Sunday, July 5, 2009

Nusrat Shah's Mosque and Tank

Nusrat Shah's Mosque and Tank On the southeastern corner of a big tank popularly known both as 'Nasrat Badshar Dighi' and 'Bara Dighi' at mouja Chikandandi in Hathazari upazila of Chittagong district, a modern mosque was built in 1988 AD on the site of a medieval mosque. While the foundation of the new mosque was being laid some sand stone architectural members like pier, wall-pier, base stone, lintel, capital, turret, inscription and terracotta embellishment were unearthed. These building materials, except the inscription, illustrate the style of the Bengal Sultanate. The defaced inscription on shale might be an addition of a later date.

The medieval mosque was in use even in or before 1896 AD and looked after by the local Muslims. The design of the capitals and shafts of this mosque resemble those of CHHUTI KHAN'S MOSQUE and GUNMANT MOSQUE. The piece of terracotta window grill found in the debris is also similar in mould to that of BAGHA MOSQUE, another work of NUSRAT SHAH. The mosque was also profusely decorated with terracotta embellishments. The ruin depicts a six-domed mosque of the Husain Shahi style at the site with three arched entrances on the faE7ade, parallel to three mihrabs on the qibla wall. The interior of the mosque had three bays and two aisles.
The tank situated beside this mosque is the biggest one dug during the Sultanate in Chittagong. It is 523.04m in length and 352.04m in breadth over about 45.88 acres of land.
According to local tradition Prince Nusrat Shah, son of Alauddin HUSAIN SHAH, dug this tank and constructed the mosque. Prince Nusrat was sent from GAUR on a campaign to drive away the marauding Arakanese from Chittagong. To commemorate the conquest the prince renamed Chittagong as FATHABAD. The adjoining village Fathabad of the Chikandandi mouja still bears the legacy. [Shamsul Hossain]

Nijhum Dip

Nijhum Dip (Char Osman) a cluster of islands (mainly, Ballar Char, Kamlar char, Char Osman and Char Muri, with a total landmass of about 14050 acres) emerged in the early 1950s as an alluvium in the shallow estuary of the Bay of Bengal on the south of Noakhali. These new sandbanks first drew the notice of a group of fishermen, who named it Baular Char (literally, the alluvium of sand) later transformed into Ballar Char. During the winter, thousands of migratory birds flocked to it. The fishermen used the airy and sunny land as an ideal place for drying their catches from the sea. Sometimes many also constructed straw huts on the islands as seasonal residence.
As usual, the islands got covered with various aquatic rank grasses and became a rich grazing field. Later, the chars were surveyed professionally and were given the name Char Osman after the name of a pioneer settler Osman, the owner of a large cattle herd who used the islands as the grazing ground.
Migrating people did not come here for settlement until 1970. Many lived there on purely seasonal basis and the territory, popularly called Nijhum Dwip (the quiet island) was included in the Hatiya constituency in early 1970s. At about the same time, a large number of people losing their lands and homes because of riverbank erosion in nearby areas, especially Hatiya, Shahbajpur and Ramgati migrated to the island as new settlers.
Nijhum Dwip has six big bazaars with mainly the grocery shops, small restaurants and drug stores. These bazaars are the only places in the islands to have electricity from generators.
The forest department of the government of Bangladesh created mangrove forests in Nijhum Dwip and the main attraction in these forests is the herd of about 5000 spotted dear. The most important type of tree planted in the island is Keora, also known as Kerfa, which has fast growing roots holding the sandy land. The plant also supplies pillars for houses, materials for making boats and agricultural implements, and fuel for domestic use. In 2001, the government of Bangladesh declared Nijhum Dwip forests as National Park.
The population in Nijhum Dwip in 2001 was 10,670. Their main occupations are cultivation, fishing and livestock farming. The island produces vegetables in large quantities. Life in the island is hard and risky. People live here together amidst natural calamities. Notwithstanding, more and more people are migrating to the island in search of new land for homestead and cultivation.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


A very small market town (Monday is the weekly market). This is where one can take boats up the Matamurhi river and hike into interior tribal villages. There is a 3 room government guest house with basic facilities. Bangladesh Ecotours runs a small ecolodge about 20 minutes from the bazar area and arranges homestays with Tripuri, Tanchangya, Marma and Mru families. There are several small villages within a half-days walk.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


The Folk Art Museum, which was established in 1975 to fulfill the dream of the celebrated painter Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin, has a rich collection of different folk objects of aesthetic and utilitarian values. These reflect the temperment, skill and expertise of the artists and artisans who made them. The museum is a national institution which represents the traditional art and heritage of Bangladesh, exhibiting objects of exceptional design and skill.

Open : Saturday - Thursday 9.00a.m to 5.00 p.m.
Phone : Ph: 880-2-9716960.


The Chittagong Circuit House built in 1913 atop a hillock was transformed into Zia Memorial Museum in memory of late President Ziaur Rahman who was martyred here by a few misled army personnel at dead of night on 30th May 1980.

The place has developed into a full-fledged museum by September 1993 with a well-equipped conference room, a library and as many as 12 galleries. A total of 743 exhibits that include 336 souvenirs and 13 documents are laid out across the galleries. The radio transmitter, the microphone, the chair and the table which were used by Shahid President Ziaur Rahman when reading the Declaration of Independence in 1971 are displayed in galleries 1 and 2. His personal effects and belongings are exhibited in galleries 3, 4 and 5. In galleries 4 & 7 are put up portraits of the martyred President and the gift items that were presented to him by different Heads of states and diplomats. Gallery 12 contains a reconstruction of the event of this martyrdom.


American Club
House-13, Road-69, Gulshan Avenue , Dhaka
Tel: 8821025-7
Fax: 8821435

Canadian Club
House 16, DIT Avenue , Gulshan
Tel: 9881208, 8822704

Dutch Club
Road 80, House 2
Gulshan2, Dhaka
Tel: 8821892

Dhaka Club
Shahbagh, Dhaka
Tel: 8619183-4
Fax: 8610277

Dhanmondi Recreation Club
House 5, Road 10,
Dhanmondi, Dhaka
Tel: 9133282
Gulshan Club
House-NWJ/2/A, Road-50
Gulshan-2, Dhaka
Tel: 8827440, 8810313-4
Fax: 8829476
German Club
78, Gulshan Avenue
Road 104, Dhaka
Tel: 9895921
Kurmitola Golf Club
Dhaka Cantonment
Kurmitola, Dhaka
Tel: 8752520, 8752563
Fax: 8752521
Ladies Club
36, Eskaton Road, Dhaka
Tel: 9331461
National Press Club
Topkhana Road , Dhaka
Tel : 9563395, 9563383
Uttara Club
House 6, Road 9, Sector 1
Uttara, Dhaka
Tel: 8912600, 8913143
Fax: 8920642


Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts
House 275/F, Road 27
Dhanmondi, Dhaka
Tel: 8123115

BPS (Bangladesh Photographic Society) Secretariat Gallery
63/2, Science Laboratory Road Ground Floor, Dhaka
Tel: 8611284

Cezanne Art Gallery
UAE Moitri Complex
Kemal Ataturk Avenue
Banani, Dhaka
Tel: 8826578

Cezanne Art Gallery
Dhaka Sheraton Hotel, Dhaka ,
Tel: 8613391 Ext- 564

Divine Art Gallery
Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel
107, Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue
Karwan Bazar, Dhaka
Drik Gallery
House 58, Road 15A(New)
Dhanmondi, Dhaka
Tel: 9120125, Fax: 9115044

Gallery Chitrak
House-21, Road-4
Dhanmondi R/A, Dhaka
Tel: 8620345
Gallery 21
765, Satmasjid Road
Dhanmondi, Dhaka

National Art Gallery
Segunbagicha, Dhaka-1000
Tel: 9562801
Shilpa Rag
House 15, Road 16
Dhanmondi, Dhaka
Tel: 8117085 Fax: 8117085

Ree Art Gallery
281, New Circular Road (2nd Floor)
Mouchak, Dhaka
Tivoli Art Gallery
F/33, DCC Super Market (1st Floor)
Gulshan-2 (North) Dhaka
Tel: 9895903

House-25, Road-5
Dhanmondi, Dhaka


Some of the popular theater groups are - Dhaka Theatre, Nagarik Nattya Sampraday, Aranyak, Natychakra, Natyajon, Kranti, Matridhara and Bibortan etc. There are also many Cinema halls in all cities and towns where people watch mainly Bangladeshi movies. Some cinema halls also screen Hollywood and Hongkong made movies.

Mohila Samity Theatre

New Baily Road,


Tel: 9337050.

Public Library Auditorium

Dhaka University Area,

Shahbag, Dhaka.

Press Club Auditorium

Topkhana Road, Dhaka.
Tel: 9563385, 9563395

Modhumita Cinema Hall

158/160, Motijheel CA,


Tel: 9554386, 9550463

Fax: 9569841


Balaka Cinema Hall

Govt. New Market,


Ovishar Cinema Hall

35 Hatkhola Road,


Razmoni Cinema Hall

46 Kakrail,
Tel: 8622106


Shamoli Cinema Hall

Mirpur Road,



Tel: 9117744, 9113857

STAR Cineplex

Basundhara City, Level 8
13/Ka/1, Panthapath, Dhaka
Tel: 9138260, 9134098
Fax: 8612455

Girls Guide Theatre Guide House

New Baily Road, Dhaka
Tel: 8315501
Fax: 8315592



Alliance Francaise De Dhaka
26, Mirpur Road , Dhanmondi
Dhaka ,
Tel: 8611557
Fax: 8616462,

Bangla Academy
Dhaka University Area, Dhaka
Tel: 8619577, 8619583
Fax: 8612352,

Bangladesh Shishu Academy
Old High Court Road
(Opp. Carzon Hall), Dhaka- 1000
Tel: 9550317, 9564128
British Council
5, Fuller Road , Dhaka
Tel: 8618905-7, 8618867-8
Fax: 8613375,
Bulbul Lalitkala Academy
7, Wise Ghat, Dhaka- 1100
Tel: 7391838
German Cultural Center
House 10, Road 9
Dhanmondi, Dhaka
Tel: 9126525, 9126526
Fax: 8110712
Indian Cultural Center
H-25, Road-96, Gulshan-2
Tel: 8850141,
Fax: 8850142
Nazrul Institute
House 330B, Road 28(Old)
Dhanmondi, Dhaka
Tel: 9114500, Fax: 9118051
The Russian Centre of Science & Culture
House-510, Road-7
Dhanmondi, Dhaka
Tel: 9118531
Fax: 8113026,
Shilpakala Academy
Segunbagicha, Dhaka-1000,
Tel: 9561709, 9562801-4


The tradition of dance in Bangladesh is an old one. The classical dance forms have mostly been taken from North and South Indian schools, while influences of middle eastern dance is also noticeable in local dance forms. The indigenous and folk dance traditions are practiced widely and reflect the rich culture and history of Bangladesh. Many ethnic gorups have their own, distinct dance that are distinguished by grace and charm. For the santals and the hill people of Chittagong hill tracts are also have many attractive dance forms that quite popular with the people.


the musical instruments one will see or hear in Bangladesh include the bamboo flute, the tabla (a set of two percussion drums) and a wide variety of stringed instruments from the crude banjo like village 'ek-tara' (one stringed), 'do-tara' (two stringed) and to the highly refined multi stringed 'Sitar' and 'Sarode' used for classical music. Violins are also used and electric as well as ordinary guitars are played. The 'Tanpura' is used for the drone accompaniment in classical music. Harmonium is popular as an accompaniment in vocal performances.

Living in the land of torrential rains, mighty rivers and lush green beauty, the average Bangladeshi has a deep relationship with nature. The music of Bangladesh is therefore emotional, ecstatic and romantic. Among the genres sung or performed quite regularly are :

Classical songs and music
Semi-classical songs and music
Palli Geeti or folk songs
Rabindra Sangeet (songs by Rabindranath Tagore, the 1913 Nobel Prize winner in Literature)
Nazrul Geeti (songs by the Rebel poet of Bangaladesh).
Religious songs
Adhunik Gaaan or modern Bangla songs
Gano Sangeet or inspirational songs for the masses
Pop Songs
Bhatiali or boatmen's songs
Bhawaia or bullock cart drivers song
Band music or rock music

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Manipuri Ethnic Group in Bangladesh

The Manipuri people are of Mongolian descent and speak a language called Meithei. Most Manipuri people lived in northeastern India. The Manipuri fled from their homeland in the northeastern Indian kingdom of Manipur to settle in East Bengal, which was then ruled by Britain. However, in 1947 East Bengal gained its independence and today most Manipuri people live in the district of Sylhet of northeastern Bangladesh.

In contrast to the flat plains of Bangladesh, the district of Sylhet is characterized by rolling hills and is famous for its tea plantations and lush tropical forests. Most of the Manipuri peoples are farmers and they have a succeeded in growing crops of rice, sugarcane, tobacco, oranges and pineapples.

The Manipuri, according to their custom, do not eat meat, but they do eat fish. Manipuri people are primitive in that they still wash their clothes and bathe in the rivers. Their huts of mud and reeds are commonly built near the river’s edge.

When it comes to marriage ceremonies the Manipuri People must find a spouse from another clan because they may not marry within their own clan. Manipuri enjoy their recreation and some of their activity involves polo, boat racing, drama and dancing. They are famous throughout the world for their beautiful expressive dances, which are closely tied to their religion. Their style pf dancing is graceful and gentle and the themes are usually centered on the life of the god Krishna. Manipuri dancing is also characterized by the balancing technique applied by the dancers. The costumes worn by the dancers are designed so as not to arouse any excitement of the opposite sex and the dance rhythm involves mostly the upper part of the body so as not to appear immodest.

The Manipuri are very religious people, and are believed to have converted to Hinduism in the sixteenth century. However, elements of their pre-Hindu religion still remain today. They worship the Hindu gods but also worship many other gods of nature- the snake being one of them. The Manipuri people are also very superstitious and often make their decisions by observing the positions of roosters’ feet based upon an old proverb, “All wisdom derives from a rooster’s foot.”

Bangladesh launches tourism brand name

Dhaka - Bangladesh's interim government Saturday launched its tourism brand name 'Rupomoy Bangladesh' (Beautiful Bangladesh) in a bid to attract tourists from home and abroad.

Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed inaugurated the country's branding slogan and logo - a rising sun over blue sea - at a ceremony organised by the civil aviation and tourism ministry.

Fakhruddin highlighted the need for an investment-friendly climate to achieve the country's branding aims to attract tourists and foreign investments.

The branding and logo would bring all things together of Bangladesh's history, culture, tradition, various festivals and all achievements of the country.

'Branding nowadays is a key factor for broadening the image of the country,' special assistant to chief adviser for tourism ministry, Mahbub Jamil, told the inaugural ceremony.

Ramgarh to get land port

The shelved project for setting up a land port at Ramgarh in Khagrachari hill district is likely to be revived as both Bangladesh and India see the port will help boost bi-lateral trade and business.
The hope for revival went high last week when officials from Bangladesh and India visited Ramgarh to asses the prospect of the land port. The project was originally planned for1995, but did not go ahead for reason not known.
But both Dhaka and Delhi are now thinking actively to go ahead with the idea of setting up of the land port, which they think will play an important role in boosting
cross border trade.
The deputy high commissioner of India in Dhaka Ms Mukta Dutta and some high officials from Bangladesh and India last week visited Ramgarh to see how the project would be implemented.
An official of the team told New Age that the envoy found the site, communication and security were suitable for a land port.
With positive recommendation of the team, the land port will be built at Ramgarh, which is close to the Indian sub-divisional town Samrum. A bridge over the Feni river will also be constructed to facilitate hassle-free transportation, the official said.

Travel, tourism fair in October 1-3

The Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh is going to organise a three-day travel and tourism fair at Bangladesh-China Friendship Conference Centre on October 1.
As many as local and foreign travel and tourism-related organisations are likely to showcase their products, meet overseas and local contacts and negotiate business deals at the fair, TOAB president Taufiq Uddin Ahmed said at a press conference in a city hotel on Monday.
The public and privet tour operators and other related organisations of Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal and Bhutan would participate in the fair, Taufiq said.
TOAB will organise the fair in support of Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, GMG Airlines, Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh and Agrabad Accom Consortium Limited.
Biman Bangladesh Airlines’ marketing and sales director Shahnewaj said, ‘Tourism is a major earning sector in many countries. It needs co-operative work of both government and privet organisations to improve this sector.’
The speakers mentioned that the budgetary allocation for tourism sector was insignificant and they expressed their hope that the government would rethink about the matter.
The fair titled ‘Bangladesh Travel and Tourism Fair’ was first held in 2007.

World heritage site left in ruins

Terracotta artefacts at the Paharpur Buddhist Monastery, a world heritage site, are on the verge of ruination due to sheer negligence of the Department of Archaeology.

The Monastery, one of the most important archeological sites in South Asia, was declared as a protected site dates back to 1919 during the British colonial rule.

Custodian of the ancient site Abdul Latif Pramanik said lack of proper maintenance, shortage of manpower, fund constraint, soil salinity and heavy rainfall contributed to the decay of rare terracotta artworks.

“Even the main temple and other artifacts have been eroding day by day due to lack of proper maintenance,” he added.

King Dharma Pal made the temple dates back to 770-810 century AD, according to the archeological documents.

Badrul Alam, field officer of Rajshahi Regional Office in Bogra, said the site was declared as the 'World Heritage Site' in 1985.

“As many as 2305 terracotta plaques were found in 2004,” said Mahabub-ul-Alam, former custodian of the historical site.

A total of 595 terracotta sculptures of the temple completely eroded due to high salinity of the soil, lack of proper maintenance, heavy rainfall and negligence, said a high official of the department.

At least 1810 rare terracotta figures in the storeroom of the site are now a pile of ruins due to lack of preservation, sources said.

Prominent archeologist Sir Alexander Cunningham submitted a report after his visit to the site and other historical sites in India between 1861-1880. He was later made Director General, Archeological Survey India.

Terracotta artworks depicted images of man, women, flowers, and animals but most of the images have already worn away while some rare terracotta plaques are now shrouded in thick cobwebs.

New law to boost tourism

The government is considering approval of the Bangladesh Tourism Ordinance 2008 by June, says Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister GM Quader.

“The government sincerely wants to reform the entire tourism industry, so it can perform as a strong revenue generating sector like in Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. These countries have rapidly changed the face of their economies by exploring tourism,” he tells The Daily Star, at his office.

“The government is set to present the Bangladesh Tourism Ordinance 2008 in the next parliament session by May to reform the entire tourism sector,” he adds.

“The National Tourism Board will be formed on the basis of the proposed tourism law. It was approved with minor modifications in the cabinet meeting at the end of February,” he says. “Now it is a matter of time to enact a new law.”

Quader says the main task of the board would be to develop a public-private partnership to help flourish the sector and encourage local and foreign investment.

He says the responsibilities of the board would include monitoring the performance of the business units run by Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation and also the units that have been leased out to private management companies.

Quader says the National Tourism Board would be an autonomous body. Tourism experts, researchers and stakeholders, from both the public and private sectors, would manage the board.

The board will have representation from different government ministries, such as home, civil aviation and tourism, environment and public works, and various private sector entrepreneurs, including tour operators, travel agencies, transport and guide services, he says.

An executive director would be appointed by the government to oversee the board activities to better the tourism industry.

Under the ordinance, all agencies and enterprises involved in tourism will be mandated to register with the board.

“Registration would be mandatory for all, as it is very important for the government to ensure the quality of services and monitor the performance of all the groups,” says Quader. “Registration will also prevent illegal acts by some fake organisations and prevent any violation of public interest.”

Meanwhile, the government decided to issue on-arrival visas to tourists to encourage more foreigners to visit the country, he says.

“Tourists wiling to visit Bangladesh often face difficulties obtaining a visa. This lack of on-arrival visas ultimately lowers revenue from the tourism industry,” Quader says.

“We discussed early this month the issue of introducing on-arrival visas for foreign tourists at the cabinet meeting. We decided to initiate the system soon,” he says.

The on-arrival visa system would initially be applicable to tourists from 30 countries, including the Saarc nations, he says.

“If we can ease visa complicacies, we hope to increase the number of foreign tourists and revenue from the sector,” he adds.

He says the government is also set to develop a new website that will provide tourists with necessary information regarding tourist spots, accommodation, transport fare and security.

GM Quader admits the tourism sector is deeply problem ridden and needs massive reformation. “Since the beginning, the sector suffers from a lack of planning and adequate funds.”

“In the past, the sector was neglected most of the time. Neither the problems were pinpointed nor any solutions figured out,” he says.

“There are major shortcomings in exploring all the potential tourist destinations. For that, we have to initiate major drives to first identify and then promote the spots,” he tells The Daily Star.

To overcome some of the problems, he suggests, “We need to introduce multi-dimensional tourism by exploring new places with specific drives, such as religion, nature and archaeology.”

This sector also suffers due to a lack of proper infrastructure, he feels.

“The roads and communication systems linking many tourists spots are in disarray. A lack of adequate accommodation and low security measures have also restrained the sector's growth,” he adds.

“Time and budgetary allocations are needed to develop infrastructure,” he says.

Quader, who graduated in mechanical engineering from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology in 1969, says, “It's difficult to overcome all these problems overnight, but we have to overcome them to boost the industry.”

He says bureaucratic problems shadow every decision-making and implementation process, as several ministries are involved.

However, he vows to reduce the bureaucratic difficulties and strengthen communication between different ministries and other related organisations.

He finally urges the media and entrepreneurs for organising campaigns and promotional activities at home and abroad to further develop the sector.