the global arena. It has been two months since the country had its worst terror attack when terrorists killed 22 people, mostly foreigners, at an upmarket Dhaka cafe on July 1.

The recent attacks seem to have had little impact on foreign tourists.





Tourists at the Kalatali beach

Long Beach Hotel’s head of operations Mohammed Tarek said 80% rooms in his hotel had already been booked. “We got huge response from foreign and local tourists alike.”

Businesses dependent on tourism have gone through colourful renovations to attract tourists.





Beach lounge chairs have been revamped for the tourist rush

Most of the hotel and motel owners have brought in new furniture while the restaurants have undergone makeovers. Old plastic lounge chairs rented out on the beaches have also been painted with different colours to make them appear more attractive.

Popular tourist spots were fully prepared to welcome the tourists, Kitkot Business Association President Mahbubur Rahman said.

“Every year, tourists usually come here to enjoy their Eid vacation but this time we got huge advance booking,” Vista Bay Resort Manager Kalim Ullah said. “It is a good sign. We have tried our best to attract more and more tourists.”

Tourism business suffered massive loss several years ago when political instability rocked the country.





The Burmese Market in Cox’s Bazar, a popular tourist destination

Hotel Sea Gull’s Assistant Manager Nurul Alam says he hopes to recover some of the losses this season.

With people expected to flock the area in thousands, the district’s Tourist Police have taken all out measures to ensure their safety.

“Laboni, Sugandha, Kolatoli, Kabita Chattar, Shahin Chattar, Daria Nagar, Inani beach points will remain under strict surveillance,” Cox’s Bazar Tourist Police Additional Superintendent Khandker Fazle Rabbi said.

Leaves of Tourist Police have been cancelled.

Fazle Rabbi said the district police would assist to ensure strict surveillance.

Cox’s Bazar Development Authority Chairman Lt Col (retd) Forkan Ahmed said: “Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina instructed to decorate Cox’s Bazar in new way to ensure development tourism industry here. I expect cooperation from everyone to implement her order.”

An increase in the number of tourists is good news for business and the country’s economy that’s heavily dependent on remittance. But the high number also means that Bangladesh will have to be prepared to tackle the impact tourists will have on the marine environment and make plans to clean the popular spots that will likely be littered with garbage.



Shared from: http://www.dhakatribune.com/feature/travel/2016/09/12/coxs-bazar-ready-welcome-tourists/