Wednesday, January 18, 2017

All you need to know about travelling alone

Badruzzahan Ahmed



We came to this world alone. We will leave this world alone too. And yet somehow, we seem to be afraid of doing certain things on our own. Sure, having someone to share experiences multiplies the joy and divides the sorrow, but it is equally important to know who we truly are without feeling the necessity to be someone the world expects us to be. Our society, families and social circles rarely give us this opportunity to be alone on the path of self-discovery. Travelling solo offers us a chance to discover who we really are beyond the safety of our comfort zones and expectations.

To travel solo for the first time in a nutshell can be described as a true leap of faith. To travel solo, one must have faith that the world has more good people than bad, and that the greatest acts of kindness are sometimes from strangers that we may never meet again. But for the solo traveller, the distinction between having faith on the best of human nature and naïve whimsical acts is crystal clear. Solo travellers accept kindness with gratitude but also keep an alert mind to ensure personal safety.

An advice to first time solo travellers with possible cold feet would be this: start your first solo adventure to a destination that you feel you would be culturally and socially comfortable with. This gives the advantage of understanding the locals, place and contextual etiquettes better, and creates no stress from ‘cultural shock,’ adjustment or homesickness. Also, try to keep the duration of the first solo trip between 5-7 days. With more trips that you will make, you will gain experiences that will allow you to extend trips longer. Attempting to travel to an absolutely far-off culturally different destination might create excessive stress that will leave the wrong impression about solo travels. However, this is not necessarily true for all travellers.

The definition of the most rewarding moment of solo travels varies based on the traveller’s personality. However, one recurring reward as expressed by most travellers is discovering that we are responsible for our own happiness and satisfaction in life, and projecting the responsibility of personal happiness on another individual is sometimes unfair. Additionally, spending time with oneself allows us to contemplate our lives from a different perspective. A foreign destination sometimes reminds us how blessed we are, and alternately, how we could do better.

In the digital age of social media where we are ‘always connected,’ travelling solo and spending time with oneself continues to be vastly underrated. As the ancient Greek wisdom goes ‘Know Thyself,’ for the self can simultaneously be our greatest weakness or strength.


Shared from ICE TODAY
Link: http://icetoday.net/2016/12/all-you-need-to-know-about-travelling-alone/

Dolphins evolving in the Bay

ABIDA RAHMAN CHOWDHURY

 

The bay of bangle, the largest bay in the world, veiled in mystery, home to sea gods and goddesses, and full of stories of many travelers who braved the high seas to make it to the land of spices, is also one that boasts of incredible biological diversity.

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Genetic research conducted by marine scientists on the Indo-Pacific bottlenose and humpback dolphins has found animals that are distinct from their neighboring populations, according to a new study by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and the Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes (cE3c), Universidade de Lisboa.

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 “Our  findings indicate that there is a connection between the presence of these distinct populations  of dolphins and the unique oceanic habitat that is found in the Bay of Bengal,” Amaral, the lead author of the study, said in an article published in the WCS Newsroom.
“The combination of a biologically rich yet isolated seascape could be driving speciation, or the emergence of new species,” the author was quoted as saying in the article.

The bay of Bengal, which is located in the northen Indian Ocean, has a unique habitat with a combination of multiple factors: it receives huge amounts of freshwater and organic matter, including sediments and minerals, from the Meghna, Brahmaputra and Ganges rivers, and leaf litter and other bio-productivity from the world’s largest mangrove forest, a unique ecosystem in its own right.

The researchers collected skin samples from 32 coastal Indo-Pacific and humpback dolphins for the study.
Genetic sequences were then extracted from the samples for comparison with previously published sequences for both species. The researchers found both dolphins to be genetically isolated from nearby populations.

The study titled “Oceanic drivers of population differentiation in Indo-Pacific bottlenose (Tursiops aduncus) and humpback (Sousa app.) dolphins of the northern Bay of Bengal” was recently published in Conservation Genetics.

[The authors of the study are Dr Ana R Amaral of cE3c, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal and AMNH’s Sackler Institute of Comparative Genomics; Brian D Smith and Rubaiyat M Mansur of WCS; and Dr Howard C Rosenbaum of WCS and affiliated with AMNH.]




The article published by The Daily Star

Link: http://epaper.thedailystar.net/index.php?opt=view&page=17&date=2017-01-13

Friday, December 30, 2016

Discovering our heritage - Atiya Mosque

Nahin Taher

Discovering our heritage Atiya Mosque


History never fails to revive old memories of a place, things and people. However, we don’t take it as our responsibility to maintain or preserve an edifying glory, that once stood out to tell the tale of its origin. And, to know more about that origin, we need to travel and seek in-depth knowledge of that historical heritage. Travelling, history and heritage are entwined souls; and one without the other is just a lost piece of our past. One such glorifying heritage, that was built four centuries ago, is the Atiya Mosque.

Atiya Mosque, is situated in Atiya – a small village in the Delduar Upazila, 6km away from Tangail district. The beautiful mosque is surrounded by the serene Louhojong River on its eastern side.

This ancient mosque was constructed around 1610-1611 AD, during the reign of Emperor Jahangir, by Sayeed Khan Panni, son of Baizid Khan Panni, in honour of Shah Baba Kashmiri. The small village Atiya, came into prominence after the arrival of a great saint Shah Baba Kashmiri, who was preaching Islam in this part of Bengal. The Atiya Mosque is now a protected monument under the Department of Archeology and Museum of Bangladesh. The mosque has undergone repairs twice, once by Rawshan Khatun Chaudhuri in 1837 AD, and again by Abu Ahmed Gajnabi in 1909, because of its severe depletion due to a massive earthquake that took place in 1800.

This historical mosque has four spherical domes at the top. The larger dome is located in the western part of the mosque, and the three smaller domes are located in the east. These three domes are constructed in a single row. All the domes have ornate decorations at the bottom part, and have a small minaret-like object at the top. Four decorative pillars support the mosque at the four corners.

The popularity of the Atiya mosque is because of its impressive and decorative terracotta art, which has been carved into the bricks with ornate designs. The lovely floral patterned rosettes and geometric terracotta, which are carved inside the circle on the outer side of the northern and eastern walls, are the depiction of the artistic décor used during the Muslim-Bengal period. This piece of craftsmanship made a distinct contribution in making this structure the beautiful heritage that it is today. The architectural features of a typical Bengali villager’s plaited grass hut are reflected in the close-set panel decoration of the Atiya Mosque’s facade. The designs and the architectural patterns of the mosque blend harmoniously to reflect both the Sultanate and Mughal features of Bengal.

There is a large water tank at the western side of the mosque. The mosque has three entrances in the eastern side, and two entrances at the north and south sides each. The homogeneous terracotta panels, with exquisite floral designs, embellished with numerous small rectangular terracotta panels in the eastern facade of the mosque, are similar to that of Gaur (a ruined city in the India-Bangladesh boarder), the Jhan Jhania mosque (built in 1535) and the Kadam Rasul building (built in 1530).

Interesting fact:


The iconic Atiya Mosque is printed on the Ten Taka note of Bangladesh. But, sadly enough, nowadays these notes are very rare and are available only at the banks or are kept as mementos.

Shared from Dhaka Tribune

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sundarbans: Adventure in Nature

Nusaira A. Hassan



If anyone were to ask which is the best place to visit in Bangladesh one would reply with either Cox’s Bazaar or Sundarbans without missing a beat. For the travellers who look for a haven away from the hustle and bustle of the city and want to be one with Nature, Sundarbans is the more obvious choice. Set against a background of lush green trees, which constitutes the largest single block of halophytic mangrove forest in the world, Sundarbans is the idyllic setting for the adventurous. Apart from that, the mist-shrouded and river-riddled mangrove forest is listed among the heritage sites of the world as chosen by UNESCO. Sundarbans boasts the largest single population of tigers or rather Royal Bengal tigers in the world and these magnificent creatures are easily the region’s biggest attraction.

Situated in the South West part of Bangladesh, Sundarbans is a major tourist spot of the Khulna division. The journey from any part of Bangladesh to Sundarbans is an adventure in itself. For the Dhakaites, the quickest route would be to pay for an air fare to Khulna, but if one wanted to take in the rustic rural scenery, then coach and overnight train rides as well as long drives by cars are also available options. Rocket steamers or paddle wheel ferries also serve as popular choices for transport. With Khulna as the starting point, Hularhat is the next destination, taking almost 16 hours of journey, followed by a two to three bus ride via Bagerhat to Katuakhali. Irrespective of the starting point, one has to take part in a water voyage from Khulna or Mongla Port, where one can find numerous private boat services for the rest of the journey.

The mangrove forest is home to not only Royal Bengal tigers, but also prominent animals such as spotted deer, crocodiles, jungle fowls, wild boars, birds and lizards as well. For the Slytherin at heart, Sundarbans has an assortment of different snakes ranging from King Cobras to Russel’s Vipers and Rock Pythons.

Travelers and tourists alike can take in the panoramic view from different locations including Hiron Point, possibly the best known spot for catching a glimpse of various animals such as tigers and deer. For the ones who want to snatch a glance of blue, pristine water, Dublar Char Island is the ideal locale. Travelers can not only take in the scenery but also get a first-hand experience of the lifestyle of local fishermen. The island is also home to spotted deer and crocodiles, which grow up to a length of 7 meters, and can be seen basking in the warm glow of the sunlight in nearby streams. Tin Kona Island, where the land and streams play hide-and-seek and Katka are also other tourist spots waiting to entertain guests from all over the world. Needless to say, the best way to explore Sundarbans in depth is to take a three-or-four-day boat trip through the forest. Travelers can then have the unique experience of either tracking Royal Bengal Tigers on foot or take rides on smaller boats along narrow river channels. Either way, armed forest guards ensure that everyone has an enjoyable and safe voyage.



For the avid bird-watcher, Sundarbans is a sight for sore eyes with different species of birds flocking into the forests from all over the world, including migratory birds that are yearly guests from April to May. During the rest of the year, visitors can come across up to nine different species of kingfishers.
Even though hunting is prohibited under the country’s legal system, amateur hunters can still fulfil their hobbies by shooting certain species of birds with permission from the Forest Board.
One of the highlights of Sundarbans is the collection of honey during the seasonal time of the year from April to May. The honey-gatherers known locally as the maualis follow a honey-harvest trail and visitors can follow them around as they take on the formidable honeybees of the region.



From a practical perspective, Sundarbans is detached from the modern parts of Bangladesh and one would do well to be accompanied by an expert guide. Also,visitors should carry anti-malarial, anti-diarrhoeal medicines and insect repellents to ward of mosquitoes and insects alike.

Sundarbans offers a little something for everyone, whether an adventurous getaway or a thrilling escapade into the wilderness. So, when are you boarding the next train to Khulna?

Friday, December 23, 2016

Top 12 Places to Visit in Bangladesh (With Pictures)


Article by Smiriti Chand



What special things are there to see in Bangladesh? The reality is that you cannot afford to be ignorant of some of the highly magnificent places without visiting them, which are the signature sites of Bangladesh. Missing those wonderful places would perhaps be somewhat like visiting Paris without enjoying the grandeur of Eiffel Tower. Here are the top 12 magnificent places to visit in Bangladesh:


1. Cox’s Bazar




The seaside town Cox’s Bazar is located in Chittagong Division. Also known as Panowa, it has the longest (125 kilometers) natural and sandy sea-beach. ‘Panowa’ literally means ‘yellow flower’. Cox’s Bazar is the district headquarter.

Cox’s Bazar is considered as one of the most widely visited tourist destinations in Bangladesh. The huge Buddhist monastery named Aggmeda Khyang is one of the top tourist attractions here. Ramu is a village where the Buddhist population resides. Cox’s Bazar is well known for its homemade cigars and handicrafts. Also the first safari park of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Safari Park is about 50 kilometers away from Cox’s Bazar Town.

2. Saint Martin




The only coral island of Bangladesh, Saint Martin’s Island is quite small and it embraces about 8 square kilometers of the land area. Located close to Chhera Island, it was first named as Zajira by some unknown Arabian sailors.

The present name ‘Saint Martin’s Island’ came into existence during the rule of British. Sunrise and sunset, exotic village life, sea turtle hatchery, coral rocks, and plentiful stars at night are some most cherished attractions here. Fishing, oceanic scuba diving, and walk by the sea beach are some fascinating activities here.

3. Kuakata




Kuakata is located in the southern part of Bangladesh. The panoramic view of the sea beach and the beautiful tourist attractions in and round Kuakata makes it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bangladesh.

The sunset and sunrise can be seen in their full splendor from the wide sandy beach of Kuakata. Fatrar Chor (part of Sundarban), Gangamati Reserved Forest, Jhau Bon (forest), Keranipara Seema Temple, Misripara Buddhist Temple, and Eco Park are very popular among both domestic and foreign tourists.


4. Sundarban




Sundarbans, literally meaning ‘beautiful forest’ is known all over the world for the tidal halophytic mangrove forest. Several documentary films have been made on this exotic forest.

Sundarban is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The major part of it is in Bangladesh; some part of it also comes under Indian Territory. Densely covered with forest, it is considered to be one of the largest reserves that protect Royal Bengal Tiger. Captivating flora, and fauna like avifauna, aqua-fauna, predators, and reptiles add beauty to the charm of Sundarban National Park, Sundarbans West Wildlife Sanctuary, Sundarbans South Wildlife Sanctuary, and Sajnakhali Wildlife Sanctuary.


5. Bandarban




Bandarban, literally meaning ‘dam of monkeys’, is a district of Bangladesh in Chittagong Division and Chittagong Hill Tracts. After the Chittagong Hill Tract Insurgency, it emerged as one of the most fascinating tourist attractions of Bangladesh.

The beautiful mountain ranges escalate the natural beauty of the surroundings. The largest Buddhist temple of Bangladesh known as Buddha Dhatu Jadi is situated in Bandarban. Shoilo Propat waterfall at Milanchari; several Buddhist temples like Ujanipara Vihar and Raj Vihar; Chimbuk Hill and Tribal Villages are worth watching. Also the peaks like Nilgiri and Thanchi captivate the eyes of the tourists immensely.

6. Rangamati




Known as the ‘Lake City’ of Bangladesh, Rangamati is full of matchless beauty and is one of the most visited tourist destinations of Bangladesh. It is located about 77 kilometers away from Chittagong.

Buses, taxis, and some other private vehicles can be taken from Chittagong to Rangamati. Rangamati Town, Hanging Bridge, Kaptai Lake, and Indigenous Museum are among the notable landmarks and popular tourist destinations of Rangamati. Hotel Sufia International, Hotel Green Castle, Parjaton Motel and Banapura Tourist’s Inn are some favorite hotels for the tourists who visit Rangamati.

7. Chittagong





Chittagong is quite a big town. The largest international seaport in Bangladesh is situated here. Shah Amanat International Airport connects Chittagong to various hot destinations of the world through airways. It functions as a domestic airport too.

Patenga Beach, Foy’s Lake, Shrine of Baizid Bostami, World War II Cemetery, Ethnological Museum, Chittagong Medical College, Court Building, and Kattali Beach are some of the most famous tourist spots in Chittagong. There are several hotels of different categories in Chittagong that cater to the needs of all types of tourists and visitors.

8. Sylhet




Located amidst the picturesque landscape of Surma Valley, Sylhet is such a well-visited and popular tourist destination that no tourist desires to miss a visit. Sylhet is the largest city of Sylhet Division of Bangladesh. It embraces the population of more than 500,000 residents.

The scenic beauties of Tamabil-Jaflong, Kalibari Temple near Jaflong, Sri Mahalaxmi Temple near Sylhet city, the largest tea garden named Sree Mangal, and Lawacherra Rain Forest are really eye-catching in and around Sylhet. The tourists can enjoy shopping at the places like Al Hamra, Blue Water, Millennium, Aarong, Monorom, Artisti, Westecs, and Kumarpara etc. There are several hotels like Hotel Supreme, Hotel Palash, Hotel Western, Hotel Golden City, Hotel Hilltown, and Niravana Inn etc. These hotels cater to the holistic needs of the tourists visiting and staying here.

9. Comilla





A big district in Chittagong Division along the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway, Comilla is a well-known tourist destination in Bangladesh. There are various places in Comilla that fascinate the tourists with many of the attractions there.

Lalmai Hills, Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development, War Cemetery, Maynamoti Museum, Shah Shuja Masque, and Comilla Zoo etc. brings in thousands of domestic and foreign tourists every year. The hotels like Bangla Restora, Nurjahan Hotel, Jur Kanon Hotel, Dina Hotel, and Moynamoti Hotels etc. are some well known and popular hotels & restaurants in Comilla.

10. Dhaka




Without visiting Dhaka, the visit to Bangladesh is incomplete. Dhaka is the largest and also the capital city of Bangladesh. Dhaka is an economic, academic and cultural hub of Bangladesh. There are more than eighteen million people dwell in Dhaka.

Dhaka is the center of almost everything and every activity in Bangladesh. The National Memorial, Liberation War Museum, National Parliament House, Shahid Minar, Hatir Jheel (Lake), Lalbag Fort, Dharmajika Buddhist Monastery, Pink Palace, Ahsan Manzil, American Church of the Holy Resurrection, Baldha Gardens, Ramna Park, Bangabandhu Memorial Museum, and Maynamati Ruins are some of the hottest tourist spots in Dhaka. Dhaka has so many places to visit that hardly can it be summed up in few words!

Furthermore, being the capital city of Bangladesh, Dhaka has several five, four and three, star hotels along with innumerable small hotels, guest houses, and restaurants.

11. Sonargaon




About 29 kilometers away from Dhaka, Sonargaon is located on Dhaka-Chittagong Highway. The rulers of different dynasties in the past had made Sonargaon the capital of Bangladesh and today, it exhibits the rich historical and cultural values.

The visit to Sonargaon is an unforgettable tour for lifetime. Folk Arts and Crafts Museum, Panam City, Royal Palace, beautiful gardens, and Old Lake etc. are some of the most fascinating tourist spots in Sonargaon.

Visiting Dhaka would be of course incomplete if anyone misses out Sonargaon.

12. Bogra




Bogra is located in Rajshahi Division of Bangladesh and is known as one of the oldest towns of Bangladesh. Due to its tourist hot-spots and escalating flow of domestic and foreign tourists, Bogra is considered to be one among the top tourist destinations in Bangladesh.

The ancient urban archaeological site Mahasthangarh, Behular Bashor Ghar, Nawab Palace, and Jaina Temple are some of the most visited tourist attractions in Bogra.


Shared from Your Article Library

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Breathtaking Sights in Bangladesh

Subah Shaheen

While there are several ways to celebrate the liberation of our country, travel enthusiasts will certainly see how visiting the country’s most scenic sights is one of the best ways to do it. Viewing our nation’s immense natural beauty fills us with a strong sense of admiration for our motherland as well as increase our gratitude towards those who fought valiantly to ensure our freedom and right over those enchanting places that we now call our own. The beauty of our country is surely not limited to a few specific locations, however to ease the task of the sightseer we offer the following popular destinations list-

Rangamati

Located on the banks of kaptai lake, this small town will treat you with numerous wonderful sights. With green hills on one side, water-bodies on another, the melodious sound of exotic birds chirping in the distance and a sky so clear that one can see all the streaks of pink and purple during sunsets- a trip to Rangamati will be one of the best decisions a nature lover can ever make. The diverse flora and fauna heighten the natural richness of this hilly terrain while the serpentine roads of Rangamati pose as a real adventurous treat for all the adrenaline junkies looking for some thrill. Another aspect which makes the region unique is the peaceful cohabitation of various ethnic groups. A diverse mixture of races, customs, religions and culture can be found in the region and are a real treat to behold and observe. Rangamati truly takes the traveler to a different place altogether and is the respite away from reality we all long for in a holiday.

Kuakata

A white sandy beach from where one can view the sunrise and the sunset from the exact same spot, Kuakata allows its visitors to have a refreshing day at the beach with fun festivities while offering a chance at great philosophical musings as well. To many the most breathtaking sight in the world is the rise and fall of waves or the merging of the sky with the water in the horizon. At Kuakata, the traveler can do both as well as explore the city and discover the culture and heritage of the tribal people residing there. Beaches will, till the end of time, enchant their beholders and Bangladesh can proudly boast of some of the world’s greatest beach destinations having both Kuakata and the world famous Cox’s Bazar under its flag.


Bandarban

 Another high terrain area in Chittagong, this heavenly destination is an absolute paradise for waterfall lovers. Beautiful like no other, Bandarban is an ideal location for hiking and is home to the three highest peaks of the country and encompasses numerous unique waterfalls. The high structures add to the aesthetics of the captivating landscape which a passerby could stare at for hours at a stretch in admiration. The local cuisine and handicrafts have played their parts in promoting the appeal of the region as well. Not just waterfalls, the region also boasts of the highest natural lake of the country- Boga lake, which is said to enthrall onlookers with its crystal clear water and surrounding lush greenery. The best part of holidaying in this hilly region, is the privacy and quietness of mother nature present here which allows the tourist to lose himself and his worries for an entirely calming experience. 

Sylhet

A top attraction site in Bangladesh, Sylhet is the place of dreams. Famous for its tea plantations, the place is also home to swamps, lakes, parks, forests and waterfalls. With religious points of interest such as Shahjalal’s (R) Mazar and Sree Chaitanya Dev Temple, Sylhet is the perfect blend of culture
meeting nature. A trip to Jaflong would mesmerize the traveler as not only the place itself but the journey to it would acquaint him with nature’s finest. In Sylhet there are plenty of diverse spots for one to explore and immerse oneself in, thus ensuring a great vacation for people of all preferences.

Khagrachari

A region where clouds seem to fly only a few yards above the ground; where the ground is covered by various shades of greenery for as far as the eye can see. A true treat for tourists is the district of Khagrachori where one can find lakes, rivers, waterfalls, hills, forests and a lot more. With various places of interest to be explored such as the mysterious Alutila cave and a century old banyan tree, Khagrachori is bound to be both an adventurous retreat and a relaxing getaway. 

The above featured only a small portion of Bangladesh’s natural attractions. While tributes to the heroes of 1971 can be given in numerous ways, travelling to the midst of our country’s natural wealth and realizing the great treasure trove our freedom fighters secured for us is undoubtedly the most aesthetically pleasing way of doing it.

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.