Bangladeshi

Bangladeshi

At the beginning of winter as lakes, ponds, and lowlands start to dry up, child

Bangladeshi Faces

Bangladeshi Faces

ren play a new

game throwing themselves into the mud, delighting in catching fish with their bare hands. 

 

Jamal lives in a remote corner of Netrokona. Music and drama 

Bangladeshi plays Trumpet

Bangladeshi plays Trumpet

are his life he plays the trumpet, writes plays, and acts in them. Just after the harvest, when people tend to have a little extra

Bangladeshi

Bangladeshi

money, jamal and his troupe are called to different villages to give all night performances. Request range from music to dramatic acts, and the subject are various – myths, historical stories, urban dramas, and others. 

Bangladeshi Children

Bangladeshi Children

 

 

 

 

 

 

We met Hasina Begum one day walking along a street in Banani, a part of the capital city, Dhaka. She smiled and asked where we were going. As she fell into step with us, we asked her a few que

An Ordinary Bangladeshi Women

An Ordinary Bangladeshi Women

stions about her life, her work, her family. We learned the her husband had left her and that she was the sole breadwinner for herself and her five sons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several month later, we again ran into Hasina on her way home from work. She walked along with us, and we talked some more. Later she invited us to meet her children and she her house in Karail, a large slum on the edge of more affluent Banani.

In the context of Bangladesh, Hasinas story is not uncommon. One among the countless faces living on the margins, you could change the name and the person, but the story would be much the same one of going through the trials and tribulations of life.

Bangladeshi Family

Bangladeshi Family

 

The following is an  extract from a series of interviews. We have taken care to maintain the original vernacular and pacing of Hasina spoken words and the flavor they convey.

 

I am 30 and 40 year old.  I don’t know. Maybe you can write 35.  My father used to call me “ Hasmoti’;  He was a farmer. We had enough land to feed us all year. My mother was a housewife. I was the only daughter and I had one brother.

 

Our land was eroded by the river about 15 or 16 years ago.  In Bhairab there is this huge bridge. Our house was near that. The river went thorough our village. It took all our land in about two months. We just kept moving our house until there was nowhere left to move it. After that we moved to Srimongal where My father made money selling candy floss and other small things, and my mother worked in other peoples houses.

Bangladeshi Woman at House hold works

Bangladeshi Woman at House hold works

 

I got married when I was very young, at the age of 9. At that time, my husband was maybe 20. A lot girls get married very young. Some of them are so young that they don’t want to go to their husbands house. Their parents sometimes try to send them by force, sometime even beating them. Some of these girls are scared of their husbands. I was also scared of my husband, so for five years I didn’t go his house. He put up with  a lot. Whenever he came to our house I used to run away and hide. He was a gentleman then, before he came to Dhaka.

 

My parents arranged the marriage.  My father knew my husband because they were from the same village and both were feriwallah (street vendors) in Srimongal. My husband’ s family had also lost their land to the river.

 

Since I was their only daughter my parents did their best fo my marriage.  They did not give any dowry because that system did nt exist then. This system of dowry is a new trend. I am not going to ask for dowry when it comes to my sons. If something belongs to other people, what is the point in being greedy ? when it comes to my sons marriage, whatever the girls family gives, I will be happy with.

I was 13 when I had my first Child.  Now I have five boys aged 3, 5, 9, 12 and 13. I realize it would have been better if I had fewer children. But God didn’t teach me about this before. I didn’t realize that having more children means more suffering. If I had known that I would have stopped after two. Why do you think poor people die ? They die because they have too many children. This is my punishment. I have to share everything between five children. If I had to share it between just two, life would be much easier.

 

After we married we moved to my husband parental home in the village.  He tried to earn a living there, but he couldn’t. We were living in miserable conditions with the children, and my husband said that if he worked in Dhaka, he could make enough to support the whole family. He came here and got a job working in a garment factory as a laborer, loading and unloading. We joined him later. I’ ve lived in Dhaka for about ten years now their husbands house. Their parents sometimes try to send them by force, sometimes even beating them.  Some of these girls are scared of their husbands. I was also scared of my husband, so for five years I didn’t go to this house. He put up with a lot. Whenever he came to our house I used to run away and hide. He was a gentleman then, before he came to Dhaka.

 

My parents arranged the marriage.  My father knew my husband because they were from the same village and both were feriwallh (street wendors) in Srimongal. My husbands family had also lost their land to the river.

A villagers Bangladeshi Girl

A villagers Bangladeshi Girl

 

Since I was their only daughter my parents did their best for my marriage. They did not give any dowry because that system didn’t exist then. This system of dowry is a new trend. I am not going to ask for dowry when it comes to my sons. If something belongs to other people, what is the point in being greedy? When it comes to my sons marriage, whatever the girls family gives, I will be happy with.\

I was 13 when I had my first child. Now I have five boys aged 3, 5, 9, 12 and 13. I realize it would have been better if I had fewer children. But God didn’t teach me about this before. I didn’t realize that having more children means more suffering. If I had known that I would have stopped after two. Why do you think poor People die ? They die because they have too many children. This is my punishmet. I have to share everything between five children. If I had to share between just two, life would much easier.

 

After we married we moved to my husband parental home in the village. He tried to earn a living there, but he couldn’t . We were living in miserable conditions with the children, and my husband said that if he worked in Dhaka, he could make enough to support the whole family. He came here and got a job working in a garment factory as a labourer, loading and unloading. We joined him later. I ve lived in Dhaka for about ten years now.

A Bangladeshi Village child

A Bangladeshi Village child

 

A while after we came to Dhaka he started fighting with me. After a fight he would go out for the night and stay away for a few days. I asked around about why he acted like that and the people who worked with him told me it was because he had another wife and he was staying with her too. When my husband would come home I would ask him where he had been. He say “Its none of your business where I stay. I am providing you with food, shelter and clothes, that’s all you need to know. “ When rich men have money they buy cars. When poor men they buy women.

 

My husband hasn’t divorced me, he just left.  We were married 18 years. A few years ago he married for the fourth time to a woman who worked with him in the garment factory and they moved away from Dhaka. But by the time he married her he had already married there other garment worker too.

Bangladeshi child of villages

Bangladeshi child of villages

 

When he married for the third time, my brother came and tole me about it. When my husband came home I asked him if it was true. He said it was. I asked him why he had married again and he said that it was because the women had promised to give him money in order to send him to a rich country to work. I told him if it is money you married her for, they stay with her. I will stay with my kids and Allah will look after me. After that I went out to look for work.

 

I don’t need a husband.  Now he is trying very hard to come back to me. He sends his friend around, trying to convince me to take  him back, but I don’t want to give him another chance. It would just mean another child after one year, and that would put me into more trouble. I don’t want that. And since he has developed this habit of marriage, I know he well do it again. I am not going to put up with that. I don’t need the pleasure of having a husband around. Its not in my fate.

Bangladeshi Village Girls

Bangladeshi Village Girls

 

I have nobody in this world.  My father died a long time ago. My mother died within forty days of his death. I had only one brother and died of tuberculosis there years ago. I have uncles in the village, but the river has taken their land too, so I don’t want to go back and live with them.

 

I have worked in a house as  a maid for the last 3 or 4 years.  I earn Taka 500 a month and get a meal each day. I go there at 8 am and come back around 5 pm. I get Friday off and I get 2 or 3 days off at Eid. Otherwise, I work the whole year. In this house I cook, I clean, I wash clothes- I do everything. By the time I get home in the evening, I don’t have time to cook, so I bring food for my children from the house where I work.

 

When I am at work my children stay on their own. The eldest two stay out of the house most of the time, and my third son looks after the younger two. I cook in the morning for them before I go out, and they eat later on their own. When I come back, I give them a shower. The neigbours are really helpful- they keep an eye on the children When I am out working.

Bangladeshi Child faces

Bangladeshi Child faces

 

The room we live in is in bad shape. If it rains we cannot sleep. We have to sit and wait for the rain to stop.

 

In the beginning I had problems as a women living on my own.  Now the local people have seen that I am not a bad women, so they don’t brother me. One man who lives in a house near mine is the local thug, a mastaan. He protects me now because he knows we are struggling just to survive. Before that I had to pay the mastaans Taka 100, 200, or 500 a month. Now we don’t have to pay anybody.

 

I never studied at school. Only my eldest son goes to school. I cant afford to send the others, mainly because of money. But even if I could, who would look after the younger ones while I am at work?

 

My children have seen how much I struggle to provide for them.  I don’t know what lies ahead in the future, but if God is merciful enough to let my children live, maybe some day they will work and I will have a better life.

 

Bangladeshi Day Laborer

Bangladeshi Day Laborer

Day labourer haul 50 kg of cement from the barge to shore. The empty cement bags act as protective headgear, and a makeshift mask keeps the cement dust off their faces. They re rapid taka 100-150  for a days work (about US $ 2-3)

 

Locksmith (Mohammad Yousuf) Babul, who came yesterday to unravel the mysteries of metallic security, visited again today. He came with his ancient tin box- rectangular, rusted, and unusually modest in size considering the range of tools it contained. He is a well of information on the range and variety of springs, ball bearings, levers, tensile strength, and why the illusion of security protects even the most insecure.

Bangladeshi Locksmith

Bangladeshi Locksmith

 

His magic box and its contents were only partially visible to me, as if they were the inner sanctum of a sacred temple, where only the most initiated or the special are allowed access. The blackened tin lid lay slightly ajar. I saw inside the box a small metal block that glistened in its shine and experience of use also broken fret saw blades, clamps, cogs, iron files, a hammer, a wrench, a screwdriver, and a soft cotton cloth which he used for his final flourish. These were important talismans, and I treasured their sight and respected the reverence he had for them.

 

Ultimately protection is only microscopic contents in latched drawers of cupboards, door locks that guard a house, security alarms system for entire properties. But what are we really hiding or protecting ? We all know that anyone who really wants  to get in uninvited can do so with the very basic assistance of technology and instrument that break codes, locks, and the law.

Bangladeshi Locksmith 2

Bangladeshi Locksmith 2

 

Nevertheless, I still at the sheer magic and craft with which Babul sang his way into every crevice and tooth of the most minute of locks, the way used the tools from his palette with  swift elegance, the way he admired his results, and his final considered sigh of a well finished task.

There was such grace and humility about him. But he also had the quiet dignity of an artist who practiced  a work that combined aspects of particularly, philosophy and passion. There is a lot one learns from ordinary action, basic grammar that includes the entire construction of life lessons.

 

“ Sheba tooth house: the beat treatment for all kinds of ear and tooth problems is available here”

Bangladeshi Village dentalist

Bangladeshi Village dentalist

  • From the cloth display banner

Mohammad Abul klam was trained as a primary school teacher. For his efforts he earned Taka 60 a month, not enough to support his growing family, so eventually he changed jobs. Working in the madraasa or religious school the he earned taka 120 per month still too little to support his wife and five children. He decided a career change was in order he would become a dentist and ear cleaner.

Bangladeshi pottery

Bangladeshi pottery

Kalam bought a number of instruments for cleaning ears and extracting teeth, among them, several pairs of pillars and a variety of tools madder from bicycle spokes. He had a backdrop painted advertising his skills, and established a stall at the local weekly market in Mohongonj, Netrokona. Now, he makes a much better living.

 

Hindu women in the weavers community have traditionally taken part in every aspect of making fabric, except working the loom. The common belief among Hindus is that if a woman runs the loom, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, will be angry and leave the family’s home. Recently, however, economic concerns have taken precedence over long held beliefs. It is no longer uncommon to find women at the loom.

Bangladeshi Hindu Women at Weavers

Bangladeshi Hindu Women at Weavers

Bangladeshi women at the loom

Bangladeshi women at the loom

 

In the tea gardens, women do the plucking. Men work as guards, laborers and water carriers and they work in the tea processing plants. Pay day means drinks for the men, while for the women it if life as usual taking care of the family.

 

Sugen areng is not easy man to find. Having come across him once before almost by accident, we decided to return to talk with him in greater depth. We crossed the river at Birishiri and, his photo in hand, began asking if anyone knew him and and is so where we could find him. After some time we happened across a couple of Mundee (Garo) women who recognized him. One of them said, “Oh, yes related to Chitto Babu, Ranikang Mission Schoolk’s headmaster, “ and pointed our rickshaw in the direction of his house.

Bangladeshi Tribes

Bangladeshi Tribes

 

We arrived to find that he had gone out for a cup of tea. His nephew offered to go and get him, leaving us sitting on benches in a tidy courtyard bounded on two sides by small straw houses on raised mud platforms. A pig was tethered to a tree nearby, chickens roamed around pecking at the ground, and three kittens played on the verandah of the house. Cotton from nearby trees was left to dry in the sun in a tidy pile in the middle of packed mud courtyard. An old woman, whom we later discovered was Sugen Arengs wife, Came out from around the side of the house and had a look at us, then returned to her housework.

 

A short while later Sugen areng entered between the two houses and ducked into of them to tidy himself. After a few minutes he walked over to where we sat, greeted us, and sat down to talk, our presence nothing special, just another part of his day. He rested his forearms on his knees and listened to our questions, then turning his wrinkled hands with their nubbed ends slowly over one another, he replied, so quietly that we often had trouble hearing what he said.

Bangladeshi Hill tract People

Bangladeshi Hill tract People

 

Sugen Areng is among the last khamals of priests of the Shansharek religion in Bangladesh. These days his services are not much in demand, with 99% of the Mundee people having now converted from Shangsharek of Christianity. He lives in Madhobpur village, several kilometers away from Durgapur in Netrokona district.

 

What follows, is an extract from an interview in Bangla with Sugen Areng. The English translation is meant to retain the original flavor of his speech:

 

These days I have almost no work as a Khamal, since almost everybody has become Christian.  Before I had work every week. Now just once or twice in a year. There are only a couple of people still practicing the old religion, maybe only three or four old people in any village.

 

The conversion started before I was born.  I was born in the year 1317 (Bangla Calendar- this corresponds to 1910 in the Gregorian calendar). At that time there were very few Cristians, almost none. When I grew up a little and cloud understand things I saw a few Christian houses. The Birishiri mission was already there. The Rannikang mission started after I was born. After it was set up, more people started becoming Christian. Gradually, everybody became Christian. Now only the old people are Shangsharek.

 

I don’t know exactly how the Shansarek religion started.  As fas as I know, Shangsharek is our original religion. Our forefathers came from Tibet. But that was a long time ago. I m not exactly sure when. They came down from Tibet to the hills around Chittagong and from there to here. That’s what I know.

 

There are many different gods in the Shangsharek religion.

The one we believe is the greatest and whom we worship and respect most is Shajon. He has a lot of Shisya ( disciples) whom we also worship as gods. They look after different aspects of life like Ragshi, she is the goddess for crops. We pray to her for a good harvest and to protect the crop from insects. We’ll have a puja (prayer) before we go to the field to start sowing the seeds and after the harvest we pray again.  We don’t pray every day. We fix a date and then we tell all the relatives about the date. They come, then we pray. If we

Bangladeshi Hindu and Christian Religious people

Bangladeshi Hindu and Christian Religious people

have any problems, like fever of disease, we set a date and pray then. We believe in Heaven and Hell. Like Cristians, we pray  that when we die we will go to heaven. After death, a Shangsharek person is creamated. Exactly one year later, we invite all our relatives ( for a ceremony) and pray to god for the soul of the dead person. We also believe that if you do bad deeds you will go to hell. We believe all the religions are the same, they just have different names- somebody calls God Shajung, somebody else calls God Allah or Bhagwan.

 

I became a khamal because my grandfather, who was a khamal told me that he had die someday, so I should learn the way to pray. My father was not a khamal. He was a farmer. I studied with my grandfather from 1330 ( Bangla; Gregorian 1923) until his death. In those days the prayers were huge. A lot of people would come all the relatives and all the people from the village it used to be a lot more festive.

 

After us no one will know how to perform the rituals of the shangsahrek religion. The knowledge transferred from one generation to the next is verbal and practical. There is nothing written about how to perform our rituals. And now that all of the next generation has become Christian, who needs to know these things ? I have accepted the fact that that is the way it will be I will take my knowledge with me had no doctor, so we had to rely on herbs to cure ourselves. Now most people don’t want to learn about these things. There is one boy living nearby he sometimes comes to learn these things from me.

 

I get married in 1252 ( Bangla;  Gregorian 1956), when I was 32 years old.  Nowadays people get married at 12, 14, 20,22 but my grandfather strictly forbade me to marry at an early age. He said if I did that I would not live long. My grandfather lived 150 years. He got married at the age of 50. He told me to marry late, saying “ Nafor bashey ghune dhore” – young bamboo attracts termites” That’s why I am still alive.

 

In the Mundee system it has always been that after marriage the boy moves in with the girls family. This is still what happens most of the time, but now a few Christian families want the girl to move in with the boys family after marriage.

 

Property is distributed through the girl children in our culture.  The child who looks after the parents is called the Nakhrom. She is the one who carries the family name. she can be the eldest or the youngest- it doesn’t matter. If there are four daughters, then the property will be divided into five parts. All of the daughters will get one share, and the Nakhram will get her share plus the extra share. I can’t say what  will happen to this system now that most of the Mundee are Cristian. With every marriage we build a new house on the girls parents land, and the married couple lives there.

 

I don’t have any children. I had a son who died when he was 42 or 43 years old. He was a farmer. He went to the market to sell paddy, and there he died of a heart attack. He was never sick before. He has five children. They live with their mother in their maternal grandparents house. Now there’s only us two old people.

 

If the children want to become Christian, they can, and if the parents choose to stay in the old religion that’s their choce. My son became a Christian. I believe its personal choice.  I had no objection he never asked me to become one. Nobody is forcing their beliefs onto others. Religion is something personal. Its got to do with how you feel inside. We all need to pray to something, so people should follow their beliefs, whatever they may be. We still follow our old religion. We have been practicing if for so long that we cant just give it up. What if we fall into some kind of trouble in the afterlife ? we have lived our life believing in this religion. Let us die with the same belief.

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Islam is not the only face of religion in Bangladesh. The minority religious groups- the Hindus, Buddhists and Christian – have more than a visible face. The common Bengali language and culture unifies them and instills a sense of quiet coexistence in spite of the apartment differences between the faiths.


পা বাড়ালে সবদিকেই বাংলাদেশ – বাংলাদেশ গন্তব্যস্থল

পা বাড়ালে সবদিকেই বাংলাদেশ ঃ – এখানে বাংলাদেশ গন্তব্যস্থল গুলো নিয়ে কাব্যিক বর্ণনা দেওয়া হয়েছে।

কুড়িগ্রামের সেই পাড়াগাঁর ভেতরে সমুদ্র আসবে কোথা থেকে? তিস্তা নদীও প্রায় ১০ কিলোমিটার দূরে। কিন্তু এমন শব্দ হচ্ছে যেন বনজঙ্গল ভেঙে বুনো হাতির পাল আসছে। একসময় তা এল বনের ওপর দিয়ে। খোলা ছাদে বাতাস, বিজলি আর বৃষ্টি শরীরের কোষে কোষে ঢুকে পড়ে এমন এক আনন্দ জাগাল, মনে হলো যেন আমিই বিজলি, আমিই বাতাস। আমিই আকুল হয়ে ঝরছি আমার ভেতর।

আরেকবার খুলনার পশুর নদে হঠাৎ আকাশ কালো করে বৃষ্টি এল। ছোট লঞ্চটা দুলছে; বৃষ্টির সাদা পর্দা ভেদ করে ১০ হাত দূরে দেখা যায় না। আর কোনো ঘটনা নেই। ঘণ্টা দেড়েক সেই নদে থাকা যেন এক আত্মা ধুয়ে দেওয়া সুখ। পাহাড়ের মতো মেঘরাশি, নদীর উথালপাতাল ঢেউগুলোর লাফ দিয়ে বৃষ্টিকে ছোঁয়া; এই দেখায় কোনো ক্লান্তি নেই। কিংবা কোনো সন্ধ্যায় বান্দরবানের এক পাহাড়ি নদীর পাশের রেস্ট হাউসে থামা। অমন সন্ধ্যা একা লোকের জন্য মন খারাপের, কেবলই নানান কথা মনে করার; তবু তাতেও আনন্দ আছে। ছাই ছাই অন্ধকারের রহস্যে ডুবে যাওয়ার রোমাঞ্চ আছে। পাহাড়ি নির্জন রাস্তায় হাঁটতে হাঁটতে মনে হতে পারে, আহ্‌, নিজেকে মনে পড়ছে। শহরের ব্যতিব্যস্ততার মধ্যে যাকে হারিয়ে ফেলছিলেন, সেই আপনাকে মনে পড়ছে। নিজের আত্মাটার শুশ্রূষা করার দরকার আছে।

একটা ছবি হিজিবিজি, একটা ছবি টলটলে পরিষ্কার। কোনটা ভালো লাগবে আপনার? টিভির ছবির কথা হচ্ছে না। হচ্ছে মনের ছবির কথা। পৃথিবীর নিকৃষ্টতম শহরে বাস করে উৎকৃষ্ট ভাব অর্জন করা যায় না। ঢাকাবাসীর বেশির ভাগেরই মনের ছবিটা এ রকম হিজিবিজি। প্রতিদিনের ব্যবহারে ব্যবহারে জীর্ণ মনটাকে তাজা করতে প্রকৃতি ও মানুষে ভরিয়ে নিতে হয়। ভ্রমণ সেটা দেয়। দূরে গিয়ে ফিরে পাওয়া যায় নিজেকেই।

তাই মাঝেমধ্যে পলায়ন দরকার। বাঁচতে হলে পালাতে হবে। কোথায়? দেশগ্রাম, পাহাড়, অরণ্য, নদী-হাওর-বিল ও পথে-প্রান্তরে—যেদিকে দুচোখ যায়।

অনেকের কাছে বেড়াতে যাওয়া বিরাট আয়োজনের ব্যাপার। তাঁরা শহরে যা করেন, বেড়াতে গিয়েও ডুবে থাকেন তাতেই। যেতে হলে শহুরে ঠাটবাট অভ্যাস ফেলে যাওয়াই ভালো।

বাংলাদেশ কুয়াকাটা সৈকতে অবাক সূর্যোদয় দেখে এক বন্ধু বলে উঠল, ‘আহ্‌ কী সুন্দর!’ অপর বন্ধুটা সেলফি তুলতে ব্যস্ত ছিল। মোবাইল স্ক্রিন থেকে মুখ তুলে তার জিজ্ঞাসা, ‘কই কই?’

মেঘনার বিশালতা, পাহাড়ের গাম্ভীর্য, সৈকতের সূর্যোদয় কিংবা লাউয়াছড়া বনের পাখির ডাক যাকে দেখিয়ে-বুঝিয়ে দিতে হয়, সে চোখ থাকতেও অন্ধ, মন থাকতেও বিমনা।

পর্যটন এক আধুনিক শহুরে শৌখিনতা। কিন্তু বাংলাদেশের মেট্রোপলিটান নগরের মানুষের জন্য এটা অধিকার। এটা জীবনের প্রয়োজন। তাই সব শ্রেণির মানুষই এখন ঘোরাঘুরির মধ্যে আছে। গ্রামের লোক এখন আকছার বাসভাড়া করে বেড়াতে বের হয়। কেউ যতই স্বদেশের মানচিত্রের স্থানে স্থানে পা ফেলেন, দেশটা তাঁর কাছে ততই বড় ও আপন হতে থাকে। এটাও একধরনের আধুনিকতা। ভ্রমণশীল মানুষের মন উদার হয়। বৈচিত্র্যকে তাঁরা নিতে শেখেন।

আর এর পথ দেখাচ্ছেন আমাদের তরুণ-তরুণীরা। এবারের পর্যটন দিবসে আমাদের বাংলাদেশ পর্যটন দপ্তর অকপটে স্বীকার করেছে, দেশের তরুণেরা দেশের ভেতরেই অজস্র সম্ভাবনাময় পর্যটনস্পট চিনিয়ে দিচ্ছেন। তাঁরা যাচ্ছেন আর ফেসবুকে ছবি দিচ্ছেন। তা দেখে অন্যরাও যাচ্ছেন। এভাবে খুব নীরবে একটা পর্যটন বিপ্লব ঘটে যাচ্ছে দেশময়। এ যেন দেশ আবিষ্কারের নেশা। যেখানেই পা ফেলো, সেখানেই তোমার বাংলাদেশ।

আর বাংলাদেশ এমনই, শত নষ্টের পরেও এখনো অনেক কিছুই আছে। যেকোনো মহাসড়ক থেকে যেকোনো গ্রামের পথে ঢুকলেই বিস্ময় জাগবেই। হয়তো পেয়ে যাবেন বিরাট দীঘির পাড়ে প্রাচীন বটের ছায়ায় লেখা প্রকৃতির ইতিহাস। বিরিশিরি নদী পেরিয়ে গোলাপি চীনামাটির পাহাড় দেখতে যাচ্ছেন। এমন বৃষ্টি এল, গহন এক বাঁশঝাড়ের মধ্যে থামলেন। সেই অন্ধকার বাঁশঝাড় আপনাকে নিয়ে যাবে দুনিয়ার বাইরের এমন এক নির্জনতায়, যেখানে সময় থমকে আছে। যেমনটা হয়তো বোধ হবে বরেন্দ্র এলাকার কোনো মসজিদ বা মন্দিরের চত্বরে দাঁড়িয়ে। সময়হীনতার সেই বোধ দাম দিয়ে কেনা যায় না। দেশ দেখা আর অ্যামিউজমেন্ট পার্কে বেড়াতে যাওয়া এক নয়। সব আনন্দ হুল্লোড় করে হয় না, ট্যুর গাইডের লেজ ধরে পাওয়া যায় না। প্রকৃতির বিশালতা অথবা গ্রামীণ তুচ্ছতার মধ্যেও অগাধ আনন্দের সূত্র লুকানো আছে। একে আবিষ্কার করে নিতে হয়। কে করবে? আমি করব, তুমি করবে, সে করবে!

আর দেশময় ছড়ানো আছে গল্প। মুন্সিগঞ্জের চরে ডাকাতের গল্প, প্রাচীন কোনো জনপদে কেউ আপনাকে শোনাবে অদ্ভুত রূপকথা। কিংবা উপকূলের জেলেদের কাছে জানবেন হাঙরের সঙ্গে, ঝড়ের সঙ্গে লড়াই করার গল্প। সেসব গল্প হার মানায় হেমিংওয়ের ওল্ড ম্যান অ্যান্ড দ্য সি কিংবা জ্যাক লন্ডনের সি উলফ উপন্যাসের দুঃসাহসী নাবিকের গল্পকে। কোনো গ্রামীণ মেলায় এমন গায়ক-গায়িকার দেখা পাবেন, যাঁর প্রতিভা আপনাকে মুগ্ধ করে রাখবে অনেক কাল। আমাদের লোকজ মেলাগুলোতে গ্রামীণ রঙ্গ-রসিকতার বিপুল উৎসব। যে জানে না, সে পায় না।

মানুষ নিজেরাই যখন অভ্যন্তরীণ পর্যটনকে জাগিয়ে তুলছে, তখন সরকার কি দিতে পারে না একটু নিরাপত্তা? বাউফলে নদীতে বেড়াতে গিয়ে মা-মেয়ে ধর্ষিত হবেন কেন? কেন অচেনা জায়গায় ওত পেতে থাকবে বখাটে দুর্বৃত্তের দল। কিংবা জুটি দেখলেই নাক গলাতে আসবে পুলিশ? দেশটা সুন্দর হবে তখনই, যখন নিরাপত্তাটাও থাকবে, ভ্রমণশীল লোকের নিজস্বতাকে সম্মান করা হবে। এটা পর্যটন দপ্তরের ব্যাপার না, এটা স্বরাষ্ট্র মন্ত্রণালয়ের ব্যাপার। এটা জাতীয়ভাবে উন্নত রুচি ও মানসিকতা অর্জনের ব্যাপার। আমাদের বাংলাদেশ হাজার বছর ধরে বিদেশিদের স্বাগত জানিয়ে আসছে। আমরা এতে অভ্যস্ত। কিন্তু অল্প কিছু লোকের জন্য সমাজ সমতলে চলাচলে বাধা আসে। যা স্বতঃস্ফূর্ত তা-ই সুন্দর। পর্যটনকে স্বতঃস্ফূর্ত রাখতে ‘আদেশক্রমে কর্তৃপক্ষ’ বললেই হবে না, দায়িত্বটা পালন করতে হবে।

এশিয়ার মধ্যে সবচেয়ে বেশি নগরায়ণ হচ্ছে বাংলাদেশে। গ্রামদেশ কথাটাই প্রমাণ, দেশ মানেই গ্রাম। নগরদেশ কেউ বলে না। সেই দেশীয় গ্রামীণ আমেজটা বাঁচিয়ে, তার প্রকৃতির স্বভাবে বাধা না দিয়েও তো উন্নয়ন হতে পারে। কিন্তু মহাসমারোহে উল্টোযাত্রা হচ্ছে। বাংলাদেশের বিরল প্রকৃতি ভরে উঠছে বাজারে বাজারে, ভবনে ভবনে। দেশের মুখ ঢেকে যাচ্ছে বিলবোর্ডে। চেনাজানা দেশটা হয়তো আর থাকবে না। সব নষ্ট হওয়ার আগেই একবার দেশটা দেখতে বের হোন, সন্তানকে দেখান, বন্ধুদের দেখান। দেশপ্রেম হাওয়া থেকে আসে না।

যতই দেশটার আনাচকানাচে থাকা জীবন ও রূপ দেখবেন, ততই একে আপন মনে হবে। দেশের মধ্যে দেশের মানুষের ভ্রমণ তাই নিছক পর্যটন নয়। তা দেশে ফেরার শিক্ষাসফরও বটে। পর্যটন কেবল পর্যটনকেন্দ্রের ব্যাপার না, শুধু স্থানকেন্দ্রিকও না। পর্যটন প্রকৃতি, মানুষ ও জীবনের মধ্যে প্রবেশের সদর দরজা। যেতে হলে তাই প্রকৃতির ভেতর দিয়ে যাও, মানুষের ভেতর দিয়ে যাও, সংস্কৃতির ভেতর দিয়ে যাও, জীবন ছুঁয়ে ছুঁয়ে যাও। বাঁচতে হলে তাই মাঝেমধ্যে পালাও।

লেখকঃ ফারুক ওয়াসিফ


নতুন নতুন পর্যটনকেন্দ্র চেনাচ্ছেন তরুণেরা

About Bangladesh Tourism

সিলেটের বিছনাকান্দি কিংবা রাতারগুলের কথা পাঁচ-ছয় বছর আগেও খুব বেশি লোকে জানত না। একইভাবে অপরিচিত ছিল চট্টগ্রামের মিরসরাইয়ের খইয়াছড়া কিংবা শ্রীমঙ্গলের হামহাম ঝরনা। বান্দরবানের রোয়াংছড়ি তিনাপ সাইতার কিংবা রাঙামাটির ধুপপানি ঝরনার কথাও কি খুব বেশি লোকে জানত! কিন্তু এই জায়গাগুলোই এখন তরুণদের বেড়ানোর প্রধান জায়গা।
তরুণেরা দল বেঁধে এখন এসব এলাকায় বেড়াতে যাচ্ছেন। সেখানে তাঁবু খাটিয়ে রাত্রি যাপন করছেন। প্রতিনিয়তই তাঁরা খুঁজে বের করছেন ভ্রমণের নতুন জায়গা। এ যেন বাংলাদেশকে নতুন করে চেনা।

Bichanakandi

Bichanakandi

বাংলাদেশ পর্যটন করপোরেশন, ট্যুরিজম বোর্ড এবং পর্যটন ব্যবসার সঙ্গে জড়িত ব্যক্তিরা বলছেন, এ দেশের সচ্ছল মানুষদের অনেকে বেড়ানোর জন্য সিঙ্গাপুর, মালয়েশিয়া, থাইল্যান্ড বা অন্য কোনো দেশে চলে যাচ্ছেন। আবার অবকাঠামোগত সমস্যা, ভিসা-সংকট, সাম্প্রতিক জঙ্গি হামলাসহ নানা কারণে ২০১৬ সালে বিদেশি পর্যটকদের বাংলাদেশে আসার সংখ্যাও কমছে। কিন্তু এ দেশের তরুণেরা দেশের ভেতরেই নানা জায়গা খুঁজে বের করছেন।
এমন পরিস্থিতিতে সারা বিশ্বের মতো আজ ২৭ সেপ্টেম্বর বাংলাদেশেও পালিত হচ্ছে বিশ্ব পর্যটন দিবস। এ বছর দিবসটির প্রতিপাদ্য ‘সকলের জন্য পর্যটন: সর্বজনীন পর্যটনের অভিগম্যতা’। এ উপলক্ষে সরকারি ও বেসরকারিভাবে নানা কর্মসূচি নেওয়া হয়েছে। ২৯ সেপ্টেম্বর থেকে ঢাকায় শুরু হচ্ছে পঞ্চম এশীয় পর্যটন মেলা।
ফেসবুকে বাংলাদেশে ভ্রমণবিষয়ক অন্যতম প্রধান গ্রুপের নাম ‘ট্রাভেলারস অব বাংলাদেশ’। দুই লাখ সদস্য এখানে নিয়মিত ভ্রমণসম্পর্কিত নানা বিষয় নিয়ে লেখালেখি করেন। প্রকাশ করেন ছবি। সেখানকার সদস্যদের সঙ্গে কথা বলে জানা গেল, কক্সবাজার, তিন পার্বত্য জেলা কিংবা সিলেটের মতো প্রচলিত জায়গাগুলো ছাড়াও রাঙামাটির বিলাইছড়ির ধুপপানি ঝরনা, মুপ্পোছড়া ঝরনা, মিরসরাইয়ের খইয়াছড়া, নাপিত্তাছড়া ঝরনা, বড় কমলদহ এবং ছাগলকান্ধা ঝরনা, খাগড়াছড়ির হাজাছড়া, দীঘিনালার তৈদুছড়া, শ্রীমঙ্গলের হামহাম ঝরনা, সুনামগঞ্জের টাঙ্গুয়ার হাওর, জাদুকাঠা নদী, দোয়ারাবাজারের সোনালীচেলা, টেকেরঘাটের লাইমস্টোন লেক, খাগড়াছড়ির সাজেক ভ্যালি, বান্দরবানের বগা লেক, নীলগিরি, থানচির নাফাখুম, ঢাকার কাছে দোহারের মৈনাকঘাট, সিলেটের জাফলংয়ের সংগ্রামপুঞ্জি ঝরনা, বিছনাকান্দি, রাতারগুল, মায়াবন, বরিশালের শাপলা বিল শাতলা, পিরোজপুরের স্বরূপকাঠির ভাসমান পেয়ারা বাজার, নোয়াখালীর কোম্পানীগঞ্জের মুছাপুর—এসব নতুন স্থানে বেড়াতে যাচ্ছেন তরুণেরা।
বাংলাদেশে ভ্রমণবিষয়ক একটি ক্লাবের প্রতিষ্ঠাতা বিনয় ভ্রদ্র গতকাল বলেন, এখানকার তরুণেরা নতুন নতুন জায়গা খুঁজে বের করছেন। আর অল্প সময়ের মধ্যেই এসব স্থানে বেড়াতে যাচ্ছেন মানুষজন। এভাবেই একের পর এক নতুন স্থান জনপ্রিয় হচ্ছে।
ভ্রমণবিষয়ক আলোকচিত্র সাংবাদিক বিল্লাহ মামুন। তাঁর মতে, তরুণেরা যেসব জায়গায় যাচ্ছেন, অবকাঠামোগত সমস্যা ঠিক করা গেলে সব শ্রেণি-পেশার মানুষ সেসব জায়গায় বেড়াতে যাবেন।
বাংলাদেশ পর্যটন করপোরেশনের জনসংযোগ বিভাগের প্রধান জিয়াউল হক হাওলাদার বলেন, ‘আমরা দেশের প্রায় আট শ জায়গাকে পর্যটন এলাকা হিসেবে চিহ্নিত করেছি। এর মধ্যে চার শ প্রত্নতাত্ত্বিক বা ঐতিহাসিক স্থাপনা আর বাকি চার শ প্রাকৃতিক। এ ছাড়া এ দেশের তরুণেরা নিয়মিত নতুন নতুন জায়গা খুঁজে বের করছেন। সেগুলোও আমরা পর্যটনস্থান হিসেবে যুক্ত করছি। ইতিমধ্যেই সিলেট বিভাগের তালিকা প্রকাশ করা হয়েছে। অন্যগুলোও হবে।’
ট্যুর অ্যাসোসিয়েশন অব বাংলাদেশের (টোয়াব) এবং অ্যাসোসিয়েশন অব ট্রাভেল এজেন্ট অব বাংলাদেশের (আটাব) তথ্য অনুযায়ী, বাংলাদেশের ১৫ থেকে ২০ লাখ লোক প্রতিবছর দেশের বাইরে বেড়াতে যান। এর মধ্যে ভারতে যান পাঁচ থেকে ছয় লাখ পর্যটক। এ ছাড়া দেড় লাখ মালয়েশিয়া, এক লাখ পর্যটক থাইল্যান্ডে যান। ৩০ থেকে ৪০ হাজার পর্যটক যান সিঙ্গাপুরে। এ ছাড়া নেপাল, ভুটান, মালদ্বীপ, ইন্দোনেশিয়া, শ্রীলঙ্কা যেতে অন অ্যারাইভাল ভিসা মেলে বলে সেখানেও যাচ্ছেন পর্যটকেরা।
তবে সেই তুলনায় বিদেশ থেকে পর্যটক আসছেন না। বাংলাদেশ ট্যুরিজম বোর্ড (বিটিবি) ও বাংলাদেশ পর্যটন করপোরেশনের (বিপিসি) তথ্য অনুযায়ী, ২০১০ সালে ৫ লাখ ৩০ হাজার ৬৬৫ জন, ২০১১ সালে ৫ লাখ ৯৩ হাজার ৬৬৭ জন এবং ২০১২ সালে ৫ লাখ ৮৮ হাজার ১৯৩ জন বিদেশি পর্যটক এ দেশে এসেছেন। কিন্তু ২০১৩ সালে দেশে রাজনৈতিক অস্থিরতার কারণে এই সংখ্যা ২ লাখ ৭৭ হাজারে নেমে আসে। ২০১৪ সালের নির্বাচনকে কেন্দ্র করে সহিংসতা এবং ২০১৫ সালের টানা অবরোধের পর ২০১৬ সালে পরিস্থিতি স্বাভাবিক হবে বলে আশা করা হয়েছিল। এ কারণে ২০১৬ সালকে পর্যটন বর্ষ ঘোষণা করে ১০ লাখ বিদেশি আনার লক্ষ্য ঠিক করে সরকার। কিন্তু গুলশানের হলি আর্টিজানে জঙ্গি হামলার পর বিদেশি পর্যটকেরা তাঁদের সফর বাতিল করেন। ফলে এ বছর পর্যটকের সংখ্যা কম হতে পারে বলে আশঙ্কা করছে সরকার। তবে এ বছরের প্রথম ছয় মাসের বিদেশি পর্যটকের সংখ্যা জানাতে পারেনি বিটিবি ও বিপিসি। একইভাবে ২০১৪, ১৫ ও ১৬ সালে কোন দেশ থেকে কত বিদেশি এসেছেন, সে তথ্যও তাদের কাছ থেকে পাওয়া যায়নি।
টোয়াবের সভাপতি তৌফিক উদ্দিন আহমেদ বলেন, ‘বাংলাদেশের অভ্যন্তরীণ পর্যটকের সংখ্যা বাড়লেও বছরে অন্তত ২০ লাখ লোক দেশের বাইরে চলে যাচ্ছেন। কিন্তু সেই তুলনায় বিদেশি পর্যটক বাংলাদেশে আসছেন না। অথচ যত বেশি বিদেশি আসবেন, ততই অর্থনীতি ভালো হবে। কিন্তু বিদেশিদের আনার জন্য যে প্রচার দরকার, সেটি হচ্ছে না। এমনকি ২০১৬ সালকে পর্যটন বর্ষ ঘোষণা করলেও সেই কাজটি হচ্ছে না।’
বিষয়টি নিয়ে জানতে চাইলে বাংলাদেশ পর্যটন বোর্ডের প্রধান নির্বাহী কর্মকর্তা আখতারুজ্জামান খান বলেন, ‘বাংলাদেশে বিদেশি পর্যটকের সংখ্যা ক্রমেই বাড়ছিল। কিন্তু ২০১৩ সালে রাজনৈতিক সহিংসতার কারণে বিদেশি পর্যটক অর্ধেকে নেমে আসে। আমরা ভেবেছিলাম, ২০১৬ সালে পরিস্থিতি স্বাভাবিক হবে। কিন্তু গুলশানের ঘটনা একটা বড় আঘাত। তবে শুধু পর্যটন নয়, সব ক্ষেত্রেই সেটি হয়েছে। তবে আমরা পরিস্থিতি সামাল দিতে পেরেছি। আমরা আশা করছি, ২০১৮ সাল নাগাদ বিদেশি পর্যটকের সংখ্যা ১০ লাখে পৌঁছাবে।’

How can you go to ratarkul:

Just hire a car or micro bus from Khaled rent a car and make your trip done. You can hire a 29 seater tourist bus from us. Please ask for rent.


HISTORICAL DHAKA

HISTORICAL DHAKA:
A MARKET FOR TOURISM

The importance of tourism was formally acknowledged at the XXI United Nations General Assembly meeting when the year 1967 was designated as the International Tourist Year by a unanimous resolution recognising that “tourism is a basic and most desirable human activity deserving the praise and encouragement of all peoples and all Governments”. Tourism creates goodwill and friendship among the nations and their people, tourism contributes to nations’ economies in the way of invisible export earnings; and fosters development by employing people in tourism industry.

Development of tourism infrastructure depends on understanding and identifying the reasons why people travel when some necessity does not compel them to do so. Apart from so many obvious socio- economic factors responsible for shaping the tourism demand curve in general, two basic motivations have been identified by tourism marketologists and leisure scientists who in fact determine the tourist destinations. These motivations are:1

Wanderlust: desire to exchange the known for the unknown, to go and see different places, people and cultures or relics of the past in places famous for their historical monuments and activities.

Sunlust: generates a type of travel which depends on the existence elsewhere of better amenities for specific purpose; It is prominent with particular activities such as sports; and literally with the search for sun.

Beside these two motivations we find another which is more concerned with specific missions, jobs, objectives and less with pleasure and relaxation. The visits are business or official.

Therefore, it is clear that the tourist destinations also vary according to motivational reasons.

Accordingly, it is hypothesised that a region rich in culture and history will attract the wanderlust people while the region with good climate, natural beauties and recreational facilities will attract the sunlust people. The business or official visit in particular, does not encompass any lust.

However, how important is a geographical area as a tourist destination or how much is its potential is determined by three main, factors: attractions, accessibility and amenities. These three factors are considered as the tourist qualities of a destination. The attractions may include climatic, scenic, or historical sites or like sports, exhibitions, festivals, religious congregessions and the like. Accessibility means the developed transport infrastructure and the various media to reach the destination and finally amenities comprise accommodation, catering, entertainment and internal transport and other facilities.

Among the above three factors, the attractions of a particular geographical unit are most important to make it a destination and we call these attractions as the “tourist products”. These products, which can be developed and promoted, are innumerable in number and may vary from one region to other. However, in different studies, it has been seen that along with scenery and landscape, wildlife, natural vegetation, tribal life, sun and beaches, the historical monuments and ruins arc greatly preferred as tourist products by the visitors.
Analysis of Attractions

Dhaka as a Tourist Centre: In the past Sonargaon and later Dhaka were visited by a number of famous travelers like Ibn Battuta (1345), Nicholus Pisento, Lewis Vertomannus (1503), Caesar Frederick (1565), Ralph Fitch, Methold (16th Century), Mandelslo (16th Century), Francois Berneir (1666), Sebastion Manrich (1640).

All the visitors gave vivid descriptions of Dhaka’s society, economy, government, administration, buildings and architecture. However, our intention, in this paper, is not to present and analyse their descriptions but to point out the fact that Dhaka was a place worth-visiting even in the remote past. The people used to visit Dhaka at a time when it was an arduous task roaming around due to lack of transport and communication. What was the motivation to visit Dhaka at that time? We do not know exactly but we can guess that the motivation behind the visits was definitely not the sunlust but the wanderlust. In our opinion, Dhaka still a1tricts the tourists because ii is, as was in the past, the administrative and commercial centre of a region; and it has a rich historical and cultural heritage.

Therefore, in designing the tourism planning of Dhaka city, we should take note of resources of the city which comprise the image of an area in the tourist markets. In other words, except its commercial / and official indispensability, it is rather imperative to study what the city of Dhaka has to sell to the tourists and what needs to be done to develop salability.

We can unequivocally say that the historical remains are the only attractions which can turn Dhaka city into a destination for the wanderlust people. In the following paragraphs we would like to describe briefly the prominent and prospective resources in and around Dhaka that we have inherited from our ancestors.

(1)   The Lalbagh Fort and its Monuments:  The Lalbagh Fort or Fort Aurangabad was started by Prince Muhammad Azam, Viceroy of Bengal and the third son of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1678. His successor Shaista Khan owing to sudden death of his daughter Pari Bibi stopped the further construction of the fort. The Lalbagh Fort is situated in the south-west corner of the city. Besides the decorative walls and gates, a tine masonry tank, an audience hall, a mosque, the tomb of Pan Bib arc important tourist attractions inside the fort.

(2)   Husaini Dalan: Husaini Dalan, the famous Imambara of the Shiah community, a sect of the Muslims is located behind the Dhaka Medical College and Hospital. It was probably built around 1642.

(3)  Bara Katra: Bara Katra, one of the most important remains of the Mughal period, is situated on the north bunk of the Buriganga in Chawk Bazar. Built in 1644 by Abdul Qasim Diwan of Shah Shuja – then Subahdar of Bengal the Katra was so magnificent in its beauty that the inscription states that it puts “High Heaven” to shame. But unfortunately, Bara Katra as now in ruins and the old glory has been lost. Professor A.H. Dani in his hook Dhaka A record of its changing fortunes laments that, “Man, in his neglect, has forgotten the value of magnificence that is his heritage”.

(4)   Choto Katra:  Choto Katra is situated about 200 yards cast of Bara Katra. It was built in 1633 by Shaista Khan.

Both the Bara Katra and Choto Katra are at present unfortunately overcrowded with slums and huts, small factories and merchants’ godowns so that its original grandeur could hardly be seen.

(5)  Hajiganj Fort:  Hajiganj Fort (also called Fort of Khizirpur) is situated at Hajiganj in Narayanganj; then forming the Western Bank of the Sitalakhya.

(6)   Sonakanda Fort: Sonakanda Fort is situated on the eastern bank of the Sitalakhya about a mile further downstream.

Both the foils arc existing in an excellent state of preservation and still bear the memories of the famous Isha Khan and Mir Jumla. The Sonakanda Fort bears the sad memories of Sona Bibi, wife of Isha Khan, who after her husband’s death, heroically carried on the struggle and did not surrender to the enemies of her husband till she ordered the tort of Sonakanda to be burnt to ashes along with herself.

(7)   Zinjira Palace: The Successor of Shaista Khan, Nawab Ibrahim Khan II built the Zinjira palace around 1689-97. It stood on the other side the Buriganga and opposite of Bara Katra which was said to have been connected by a wooden bridge across the river. The palace was surrounded by a moat. Tradition says that it was in this building that the mother (Amina Begum), the aunt (Ghaseti Begum) and the wife (Lutfunnessa) of Sirajuddaula were kept as prisoners and it was from here that they were taken out and drowned at the meeting point of the Buriganga and the Dhaleswari.5

Unfortunately only the ruins of the palace can be seen today.

(8)   Historic Sonargaon:  Sonargaon is about 16 miles north-east from Dhaka. On the south of the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway, about a mile from the turning is the village of Mograpara which contains many old ruins of Sonargaon. Sonargaon, the capital of ancient Hindu Kings, has survived with little of its glorious past. The very name Sonargaon, fading with its ruins, has been so completely forgotten that there is no longer even a village in the neighborhood bearing the name of Sonargaon. The present Painam village has only a few waggling remains of ancient earthworks, bridges, moats and monuments. Today the attractive Painam Township is visited by the tourists on the mistaken assumption that these are the remains of the ancient capital. Painam in fact, was built by wealthy Hindu merchants only at the beginning of the 20th century.

(9)   Ahsan Manzil:  Ahsan Manzil or the Nawab Ban is situated on the northern bank of the Buriganga. The palace was originally built in 1872 by Nawab Abdul Ghani. ‘The old building was reconstructed alter it was heavily damaged by a tornado in 1888. Recently the building has been taken over by the government and extensive renovation work has started. A museum is also planned to he established inside the palace. This palace can be turned into a beautiful tourist spot if a good riverside restaurant is established and a small river cruise programme is introduced.

(10)   Other important buildings:  Among other important buildings of Dhaka the Rose garden, Sutrapur Zamindar Mansion. Sankhanidhi House (especially the Dance Hall), Bhajahari Lodge, Ruplal House are worth noting for their elegance and architectural beauty. However, it is a pity that these elegant buildings are now on the verge of demolition due to settlements of unauthorised squatters, traders; officials mostly lower category staffs, and educational institutions.

These buildings, although not very old to make them historical, should not be allowed to decay due to negligence. It is our responsibility to preserve these buildings for our future generations who would be proud to know of their glorious past by visiting them. After 100 years from now, there would probably be many sky- scrapers in Dhaka city, but not a single enchanting building like Rose garden or Ruplal House.

Beside the above mentioned sites and spots, there are many historical tombs, mausolea, monuments, mosques, and temples in and around Dhaka. We do not underscore their historical value but for our present study we have left them out on the presumption that to the tourists, belonging to different religions, tastes and motivation, these remains may not create equal interest and appeals.
Analysis of Infrastructure

(a)   Transportation:  Of all the necessary infrastructures, transportation requires considerable attention. Without good transport facilities there is simply no tourism. Facilities to move comfortably and at a cheaper rate are essentials for successful tourism.

But unfortunately, we do not have a good transport network for the tourists of Dhaka city who may intend to visit various historical places. If we look into the map (Map I), we see that the main historical monuments and remains of Dhaka city are situated in old Dhaka by the kink of the Buriganga. The roads, lanes and by-lanes of old Dhaka area arc so crowded with traffic that even the residents of other parts of Dhaka city usually avoid a journey through old Dhaka. However, ways should be found out to make the lanes easily accessible by turning them one-way for the traffic. (Many of the ancient cities e.g. Rome and Athens have retained their narrow lanes without causing traffic chaos by developing effective one-way system). A micro-bus service can be developed which will have a route originating from Gulistan, to go to Sadarghat via Nawabpur Road, from there to Lalbagh Fort by touching Ahsan Manjil. Choto Katra and Bara Katra, from Lalbagh fort to Husaini Dalan via Khan Muhammad Mirdha’s Mosque, Dhakeswari temple and from there to terminal point Gulistan. This will help developing domestic tourism.

(b)   Sanitary facilities:  From experience it is seen that the most dreadful job of a tourism manager is to handle hundreds of people arriving at spots and attempting to use eating and sanitary facilities which are inadequate, unhealthy and unhygienic. Therefore, proper sanitary facilities should be made available at all the destinations. A token fee could be charged from the users of such facilities to keep the lavatories clean and fresh. Safe drinking water facilities should also be made available.

For providing eating facilities, beautifully decorated restaurants depicting the same historical architectural style of the monuments where it is located could be built and rented out to private management. Inside the Ahsan Manjil and Lalbagh fort, two such eating places could he easily established.

(c)   Parks and recreation:  Parks are essential part of the total beautification process which provides a breath of fresh air. Steps should be taken up to erect parks in and around the monuments by demolishing the adjacent shabby looking slum houses, godowns, small factories and kutcha markets. Recreation facilities for children could be provided by erecting various sports structures. A river cruise by country boats with safety could be introduced from Ahsan Manjil to Bara Katra covering a sightseeing of Zinjira palace.

 

Dhaka City Monuments

(d)   Security: Security of the tourists is of great importance. Well-disciplined police forces if necessary supported by arms should be posted in all key tourist spots. As a long term tourism development plan, steps should be taken to form tourist police battalion who will he trained up with basic tourism courses, security and safety techniques.

(e)   Education: Mere sight of the monuments does not create any appeal or attraction. There must be trained guides who will describe the history of the monuments and ruins. It is through their description that the history and the structures of monuments would come to life. The Parjatan Corporation (tourist organisation) can develop a course in this regard to produce well-trained guides.

Small Museums, with beautifully arranged exhibits of respective historical places/buildings/monuments, could effectively add more to the interest of the tourists. We find one such museum at Lalbagh fort and the other one is under development inside the Ahsan Manjil. In all such forts and buildings small museums could be useful additions.

(f)   Shopping: Shopping is an important pastime of a visitor. In some countries like Hong Kong, U.A.E., Singapore, shopping is often the single most important activity of a visitor. In India, shopping occupies third in order of preference among the different activities of the visitors.

Many of the traditional home-made consumer products of Bangladesh appeal to the tastes of the visitors. Therefore, small shops of handicrafts could be opened in the spots where space is available (Ahsan Manjil and Lalbagh Fort may be suitable for this purpose).

The infrastructural requirements of a particular historical spot in order to be a successful tourism attraction, as discussed above, are unfortunately absent in Dhaka, Not only do we lack these facilities; we have deplorably failed to protect the historical places due to many reasons. It is surprising that the famous tiara Katra and Chota Katra could not yet be taken over by the Department of Archaeology. Consequently, they are on the verge of ruin having their existence only in printed lines of historical books. Immediate measures under government control can save the historical buildings and be brought to their original shape and architecture. The famous Zinjira Palace has virtually been ruined but the archaeologists say it is still possible to renovate and conserve it if immediately taken over by government. In the same way, the famous Idrakpur fort, which presently being used as official residence of government employees and jail compound, should be preserved in its original form.

The Lalbagh fort has been preserved by the Department of Archaeology. In the same way, the present government has taken steps to renovate and protect the Ahsan Manjil. We feel the government should immediately declare all the historical buildings and monuments as protected properties and the Department of Archaeology should draw up a master plan to renovate and conserve these spots. Only then, we can think of turning these historical spots into tourist resorts, In this process we do not have any alternative choice because we cannot allow these existing historical remains La sink into oblivion.

We have already emphasised that historical remains are the major attractions for the tourists. It is tourism which brings history out of printed pages of books. Tourism gives lire to history. History and tourism go side by side. Preservation of historical remains in Bangladesh is of much importance; because except our glorious historical past, we have in fact nothing to sell to the wanderlust people, keeping these in mind we have some suggestions to capitalise history for the tourist trade:

(a)  Immediate steps should be taken to protect the historical monuments, buildings and spots, and renovate and conserve those.

(b)  Good motorable roads Upto these spots should be constructed and suitable one-way traffic system be introduced to make the famous buildings and monuments of old Dhaka easily accessible.

(c)  Regular bus/minibus/micro-bus services should be introduced to these places.

(d)  Good restaurants and handicrafts shops should be opened in these spots.

(e)  Small museums in some of these important spots should be established and well-trained guides employed to explain their history to the visitors. A token fee could be taken for this purpose from the visitors.

(f)  A beautiful tourist Bus terminal should be built at a convenient place where all package tours for Dhaka will originate from.

(g)  Suitable promotional campaign to motivate our people to visit these important places has to be bunched.

(h)  A high powered committee has to be formed with experts from the Department of Archaeology, Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, Ministries of Finance, Health, Culture, Public Works and other related agencies/departments Lo develop plan and coordinate the activities in order to have control of the historical spots, develop facilitating infrastructure and conserve those with trained manpower.

(i)  The historical remains should be tied up with tourism by developing different itineraries under separate package tour programmes (a tentative proposal is appended).

Furthermore, to project our historical events and traditional life style of Dhaka to the tourists and to our future generation, the following proposals, if materialised, could bring some positive results in this field.

Firstly, in Chawk bazar or in Sakharipatti or in any other suitable place of old Dhaka a particular area should be earmarked to build up an environment in such a way as tourists would suddenly discover something of the 17th Century Dhaka. In many countries these types of tourist villagers are created to demonstrate the kind of life might have been in the past.

If this type of tourist village is difficult to establish in old Dhaka, in our opinion, Painam village near Sonargaon would be most suitable. At Painam, whole area should be reshaped to feature the historical and contemporary artifacts in a museum, making and selling of handicrafts, eating places with the traditional food, Baizi dance in some Nach Ghar, and Hindu and Buddhist religious rites.

Secondly, a light – and – sound show could be arranged probably in Lalbagh fort to project our history in the most attractive manner to the tourists as well as to the people of our country.

In conclusion, it can be said that Dhaka possesses interesting tourist items based on its history. Therefore, there is ample scope to develop these historical sites for the visitors and the historical places, monuments and ruins in and around Dhaka must be taken over by the government and handed over to the Department of Archaeology for their renovation and protection. The infrastructural development should then be planned and executed in a proper way. “Monuments in isolation do not carry any meaning”; therefore, efforts must be made to keep alive Dhaka’s past to its present and future generations through the development of its possibilities for tourism.

 

Appendix: Package Tour Programmes for Dhaka City

INSIDE DHAKA

One day tour programme by mini/micro buses covering following spots: Originating point for all itineraries: Gulistan Bus terminal.

Itinerary: I:

Destination:

(a)  Tipusultan Road via Nawabpur Road to visit Sankhanidhi House and Bhajahari lodge.
(b)  Wiseghat and Farashganj to visit Northbrooke Hall and Ruplal House.
(c)  Sutrapur R.M. Das Road to visit Sutrapur Zamindar Mansion.
(d)   Narinda to visit the famous Rose Garden and then back to Gulistan.

Itinerary: II:

Destination:

(a)   Anglican Church, north of Victoria Park (now Bahadur Shah Park).
(b)   Ahsan Manjil.
(c)   Armenian Church near Mitford Hospital.
(d)   Sitara Mosque at Armanitola Road.
(e)   Dhakeswari Temple.
(f)   Husaini Dalan at Bakshi bazar.

Itinerary: III

Destination:

(a)   Choto Katra
(b)   Boro Katra
(c)   Ahsan Manjil.
(d)   Lalbagh Fort.

Itinerary: IV:

Destination:

(a)   Kawran Bazar Mosque.
(b)   St. Augustian Church.
(c)   Parliament Buildings and Crescent Lake.
(d)   Sat Gumbad Mosque.
(c)   Dara Begum’s Tomb at Lalmatia.

Itinerary: V :

Destination:

(a)   Lalbagh Fort.
(b)   Ahsan Manjil.

Itinerary: VI:

Destination:

(a)   Ahsan Manjil.
(b)   River crossing.
(c)   Zinjira Palace.
AROUND DHAKA CITY

One day and two-day tour programmes:

Itinerary: VII:

Destination:

(a)  Sonargaon.
(b)  Painam village.

Itinerary: VIII:

Destination:

(a)  Sonakanda Fort.
(b)  River cruise.
(c)   Haziganj Fort.

Itinerary: IX: (Two day sightseeing with river cruise)

Destination:

(a)  Sonakanda Fort (night stop-over).
(b)  River cruising to Haziganj fort by country boat.                               (c)  River cruising to Ahsan   Manjil.
(d)  Lalbagh Fort.


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