Saturday, August 5, 2017

For Hungry Travelers: Bangladesh offers a roller coaster ride of Varieties of Tastes

SHATEEL BIN SALAH



For hundreds of years, food for the people of the greater region called ‘Bengal’ has worked as a medium of finding solace. ‘Reaching someone’s heart through his stomach’- the popular adage is absolutely true for these people, who love to entertain their guests with the best to offer, even if it means leaving nothing for themselves. Women who engage themselves in cooking as many courses as possible depending on the financial condition, put their heart into each dish. The cooking processes are time consuming and to some extent may seem complicated to expatriates who are habituated to having packed or canned pre-processed food. Making pastes of onion, garlic or ginger on a traditional grinding stone called ‘Shil-nora’, each one separately or sometimes even together, (a tradition found in Faridpur region, the paste is called furani bata) is a tedious job but adds distinct flavors in cooking. Nonetheless, what’s much more amusing is the aroma that spreads from the kitchen is sure to make your mouth water. In Charyapada, the ancient book of Buddhist mystic songs, there are mentions about the staggering arrangements of cooking special dishes on special days; there are even rhymes, which used to be memorized by the cook to keep track of time while something is boiling or cooking. For those people, perfect was the mantra to live by as food is something that should give their tastebuds a joyous roller coaster ride.In fine, all the love, the attention and probably the midas touch of their experienced hands of the womenfolk makes the meals so magical.



Beef with spinach curry

The deltaic region is enriched with alluvial soil and henceforth, rice, which is grown in abundance, is the staple food. Approximately 127 variety of rice are grown here. Every breed of rice has a unique use of its own. One breed of rice is used to make lavish ‘Biriyani’ while the other breed of rice is puffed to make ‘Muri’. However, the most popular form among Bangladeshis is the plain white rice or ‘Shada bhaat’ as we like to call it. A plate of freshly cooked steaming hot rice along with spicy & sumptuous supplementary dishes is one kind of a necessity for any Bangladeshi during lunch and dinner. That lethargic feeling attained as the aftermath of a regular tiresome work day is washed away when one returns home to find the sweltering steam of rice dangling in the air mingled with the aroma coming from a bowl containing chilly fish curry made out of seasonal spices. To glorify moments such as this, the term ‘Maachh-Bhaate Bangali’ was coined. However, only fish and rice cannot define the food habit of Bangladeshis. Food here is not about heavily seasoned greasy curries either. It is not about a vast array of sugar loaded dairy-based desserts or allegedly overcooked vegetables. These perceptions about Bangladeshi Cuisine that seem to prevail among the transient travelers are mostly based on their experiences in busy local eateries, where the true taste and essence of this deltaic cuisine is significantly compromised to accommodate higher profit margins. In addition, established mainly to cater to fleeting businessmen and office executives on the go, many restaurants usually do a terrible job of combining all the recipes from across the country under their roofs. Dining out was never the part of middle class Bangladeshi culture until very recently, which too is mostly for them to experience non-Bangladeshi cuisines for a change. Therefore, till date the best samples of Bangladeshi culinary delights are being served in Bangladeshi homes, and are shared together by all the members of the family.



Bhetki Paturi

In the villages, breakfast on a regular day would be either Panta Bhaat (Rice soaked in water overnight) served with green pepper, onion etc. or Folar (a combination of flat rice, jaggery, sweet curd, fruits and other form of dairy sweets). On special occasions, a vast variety of rice cakes (Pitha) is served which can be both sweet and savory. Luchi(finely rolled deep fried fluffy bread) with Shuji’r Halwa (Semolina Kesari) are widely popular in both rural and urban areas . The dairy shops would also have piping hot Shingaras (deep fried pastry wraps stuffed with vegetables and nuts). In the cities, Panta bhaat is replaced by wheat roti which is enjoyed with daal, stir fried vegetables (Bhaaji), eggs or curries. Paratha, Bhaji and Egg is also a classic combo in restaurants across the country. On the heavier side of the breakfast, there is Ox Brain Bhuna, Ox Liver Bhuna, Lotpoti (spicy curry of chicken liver, heart, gizzards, head and neck), and Chicken Soup (local chicken pieces cooked with yogurt, milk and green chili).



Brain Bhuna

Each region in Bangladesh has their unique ways of honoring their fresh local produce as the abundance of each ingredient varies largely with respect to season and geography. Food preparation does not only vary across regions, they also vary in the same region depending on occasions, festivals or the time of the day. Nevertheless, the unique feature of Bangladeshi cuisine lies in the custom in which the food is enjoyed; which once mastered, can unearth all the hidden flavors of the fresh ingredients for the lucky diner. The rules might not be as ceremonial as that of Japanese Way of Tea, but the art of using hands to mix rice with vegetables, protein dishes and broths is no simpler than that of using chopsticks. The only difference is using hands in this case is much more critical to the enjoyment of the diner than chopsticks. Apart from mastering the art of using hands to enjoy meals, a seasoned Bangladeshi diner would also know from where to start and where to end just by looking at the dishes displayed before him.



Lal Atar Roti

Traditionally, the meal starts either with deep fried small fish like Chapila, Puti etc., pan-fried Pointed Gourd, Bitter Gourd, Teasel Gourd, Okra, Pumpkin etc., leafy vegetables like spinach, radish leaves, bottle gourd vines, red amaranth or from one of the hundred varieties of Bhorta (seasoned and mashed vegetables, seeds, or fish). Once blended with rice using fingers, each of the combination teases your tastebuds making up for a great appetizer/starter. Now on a dinner table in a Bangladeshi household, expect to have more than one main course, which is either a fish or a meat curry. The main courses are usually followed by a finishing course like Daal made from a variety of pulses or a Khatai/Ombol (an acidic variety of broth made with a combination of tangy fruits) to neutralize the heat from the flavorsome courses.



Pabda Curry

No essay is complete without discussing the love of sweets among Bangladeshi people. Dessert, which is a must after all meals on special occasions are always diary based. Popularly known as ‘mishti’, sweetmeats of Bengals are better than anywhere else in the world. What sets them apart is the process of making them; unlike many other places, we make sweetmeats with Chhena, the unripened curd cheese from bovine milk.The moist and crumbly form of cheese is a special ingredient that is still used to make the famous roshogolla, a bite of which will flood your tongue with sugary syrup that in the beginning may seem a bit too much for your tastebuds; but soon you will be surprised that you will automatically take the second, third and fourth bite to finish it all. Different cities of the country have different and signature sweetmeats of their own and all of them are immensely loved by all. Chomchom, Kachagolla, Laddu, Shondesh, Balish Mishty, Komola bhog, Lencha are some of the very unique sweetmeats from different regions of Bangladesh. Taking sweetmeats is a gesture of showing felicitation here; festivals and celebrations are never complete without them, be it a village or the most modern urban set up.



Pakon Pitha

As Bangladeshis are always welcoming anything new and worthy, all of Dhaka city is now mushroomed with restaurants and eateries serving a plethora of items. What’s interesting about these restaurants are in many cases, they blend in local cooking techniques while preparing a Thai, Lebanese or Mexican dish and the final product becomes a thought provoking hybrid for our gourmands. Nevertheless, if you are really keen on enjoying the authentic Bangladeshi fine dining experience, Paturi Bangladesh has opened its doors to food aficionados from both home and abroad. With so many westernized eateries popping up all over Dhaka, it’s about time someone brought back the essence of our local cuisine to remind us of the origins of our tastes.

Shared from ICE Today

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Top Stunning Places In Bangladesh You Don't Want To Miss

Ruth Christina Roy


Life can bring us closer to the mystery of nature, and in Bangladesh, it has deeper meaning altogether. In the southern part of Asia, Bangladesh lies with its natural elegance on the Bay of Bengal. The beautiful country, affectionately called ‘The Land of Rivers’ due to its vast number of waterways, is unique in beauty. Its captivating beauty, festive and colorful life of the nation will simply blow you away.
Cox’s Bazar

Cox’s Bazar, the jewel of Bangladesh, is famous for its 120 km long sea beach, which has been declared the longest sea beach in the world. It is an otherworldly experience to enjoy a walk down to the beach, listening to the rumbles of the sea, while experiencing the charming sunrise or crimson sunset. Its unique feature is the blend of the sea and hills which provide a magnificent landscape. Exploring the beach in the glittering moonlight creates a different vibe and heavenly feeling altogether. The vastness of the sea and the quiet hills have the true allure of nature.

The Sundarbans

In the world’s largest mangrove forest, find your true brave spirit. The forest lies in the vast delta on the Bay of Bengal and has been declared a ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’. Not only is it home to the famous Royal Bengal tiger, you will also discover numbers of birds like the small mini vet, white-bellied sea eagle, brown-winged kingfisher, black-capped kingfisher, Italian pond heron and much more. Naturally, the Sundarbans is known as ‘The Paradise of Birds’ to many bird-lovers. The glimpse of spotted deer in the forest will be enough to keep you busy with your camera shutter.

Ratargul, Sylhet

Sylhet is the land of water and lakes, and ‘Ratargul’, the snake sanctuary, is a real adventure through the freshwater swamp forest. This green forest remains underwater most of the time and is navigated by boat. The overhead blue sky makes the surroundings even more eye-catching by casting its reflection on the clear water. The adventure of experiencing the wildlife here cannot be compared to anything. The green surroundings will make you feel closer than you’ve ever felt to the Mother Nature.

Paharpur Bihar

Return to an age of amazement and wonderment in Paharpur Bihar, in north Bengal. This seventh-century archaeological site is now considered a world heritage. It holds the evidence of the era of ‘Mahayana Buddhism’ in Bengal and was a renowned intellectual center until the twelfth century. This monastery city represents a unique artistic achievement, with its profusion of carved decoration, breathtaking terracotta plaques, pottery, coins, ornamental bricks, and other minor clay objects. A heavenly playground for those with archaeological interest.

Shat Gombuj Mashjid

‘Shat Gombuj Mashjid’ is a mosque built by a great Muslim Saint Khan Jahan Ali with 81 domes, and has been classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well. You can find the true meaning of inner silence and the truth of eternal presence. Its authenticity along with simplicity will make you reflect on and appreciate the small moments of happiness in life that remain unnoticed most of the time. This wonderful archaeological beauty which is the signature of 15th-century architecture was constructed with terracotta decoration. The old decorated boundary wall around the mosque yard, beautiful design around the doors simply bear the former Muslim cultural tradition. It is magnificent in its own way.

Trying to find Bangladesh in a travel book will never let you experience her true beauty. Its incredible tradition, magic, warmth of bonding and rhythm of life is definitely an experience that must be explored. The colorful life of this tiny country can provide real enjoyment and happiness for you which will stay with you for a very long time.

Shared from The Culture Trip
Link: https://theculturetrip.com/asia/bangladesh/articles/top-5-stunning-places-in-bangladesh-you-don-t-want-to-miss/

Friday, July 28, 2017

Travelling Leads to Promotions?

Tarek Musanna


Is this the beginning of a ridiculous article? Can travelling really help an individual’s professional life? Improve one’s job and career, leading to promotions in the work place? It might not make a lot of sense right now, but by the end of this article, it just might. So, keep reading on.

Germans might be one of the most efficient and productive bunch in the world, but do you know they also take more vacations than most other nations? Travelling does not only refresh one’s mind, but it is scientifically proven to also improve health and even increase creativity. The purpose of taking time off work, is to take a break from your normal routine and place yourself in a new environment, and it does not take a rocket scientist to understand that travelling serves that purpose best. 

A 2015 study, conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, showed that more than three-quarters of the HR managers surveyed, said that their employees who used their vacation time were more productive than the ones who didn’t. As for emotional health, many studies suggest that travelling can improve that too. A 2014 survey, conducted by Diamond Resorts International, found that over three-quarters of respondents reported feeling happier when they planned a trip, at least once a year. And the benefits don’t end with the trip; reminiscing about pleasant vacation memories tend to trigger positive emotions too, long after you’ve returned home.

According to Mark Twain, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Travelling has directly influenced many great writers, and there happens to be a scientific reason behind that. Creativity, in general, is related to neuroplasticity, or easily put, it is related to how the brain is wired. Neural pathways are influenced by environment and habit, which means that they are sensitive to change - new languages, smells, sounds, sensations, sights, and tastes, spark different synapses in the brain and have the potential to revitalize the mind.

Not taking vacation time can go as bad as even harming the economy, according to a research. Workers in Finland, with an average of 40 vacation days a year, happen to rank 6th on the Global Competitiveness scale. Stress is a major health issue for workers, and has been called the new tobacco, owing to the physically damaging effects it creates for the body; part of the reason why you can see some major multinational companies offering to take their employees to paid trips.

Still not convinced that travelling does wonders? Here’s a rundown of famous travelers who owe quite a lot to this particular passion of theirs - Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks learned about the Italian coffee culture, took it to America and established a billion dollar chain. It was while travelling that Red Bull was invented; Dietrich Mateschitz founded the drink, upon noticing a special drink drivers seemed to gulp down, to stay up at night in Thailand. J.K. Rowling thought of Harry Potter when she was travelling on a train. Steve Jobs’ pilgrimage to India is very well known too. Eat, Pray, Love isn’t just a fictional book or a movie, it also happens to be inspired by real travelling events.

And if you’re still not sold, why don’t you take a break and go travelling for a couple of days, and then see for yourself if you get better at work after returning.

5 Natural Falls to visit This Summer

Mehnaz Tabassum


In a torrid summer noon, you might have escaped urbanity and lost yourself in wild natural beauty. You could not take your eyes off of it; the refreshing serenity of deep green and bright light blue around - that is the way you want summer to be. However, you witnessed all of it on the screen of your computer. Want to experience the perfect summer in reality? Here are five natural falls that you must consider:

Nafakhum

The misty Nafakhum is originated from the hilly river Sangu, situated at Remarki, Thanchi Upazila of Bandarban. It can be rather difficult to reach, and owing to that, it is yet to become a tourist hotspot. To go to Nafakhum, first, you need to travel to Bandarban, and then head to Thanchi by bus, which might take about four to five hours. From there, the journey to Remarki continues on an engine boat; beware of the heavy tides, especially during rainy season. On reaching Remarki, you have to get registered at the Army Camp, and from there to Nafakhum, it takes about three hours on foot; it is recommended to start this leg of the journey as early as dawn.


Amiakhum

Once you get yourself up to Nafakhum, don’t just stop there; walk for a while and reach Amiakhum. Khum is the marma word for falls; explains the names of both the falls. Amiakhum is in Sajiapara, which takes about four hours, on foot, from Nafakhum. Suggestion for this trip would be to restore your adventurous spirit, and definitely wear comfortable shoes.



Jadipai

Among the endless natural treasures that Bandarban has to offer, Jadipai happens to be one of the wildest natural falls out there. To reach Ruma Upazila, where Jadipai is situated, you can take a Chander Gari, a local jeep, after coming to Bandarban. The sight that would be in front of you, on reaching Jadipai, will definitely make you forget your qualms about the journey. For those who want to stay the night, can do so at Bogalake area, which is near Jadipai. Moreover, the highest peak of Bangladesh, Keokaradong hill is two hours walking distance, from the fall. Two birds with one stone, eh?



Humhum

Humhum, another natural waterfall of Bangladesh, is concealed in a reserved forest of Razkandi, Sreemangal Upazila, in Sylhet. Whether you take a plane or train to complete the first leg of your journey to reach Sreemangal, from there, you may need to buckle up for a jeep journey to Madhabpur. To the fall from Madhabpur, it is going to take nearly four hours on foot. For those who have hiked before, you might encounter new challenges on this route, and for those who haven’t, are recommended to prepare well for the hike. You would also find guides on your way, to make the travelling a tad bit easier. 


Pangthumai

Panthumai fall is located in a village, bordering India; it is located in the Gowainghat upazila, in Sylhet. Interestingly, even though the fall originates in India, the lake under the fall happens to be in Bangladesh. Since nature has no sense of border, it flows and connects the neighboring countries. After reaching Sylhet, it is rather easy to reach the village Pangthumai. In comparison to the journeys mentioned above, this one seems to be little laid back.



Whether you want a day out or an entire week, natural falls are soothing places to go, and since it’s within the boundaries of your country, what’s the hold up?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Making Rainbows in a Glass – Seven-layer Tea in Bangladesh

Vicky Baker


One of Heston Blumenthal’s most famous Fat Duck concoctions is a cup of tea that stays piping hot on one side of the cup and stone cold on the other. Yet, far from green and pleasant Berkshire, in a humble roadside tea cabin in rural Bangladesh, there’s another culinary alchemist working his magic – without any of the cutting-edge food technology afforded Heston.

Romesh Ram Gour, from Srimongol in the county’s north-east Sylhet region, has become a local legend as the inventor of a multi-layer tea.

For him, it’s not about the combination of different temperatures, but different colours and flavours. He manages to get seven of them (sometimes even 10) in one glass (around £1), all lining up like a dusky rainbow. Each sip delivers a different taste, from syrupy sweet to spicy cloves.

Nilkantha Tea Cabin in Srimongol.
 Nilkantha Tea Cabin in Srimongol. Photograph: Alamy
The best thing about visiting the tearoom – which is, essentially, a very basic, open-fronted kiosk – was the buzz of excitement. The walls were lined with newspaper clippings about the “secret recipe” and people come from far and wide to meet Gour, an unassuming man who seems somewhat baffled by all the attention he and his tea attracts.

It’s rumoured that a major Bollywood star once offered to fly Gour to India and pay him handsomely if he’d create the tea for his wedding guests. Gour declined, just as he also refused to expand his business across the country or internationally. I asked him if he ever regretted this. “What for?” he shrugged. “For money? A bigger TV? I’m happy with life as it is.”

Shared from The Guardian
Link: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2016/aug/28/sylhet-bangladesh-seven-layer-tea-nikantha-tea-cabins

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Guide to Packing like a Pro for Trips

Subah Shaheen



Prepping for trips can be quite confusing; regardless of how many vacations you have had or how many times you have gone over ‘efficient packing’ tutorials, you will either end up being that person who borrows from others, or someone who ends up complaining about not using half their luggage. No worries though, for that is about to change! With the following tips, you can quite certainly pack like a pro, and be the entirely self sufficient smart traveler you’ve longed to become. Of course, your destination and your plans when you get there, are to influence your packing, so I’ll break it down accordingly.

The Very Basics
These commodities apply whether one is going for a fun weekend with friends, or for a big international adventure. The globetrotter should always carry hand sanitizer, tissue paper, a portable charger or a good old fashioned one, spare cash in different denominations, general medication, sunglasses and case, sunscreen, umbrella, headphones, electric converters or adapters, and a small bottle of emergency water. Additional toiletry items such as toothbrush and toothpaste, perfume/cologne, cream, comb, hair bands, soap, shampoo, towel, and scissors, are a must as well. Needless to say, your laptop and phone are essentials everywhere.

The Big Event Trip
Ex-roommate’s destination wedding or a family retreat to celebrate the grandparents’ anniversary, when you have a big event to celebrate, your packing needs to reflect that. Let’s first start with the clothes; count the number of events you’ll have and really, plan out your wardrobe before packing, and keep an extra set for emergencies of course. Packing a sewing kit would be a smart move. Accessories, shaving cream and razors, hair products, hair dryer, and makeup, are important to bring out the best in you on your loved one’s special day. While the event might be the highlight, there will be several bonding opportunities for you and your fellow travelers, so take with you some suitable movies and games. Also, travelling with a big group means adjustments and compromises, so take something to help you handle it; sleeping pills or chocolate, whatever helps you relax better is an important part of the luggage.

Away For Some Alone Time
As the name suggests, this trip is for those times when you need a break. A real break, to rewind and rejuvenate. Take whatever gives you inner peace; your guitar, some promising books, a typewriter, a canvass and your coloring set, a long playlist of all your favorite tracks, or maybe just an empty album you want to fill with pictures of new adventures. If you haven’t got everything planned out, make sure to take some relevant apps that will help you, such as apps for transportation, maps, hotels, sightseeing suggestions etc.

For All International Trips
Passport, tickets, other relevant IDs, travel documents, and a pen, should be in your carryon bag. Also, carry emergency contact numbers and guide books to give you a strong sense of bearing in the unfamiliar place. Lastly, keep in mind the airport luggage rules; there is nothing as cumbersome as having to get your bag checked every time, so make sure you are not packing anything in the carryon bag that sets off detectors.
The above list should ensure that you have no luggage related mishaps on your trip. The most basic thing to pack are one’s clothes, so try to iron the ones you want to take and fold them neatly in an organized manner, in order to quickly find what you want later.  It’s best to pack a little in advance so that your brain can subsequently absorb it all in, and if new ideas for the trip do spring up, you can pack up for that as well. 

A trip worth leaving an unhealthy habit?

Tarek Musanna




As much as people might want to wander around, explore the unknown, and experience new things, the sad reality is that not everyone gets the chance to travel, at least not as much as they would like, mostly because travelling can be quite expensive. But, if you really are as adventurous as you claim to be, there are ways you can save up for that day out or the weekend gateway you wanted. Tiger Tours BD is offering a range of affordable packages to ensure the most fulfilling travelling experience for you, chances to add some points to your life’s resume, and of course, an opportunity for you to think over some rather unwise life decisions on your part and maybe, turn them over.

For the Riverine Folks
The rainy season is here; the roads are flooding and the rain keeps drenching you at the worst of times. It might be absolutely terrible to be in Dhaka at this time, but this is also the time when the rivers of this beautiful country bloom the most! Tiger Tours is offering you a package to navigate through the amazing southern water of Barishal, a package that happens to include the amazing opportunity of night cruising with paddle steamers. During the day, there are gorgeous sites to visit - Halima Manzil, Guthia Mosque, Durga Sagor Dighi, the estate of Kirtipasa Zaminder, etc. And all the delicious fried fish that you’re going to have the chance to try, is perhaps going to be better than the high-end restaurants’ dishes you chomp on, while you’re in the capital.

For the Busy Souls 
If you’re not willing to go through the hassle of a longer trip, how about settle for a one day trip? Exploring the remains of an ancient trade center idea might seem enticing for caged travel junkies, looking for a break. This 12 hour trip would consist of visiting the Mograpara Palace, Panam City, Grand Trunk Road, and Mughal Bridge, and then you could possibly see what the Folk Arts & Crafts Museum has to offer. You’re about to conjure up a lots of photos for #ThrowbackThursday or #FlashbackFriday. Away from the city and its junk food, along with getting a folder of great pictures. Not bad of a deal, eh?

For the Nature Lovers
If you’re particularly interested in reconnecting with Mother Nature, or making up for a week worth of legwork at the gym, Tiger Tour offers both the serenity of the north eastern borders and the splendor of the southern hills. These 3-4 day trips would immerse you into scenic views that you would never be able to forget. The northern trip is an overview of Sylhet, visiting Sangram Punji, Ali Azmat Clock, Keane Birdge, Sari River, Jantia Palace, and of course, mandatory visits to tea gardens, exploring the Lawachara National Park, Lalakhal and Jaflong. On the other hand, the southern trip to Bandarban offers an intense experience of some of the tallest places of Bangladesh through Nilachal, Meghla, Ruma Bazar, Golden temple, and trekking to Boga Lake.

All the trips mentioned above can be both hard on your body and wallet. So we suggest you start building up your stamina by working out beforehand; walk instead of taking the rickshaw for a kilometer commute, or take the bus instead of CNG for a while. Skip all types of outdoor dining. Maybe try quitting smoking, and save both your money and your body that day. Being healthy and fit enough to travel, is obviously very vital, and as hard as leaving an old habit could be, the satisfaction of completely enjoying yourself during that long-awaited trip, is going to be worth it.

The 10 Most Beautiful Towns In Bangladesh

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 | © Ziaul Hoque/Wikimedia Commons

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.


Shared from The Culture Trip
Link: https://theculturetrip.com/asia/bangladesh/articles/the-10-most-beautiful-towns-in-bangladesh/

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Five Renowned Sacred Mazars in Bangladesh

Sakib Khondoker


‘Religion’ is one of the key pillars that people tend to stand on; it gives us a path, a way towards ultimate contentment. But, how much do we know about?

Let’s have a look at the five most renowned mazars in Bangladesh, and why it is of utmost importance to visit them, at least once, irrespective of our religious diversities.

Tomb of Hazrat Shah Paran
Having played a significant role in propagating Islam and establishing Muslim rule in the Sylhet region, Hazrat Shah Paran had been exceedingly well-regarded. Born in Hadramaut, he was the nephew of Hazrat Shah Jalal. It is unclear as to how and when he died, but he is buried near his khanqah. His grave is located in a high hillock and is carefully preserved in a place built with bricks and surrounded by walls. On the northern side of the grave, there is an old tree named Asha-gachh (a tree of hopes), the branches and branchlets of which are extended above the entire tomb. There is an ancient mosque by the side of the tomb, which had been modernized in the early 90s. About 1500 devout Muslims can now say their prayers there.

Place: Sylhet

Shrine of Hazrat Shah Jalal
This fascinating and atmospheric shrine of the revered 14th-century Sufi saint Shah Jalal, is one of Bangladesh's biggest pilgrimage sites. Housing a mosque and the main tomb, the complex is accessed through an open staircase from the East Darga gate entrance. Shah Jalal’s tomb is covered with rich brocade, and the space around it is illuminated with candles in the evenings, lending a magical feel. Non-Muslims can enter; however there are certain dress codes that are needed to be maintained, and shoes need to be removed before entering. You can also walk around the hillside graveyard behind the shrine, dotted with tombs.

Place: Sylhet

Tomb of Hazrat Golap Shah
Amidst the hustle and bustle of Gulistan, one of the busiest intersections of the city, a small, beautifully decorated shrine known as the Golap Shah Mazar, catches the eyes of pedestrians and commuters passing the area.

For thousands of followers of Golap Shah, the century-old shrine with all its serenity and spiritual ambience, is a place for praying and paying respect to the spiritual leader. But very few people know the actual history of the shrine.

Situated in Gulistan, Dhaka, this is one of the most visited mazars and anyone not having visited it, well, should.

Place: Dhaka

Tomb of Konya Shah
Adjacent to the main tomb complex of Shah Paran, found in the East of Sylhet, is another tomb visited by worshipers, which is of Konya Shah. Legend has it, that this follower of the great saints was neither man nor woman. There is a permanent exhibition of the life of this saint; contemporary paintings and pictures featured at the exhibition depict a person most likely to be a eunuch. Though the original conquerors earned a prominent role in Islamic history, main stream Islam shuns the idea of worshiping saints. A road bridge over the Surma River, a passenger ferry, and a hall of residence at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, have all been named after Shah Paran.

Place: Sylhet

Shrine of Bayazid Bostami

Residing in Chittagong, the shrine area, as a complex, consists of a tomb surrounded by a brick structure, along with an old mosque and a large pond. The whole complex is located on a hillock of Nasirabad, considered to be a holy place and attracts a large number of visitors and pilgrims daily. The tomb and the sarcophagus it houses, were originally discovered in 1831. This shrine is much different from all the aforementioned shrines; numerous myths and mysteries circulate around it.

Place: Chittagong

Relive the history for yourselves, of the five most sacred mazars in Bangladesh; hop on Tiger Travels Limited and make it a tour worth remembering. 

8 different Iftars, 1 Bangladesh

Sumaiya Tasnim


Ramadan, for Muslims around the world, is considered to be a month of forgiveness, love, and patience. As Ramadan is getting closer by the day, there seems to be an increasing anticipation of what this year’s Iftar feastings will bring forth. In Bangladesh, after a day of fasting, we do tend to go a tad bit overboard with all that food, with eight different divisions exhibiting their own unique styles of preparing Iftar.

Barisal: The diary of Sujabad
Zerin Ahmed, a sophomore in a private university, has always spent the last weeks of Ramadan at her grandparents’, an ongoing tradition that requires the entire family to come together and bond. For Iftar, following the usual khejurs, piyaju, and daal puri, they tend to eat a bowl or two of some chira and curd mixed together; it is thought to help the body with proper digestion.
Hotel Grand Park arranges Iftar with a variety of dishes, which have gained a lot of popularity over the years. Just remember to stop yourself from binging too much.

From Chittagong, with Love
Best known for their seafood delicacies, Chittagong has its own style of making Iftar. Shammi Kebab, Beef Shaslik, Chana Bhuna, Piaju, Jilapi, and the likes, are considered to be the crowd favourite, but prawn fries dipped in a spicy batter, seems to always win the race.
Chittagong Gooners, Handi, Peninsula Hotel, and several other places, organize their Iftars with delicious dishes.

Dhaka: The Heart of Bangladesh
Dhaka, the capital of our country, seems to be full of innovative ideas in preparation for Ramadan. During that period of time, people tend to look out for the different offers and discounts, which a lot of restaurants tend to give out. Places like Old Dhaka and Chawkbazar seem to start a food rage, as early as three in the afternoon during Ramadan. Many kinds of khejurs, along with numerous recipes of Haleem, are willing to create a party for your taste buds. If invited to a family gathering, jilapis, different flavours of yogurt, or even fruit juices could pose to be the perfect gift.

Delicious Khulna
Street food seems to create all the hype in Khulna, starting from the vendors who sell fried dishes like piyaju, to the ones who sell juices and fruits.
Shawarma House, Café Mariot, CityLight Café and Restaurant, are also very popular spots for Iftar feasts.

Mymensingh and You
Mymensingh, popular for the hill tracts and tourists’ spots, brings about a different side when it comes to Iftar items. Along with the other kebabs, the Gurda kebab and jaali kebab, are two of the most popular Iftar dishes.

Mangolicious Rajshahi
Rajshahi is famous for the varieties of mangos available in the region, and using them, people make mango yogurt, mango smoothies, aam makha, and the list goes on, all of which are served during Iftar time.

Rangpur and Potatoes
Potatoes always steal the show in Rangpur, when it comes to Iftar. It could be incorporated into the menu as simple fries, or as a sidekick to other dishes, but as far as potatoes are concerned, let’s just say Robin sometimes outshines Batman.

Sylhet: Not Just About Tea
Sylhet’s Iftar delicacies are almost as refined as their tea. Modina Bazaar, Ambar Khana, and other such places, provide saucy chicken lollipops, jhal aloor chop, and boot bhajha as delicious Iftar items, and of course, tea is offered as a part of post-Iftar adda!

If you happen to be a foodie who also likes to travel, then “Tiger Tours Limited” is something that you could consider; they are a small group of people from all across the world, committed to the development of sustainable tourism in Bangladesh, in order to strengthen homegrown programs for social and economic development of this young country.

On that note, here’s hoping this Ramadan will be an amazing one! Let us love and learn to empathise!