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|Nickname(s): The Spiritual Capital of Bangladesh, The Holy Land, The Land of 360 Saints, The Home of Saints and Tea Gardens|
|Sylhet City Corporation||9 April 2001|
|Metropolitan city||31 March 2009|
|• Body||Sylhet City Corporation|
|• City Mayor||Ariful Haque Chowdhury (Bangladesh National Party)|
|• Total||26.50 km2 (10.23 sq mi)|
|Elevation||35 m (115 ft)|
|• Ethnicity||94% Sylheti
6% Bishnupriya Manipuri, Khasi and others
|• Languages||Sylheti, local Bengali and English|
|Time zone||BST (UTC+6)|
|Police||Sylhet Metropolitan Police (SMP)|
|International airport||Osmani International Airport|
|Regional Calling code||+880821|
Sylhet // (Bengali: সিলেট, শ্রীহট্ট, জালালাবাদ্; historically Shilahatta; also Jalalabaad) is a major city that lies on the banks of Surma River in north-east Bangladesh. As of the 2011 census, the city has a population of 479,837. It is surrounded by tea estates, sub-tropical hills, rain forests and river valleys; the region is one of the leading tourist destinations in the country. The city has one of the highest literacy rates in the country. Many Sylhetis live abroad, particularly in London of the UK, where they form a prominent community. Sylhet is sometimes called a second London.
Sylhet is a prominent Islamic spiritual centre and home to numerous Sufi shrines. Sylhet has a reputation as the Spiritual Capital of Bangladesh. also recognised as The Holy land of Bangladesh. It hosts the 14th century mausoleums of Shah Jalal and Shah Paran. The Sylhet municipality was constituted during the British Raj in 1867. It was part of the Bengal Presidency and the Assam Province. Upon a referendum, it became part of East Bengal in the Pakistani Dominion after the Partition of British India in 1947. Sylhet became a focal point for Bengali revolutionaries during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. It was the hometown of General M A G Osmani, the Commander-in-Chief of Bangladesh Forces.
The Sylhet Division produces most of Bangladesh's tea yield, fertiliser and natural gas. It is also known for its cane, citrus, timber and agarwood. Sylhet is a major recipient of remittances from the Bangladeshi diaspora, particularly from the United Kingdom. The city is served by the Osmani International Airport. It is connected to the Port of Chittagong by the N2 and the Bangladesh Railway. The Bangladesh-India border in Tamabil is located to the north of the city. Sylhet is also home to the Shahjalal University of Science and Technology. Sylhet has an international cricket stadium, Sylhet Agricultural University, Shahjalal Fertiliser Factory Ltd
- 1 History
- 2 Geography and climate
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Administration
- 5 Economy
- 6 Education
- 7 Culture
- 8 Religion
- 9 Notable personalities
- 10 In popular culture
- 11 Sports
- 12 Transport
- 13 Tourism
- 14 Sister cities
- 15 See also
- 16 References
- 17 External links
Sylhet was an expanded commercial centre from the ancient period, which explains its original namesake. During this time, "Sylhet" was inhabited by Indo-Aryan and Dravidian tribes though ethnically the population would also have traces of Assamese, Arabs, Persians, Chinese and Turks. It has also been suggested that the capital cities of the ancient kingdoms of Harikela, Gaur, Srihatta and port city of Kamarupa were situated in modern-day Sylhet.
In the ancient and early medieval period, Sylhet was ruled primarily by local chieftains as viceroy of the kings of Pragjyotishpur. There is evidence to suggest that the Maharaja Sri Chandra, of northern Bengal, conquered Bengal in the 10th century, although this is a much disputed topic amongst Bangladeshi historians and archaeologists. This was a period of relative prosperity and there is little evidence to suggest this was marred by wars or feuds. Sylhet was certainly known by the rest of India, and is even referred to in the ancient Nath sacred Tantric text, the Shakti Sangama Tantra, as 'Silhatta'. The last chieftain to reign in Sylhet was Govinda of Gaur. Sylhet was previously a kingdom of Nath Shampraday, controlled by the rajas. Nath kingdoms of ancient Sylhet declined and tribal people of mongoloid origin established their chiefdoms in most parts of Sylhet. One of such chieftains was Gobindo of Gaur, commonly known as Gor Gobindo, who was defeated in 1303 by Hazrat Shah Jalal Yamani and his 360 Sufi disciples.
The 14th century marked the beginning of Islamic influence in Sylhet, with the arrivals of Sufi disciples to the region. In 1301, Sylhet was conquered by Shamsuddin Firoz Shah , a Bengali enterprising governor. Sikander Shah rallied his army against Raja Gaur Gobind, because the Raja ordered a man to be killed for sacrificing a cow for his son. But Sikander Shah was defeated by the Raja. A messianic Muslim saint, Shah Jalal, arrived in Sylhet in 1303 from Mecca via Delhi and Dhaka with the instructions for aiding Sikandar Khan Gazi in defeating Govinda of Gaur. Ghazi was the direct nephew of Sultan Firoz Shah of Delhi. Under the spiritual leadership of Shah Jalal and his 360 companions, many people converted to Islam and began spreading the religion to other parts of the country. Shah Jalal died in Sylhet in or around the year 1350. His shrine is located in the north of the city, inside the perimeter of the mosque complex known as Dargah-e-Shah Jalal. Even today Shah Jalal remains revered and visitors arrive from all over Bangladesh and beyond to pay homage. Saints such as Shah Jalal Shah Farhan and Shah Kamal Quhafa were responsible for the conversion of most of the populace from the native religion of Buddhism to Islam. Shortly thereafter, Sylhet became a centre of Islam in Bengal. In the official documents and historical papers, Sylhet was often referred to as Jalalabad during the era of the Muslim rule.
Sylhet continues to have the largest concentration of the Hindu believers with a number of important saints. It is the ancestral home of 16th century Krishna Chaitanya (Mahapravu Sri Chaitanya) in what is now Golapganj upazilla of the district. Besides, Sylhet has two of the seven places in Bangladesh where Sati's body parts are believed to have fallen on Earth from a total of fifty-one. Sati is another form of Goddess Durga. The locations of these fallen body parts are Jainpur village, near Gotatikar in south Surma and Kalajore Baurbhag village in Jaintia upazilla. The associated mandirs attract thousands of visitors from across Bangladesh and abroad. Some of these mandirs, upgraded with public and private partnerships, also have limited accommodations for out of area visitors.
British rule in the Indian subcontinent began in the 18th century. During the period the British East India Company employed Indian lascars which included Sylhetis. In the late 18th century, the company became interested in Sylhet and saw it as an area of strategic importance in the war against Burma. Sylhet passed into the hands of the British in 1765, with the rest of Bengal, of which it formed an integral part until 1874, being included in the Dacca division. In that year it was annexed, together with the adjoining district of Cachar, to the chief-commissionership of Assam which was amalgamated with East Bengal in 1905. Sylhet was gradually absorbed into British control and administration and was eventually governed as a part of Eastern Bengal. In 1778, the East India Company appointed Robert Lindsay as a Collector of Sylhet, who started trading and governing the region, making fortune. He was disregarded by the local Sylhetis and other Muslims. In 1781, a devastating flood struck the region which wiped out crops and killing a third of the population. The locals blamed the British for not preventing the greatness of the event, which led to an uprising, led by Syed Hadi and Syed Mahdi (known as the Pirzada). Lindsay's army was defiant and defeated the Piraza in battle in Sylhet. The numbers of lascars grew during the wars, some ending up on the docks of London and Liverpool temporary, other however established themselves in the communities and married English women. In the next few years during the World War II, many fought in the war and some were serving in ships in poor conditions, which led to many escaping and settling in London, opening Indian curry cafes and restaurants.
After the British administrative reorganisation of India, Sylhet was eventually incorporated into Assam. Eastern Bengal and Assam was a single province after the 1905 Partition of Bengal (from 1905 to 1911). In 1947, following a referendum, almost all of erstwhile district of Sylhet became a part of the new Pakistani province of East Bengal, barring the Karimganj sub-division which was incorporated into the Indian state of Assam. The referendum was held on 6 July 1947, 239,619 people voted to join Pakistan and 184,041 voted to remain part of India. The referendum was acknowledged by Article 3 of the India Independence Act of 18 July 1947. In 1971, Sylhet became part of the newly formed independent country of Bangladesh.
Geography and climate
Sylhet is located at humid subtropical with a predominantly hot and humid summer and a relatively cool winter. The city is within the monsoon climatic zone, with annual average highest temperatures of 23 °C (Aug–Oct) and average lowest temperature of 7 °C (Jan). Nearly 80% of the annual average rainfall of 3,334 mm occurs between May and September., in the north eastern region of Bangladesh within the Sylhet Division, within the Sylhet District and Sylhet Sadar Upazila. The climate of Sylhet is
The city is located within the region where there are hills and basins which constitute one of the most distinctive regions in Bangladesh. The physiography of Sylhet consists mainly of hill soils, encompassing a few large depressions known locally as "beels" which can be mainly classified as oxbow lakes, caused by tectonic subsidence primarily during the earthquake of 1762. It is flanked by the Indian states of the Meghalaya in the north, Assam in the east, Tripura in the south and the Bangladesh districts of Netrokona, Kishoregonj and Brahmanbaria in the west. The area covered by Sylhet Division is 12,569 km², which is about 8% of the total land area of Bangladesh.
Geologically, the region is complex having diverse sacrificial geomorphology; high topography of Plio-Miocene age such as Khasi and Jaintia hills and small hillocks along the border. At the centre there is a vast low laying flood plain of recent origin with saucer shaped depressions, locally called Haors. Available limestone deposits in different parts of the region suggest that the whole area was under the ocean in the Oligo-Miocene. In the last 150 years three major earthquakes hit the city, at a magnitude of at least 7.5 on the Richter Scale, the last one took place in 1918, although many people are unaware that Sylhet lies on the earthquake prone zone of Bangladesh.
|Climate data for Sylhet, Bangladesh|
|Record high °C (°F)||32.3
|Average high °C (°F)||25.2
|Average low °C (°F)||12.9
|Record low °C (°F)||2.4
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||8
As of the 2011 census, the city has a population of 479,837. Together with the metropolitan area it has a population of 2,675,346 as of 2001, constituting 2.06% of the national population. The population growth rate of the city is 1.73%, which has reduced from 1.93% in 1991. As of 2001, It had average literacy rate of 69.73%. The highest literacy rate was 84.24% in Ward 22 and the lowest was 48.15% in Ward 10 (2001). The total number of households in the city was 55,514.
The Sylheti Language is the main language spoken in the city as well as throughout the division, Standard Bengali is written, and spoken too. Other dialects of Bengali are spoken too by migrants, such as Dhakaiya, Chatgaiya, Manipuri and Goalpariya. It is accepted that the Goalpariya dialect of erstwhile Assam actually shares the majority of its features with other Bengali dialects as opposed to Ohomiya/Assamese.
Sylheti attachment to their regional identity also continues in the efforts of many Sylhetis retaining marital relationships within the same regional, social, cultural and religious background. Sylheti people are often considered as a distinct ethnic group in Bangladesh; this is mainly because of racial origin, language differences between the standard Bengali and Sylheti, and they are fiercely protective of their language and ethnicity.
Thousands of Bangladeshi expatriates have origins in Sylhet Division. The largest numbers of people from Sylhet living abroad is in the United Kingdom, with a population of about 500,000 (95% of the Bangladeshi population). Over 200,000 people are Bangladeshi-born, who have migrated to the United Kingdom. They are highly concentrated in the boroughs of East London, having established themselves within the communities, notably in the vicinity of Brick Lane which has been dubbed as Banglatown. Sylheti expatriates are known as "Londoni" in Sylhet. Many have also immigrated to the United States—they are mainly spread out across the country, but have a large concentration in New York City and Hamtramck, Michigan. Many Sylhetis are as well as immigrated to the Canada, France, Australia, Spain, Germany, Sweden and other European countries. Tens of thousands of Sylhetis are also working as guest workers in the Middle Eastern Gulf states.
Sylhet has a "Friendship Link" with the city of St Albans in the United Kingdom. The link was established in 1988 when the District council supported a housing project in Sylhet as part of the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless. Sylhet was chosen because it is the area of origin for the largest ethnic minority group in St Albans. In July 1996, the mayor of Sylhet, Badar Uddin Ahmed Kamran, signed the Twinning accord between Sylhet and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (home to around 55,000 Sylhetis at the time), with the mayor of Tower Hamlets late Albert Jacobs in London. In March 2009, the Mayor of Sylhet, Badar Uddin Ahmed Kamran, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to form another Friendship Link between Sylhet and the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale (home to around 10,000 Sylhetis at present), with the Mayor of Rochdale Cllr Keith Swift at the Sylhet City Corporation
Sylhet consists of 27 wards and 210 mahallas, it is a small city with an area of 26.50 km². The rapid growth and expansion of Sylhet occurred during the colonial period. Sylhet Municipality was established in 1878. A devastating earthquake demolished almost the entire town on 12 June 1897 following which a modern and European model new town was built on the wreckage. Many new roads were constructed in the late 1890s and Sylhet became really connected to the other parts of the country with the establishment of an extension line of Assam Bengal Railway in 1912–15. From the very beginning of the 20th century, the importance of Sylhet increased with the establishment of the tea industry. In the 1950s and 1960s, rapid urbanisation took place in the town, fostered by the expatriate Sylhetis and the process is still ongoing.
On 10 April 2001, Sylhet was changed to a city corporation from a municipal board, and currently the city is administrated by the Sylhet City Corporation. At present, Sylhet is the district-headquarters as well as the divisional headquarters of the districts of Sunamganj, Habiganj, Moulvibazar and Sylhet District. The Sylhet City Corporation is responsible for the services that are provided within the city which includes traffic, roads, garbage collection, water supply, registrations and many others. The corporation consists of the Mayor and 22 other commissioners, and focuses on the development of the city.
Remittance has been the key element of the economic growth of the city and also the region. The money is mainly sent by expatriates of Sylhet living abroad, particularly the United Kingdom, where the majority of the diaspora Bangladeshi community originate from Sylhet. These foreign Bangladeshis are now looking to invest in the city. During the fiscal year of 2005–06, the flow of remittances increased by 25% to $4.8 billion, mostly from expatriates of Sylheti origin living in the United Kingdom with significant contributions from expatriates in the United States'. That amount was expected to increase to $5.5 billion in 2007, with the government's attention toward supervising and monitoring banks. The amount of idle money lying with the commercial banks in Sylhet as deposits is about 6,000 kuti taka, which is not common in the rest of Bangladesh'.
Although Sylhet is a small city in comparison to the capital, it has been transformed drastically over the years. The construction industry in Sylhet is currently booming, with many shopping centres and apartments being built to luxurious standards. It has been described as one of the wealthiest cities in the country . The skyline of the city is mainly dominated by large buildings of western-style shopping malls, which has been the largest investments made by the expatriates. There are many new restaurants and stores, often themed on those found in London, which have been established to cater to the visiting Sylheti expatriate population and the growing Sylheti middle classes. These include, Garden Tower in Uposhohor, the London Mansion, Sylhet Millennium, :Blue Water (named after Bluewater Shopping Complex in the UK), London Fried Chicken (from Perfect Fried Chicken), KFC, and Tescoo (misspelt from the original Tesco). New hotels have been established, the Rose View Hotel in Uposhahar, Grand Sylhet, Excelsior Sylhet, Grand Sultan Tea Resort & Golf, Hotel Nirvana Inn, Hotel Supreme are the five-star hotels in the city.
- Rose View Hotel, Shahjalal Uposhahar.
- Grand Sylhet Hotel, near Osmani International Airport.
- Grand Sultan Tea Resort & Golf in Srimangal
- The Palace Resort & Spa, Bahubal
- DuSai Resort & Spa, Moulvibazar
- Hotel Nirvana Inn, (V.I.P Road) Mirzajungle
- five-star/four-star hotel and resorts;
- Excelsior Sylhet Hotel & Resort
- Hotel Star Pacific, Mazar Gate.
- Hotel Supreme, Mirabazar
- Hotel Valley Garden, Subhanighat
- Hotel Fortune Garden, Naiorpool
- Nazimgarh Garden Resort, Khadimnagar
- Hotel Holy Gate, Mazar Gate
- Hotel Metro International, Dhupadigirpar.
- Hotel La Rose, Mirer Maidan.
Large multinational companies have also started to invest in Sylhet, one of these being HSBC Bank, which started its service in 2006 with 6,000 customers, and opened a customer servjce centre in 2008 in the Upashahar area. The Sylhet area contains several important natural gas fields, Power Plants, which make an important contribution to the energy balance of Bangladesh.
The government has taken steps to create a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Sylhet. It is the first SEZ to be created in Bangladesh, after research conducted showed that the region is the best place, which will protect the human and natural resources, including the infrastructure of foreign investment, and to create strong economic development with domestic and international markets. The new zone only allows public-private partnership, without the interference of government finance. The SEZ was created due to the demands of the British Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce, which is an economic forum of British Bangladeshis. The plan comes as an initiative toward stimulating the ongoing investment that has already taken place in Sylhet as well as providing a basis towards long-term investment to turn Sylhet into a major economic hub.
However, with the growth of new businesses being based in the city, there are criticisms for the lack of sustainability of the economy of the city. There are relatively few industries developed and is also lacking the levels of agricultural production, which is very low in comparison to other districts due to lack of interest in agriculture. Large numbers of remittance and investment is being spent in the city, but the first and second generation British Bangladeshis have not considered whether these investments will create new jobs for the people to create a sustainable developing economy. It has created a prosperity type of society, where school children believe that London will only provide success. Studies have shown that 70% of the community rely on remittance sent from relatives abroad, shopping malls are mainly created because it is recognised as being safe, and these investments may have reached to the point of saturation.
Investments by British Bangladeshis led the way for three additional privately owned airlines, Royal Bengal Airline, Air Sylhet and United Airways, to launch services in 2007. The investment was intended to serve the Sylheti population living in the United Kingdom.
- Royal Bengal Airlines was the first airline to be owned and run by British born Bangladeshis from the Sylhet region of Bangladesh. The airline has been founded on the basis of providing direct flights to Osmani International Airport in Sylhet from the United Kingdom. It also provide many flights in Middle East and other countries.
- Air Sylhet Plc was founded by British Bangladeshi businessmen from the Sylhet region of Bangladesh in early 2007.
- United Airways was founded by British-Bangladeshi few businessman and entrepreneurs from the Sylhet region of Bangladesh in 2005 and launched the lucrative Sylhet- London flight.
- Currently there are various other Domestic Flights that are available for Travelling to Sylhet: NovoAir, US-Bangla Airlines and the Biman Bangladesh Airlines are some of the notable Airlines that are available. If you plan to visit Sylhet then the Airlines would be the best medium of Tranport considering the Duration it takes to reach Sylhet Osmani International Airport.
Business and commerce
There are large shopping malls in the city, cosmetics and confectionery is mainly available in Bondor Bazar, handicrafts and textiles stores can be found in Zinda Bazar, these include the Al-Hamra Shopping City in Zindabazar, Bluewater Shopping Centre, West World Shopping City In Jollarpar Sylhet Millenium, Sylhet Plaza, Shukria Market, London Mension, Kakuli Shopping City and many others. These malls sell many items in particular from a wide range of sarees. Majority of these shoppers are from the middle-class and visiting expatriates.
Restaurants from different types of cuisines are available, such as the KFC, Spicy Restaurant, Mugol Massala, Panshi Restaurant, Palki Restaurant, Pach Bhai Restaurant, Agra Restaurant, Chinese and Thai food is also sold in Hamadan Restaurant or Royal Chef. The cuisine in Sylhet is quite similar to that shared across the country which is rice with chicken or meat curry, it does however have different staples of fish such as the Pabda fish, and the citrus fruit known as shatkora is used for flavour in curries, which is grown primarily in the Sylhet region.
- KFC & Pizza Hut at Barbhunya Bhaban in Zindabazar.
- Sizzling Restaurant at Rose View Hotel
- Paktoon at Rose View Hotel
- Pearl Orient at Rose View Hotel
- Four Season at Rose View Hotel
- Club Royale at Rose View Hotel
- Exotica Restaurant at Hotel Supreme
- Dinette Restaurant at Hotel Fortune Garden
- Silver Palace at Naya Sharak
- Eatopia Restaurant at Barutkhana, Zindabazar
- Chiangmai Chinese Restaurant
- Langthurai Chinese Restaurant, Chawhatta
- Chicken Hut
- Pizza Shop
- Alpine Restaurant at Chawhatta
- Prithiraj Restaurant, Zindabazar.
- Woondal Restaurant at Baruthkhana
- Spicy Restaurant at Zindabazar
- Panshi Restaurant, Zindabazar
- Food Lounge at Zindabazar
- Treat Gallery at Jollarpar
- Bhojon Bari Restaurant, Zindabazar.
- Pachvai Restaurant, Zindabazar.
- Channel S is a Sylheti television channel. The channel has increasingly been providing programs in Sylheti, which is the first channel to do so, the abbreviation of the channel's name S, refers to Sylhet. It recognises that Sylheti is a separate language than Bengali, targeting the majority Sylheti-speaking community. The television station is based at Prestige House in Walthamstow, North East London. It broadcasts programmes in Bengali, Sylheti and a few in English. It is the first Bangladeshi channel to broadcast content in the Sylheti dialect, it has built up a loyal following among the Bangladeshis in the United Kingdom who the majority come from Sylhet. Since the launch of the channel in 2004, there has been bitter rivalry between Channel S and Bangla TV, with Channel S gaining rights to broadcast the Baishakhi Mela. A survey in the UK found Channel S was the most viewed Bengali TV channel in the UK.
- Bangla TV Launched in 1999, Bangla TV was the first Bengali and Sylheti Language television channel in the UK. The channel providing a free-to-air service targeting its programming specifically for the Bengali Sylheti community in the UK.
Sylhet has high rates of Electric power shortage and water shortage. According to the Power Development Board, Sylhet is only receiving 50MW, which is half than the demand of 100MW. The city corporation is also supplying only 22,500 gallons of water, far less than the demand of about 65,000. The major sources of water to the city is the tube wells and the Surma River. There are also high levels of arsenic in the water in Sylhet than in most other regions, this is mainly due to the multiple depth screening in the tubewells. According to the World Health Organization in 1997, about 61% are highly contaminated by arsenic, however in 1999, the percentage of boreholes tested where arsenic levels are above 50 micrograms per litre, was under 25%. There are about 331 registered restaurants in the city, only 15% maintain sanitary facilities and 85% have unhygienic conditions that are unsafe for the public.
There are two public universities in Sylhet, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology
Shahjalal University of Science and Technology is considered one of the best universities in Bangladesh There are some prominent colleges in Sylhet such as MAG Osmani Medical College, Sylhet, Sylhet Engineering College, Sylhet Cadet College, Murari Chand College, and Sylhet Polytechnic Institute.
Sylhet city is served by Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Sylhet. The other notable educational institutions are:-
- Blue Bird High School and College
- Scholarshome, Sylhet.
- Jalalabad Cantonment Public School & College,
- Sylhet Government Pilot School and College
- English Medium British/National Curriculum
- The Khajanchibari International School and College,
- Sylhet Grammar School,
- British Bangladesh International School,
- Sylhet International School and College,
- British Banyan School,
- Sylhet Cadet College
- Sylhet Government Pilot School and College
- Scholarshome, Sylhet.
- Jalalabad Cantonment Public School & College,
- Blue Bird High School and College,
- Shahjalal Jamia Islamia School and College
- Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, (SUST)
- Sylhet Agricultural University
- Metropolitan University, Sylhet,
- Leading University, Sylhet.
- Sylhet International University,
- North East University Bangladesh (NEUB)
- Sylhet University of Engineering and Technology (SUET, Will be upgraded soon)
- Murari Chand University College
- Madan Mohan University College
- Army Institute of Business Administration (AIBA).
- Medical colleges, such as:-
- MAG Osmani Medical College, Sylhet
- Jalalabad Ragib-Rabeya Medical College and Hospital,
- Sylhet Women's Medical College
- North East Medical College
- Durre-Samad Women Medical College
- Government Tibbia College, Sylhet (Unani)
Given its unique cultural and economic development, and linguistic differences (Greater Sylhet region was a part of Assam and Surma Valley State for much of the British Raj in comparison to the rest of Bangladesh), and given that Sylhet has, for most of its recent history, been a region of a larger entity. As so many Sylhetis are resident abroad, Sylhet has a major flow of foreign currency from non-resident Bangladeshis. The major holidays celebrated in Sylhet include traditional and religious celebrations, Muslim festivals of Ramadan and then after, Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha. Cultural or nationalistic celebrations include the Language Movement Day, this is where wreaths are laid at the Shaheed Minar paying tribute to the martyrs, the Bangladeshi Independence Day, Victory Day celebrated with parades by school and academies, and the Pohela Baishakh—celebration of the Bengali New Year. Marriages are practised in a traditional Bengali Muslim style, with the gaaye halud, mehendi art and holy prayers.
The majority of Sylhetis are Muslims (90%), other religious groups include Hindus (8%), and very few numbers of other religions, mainly Buddhists and Christians (less than 2%). The majority of the Muslims are mainly Sunni Hanafi; and there are significant numbers of people who also follow Sufi ideals, the most influential is the teachings of Maulana Abdul Latif who was from the village of Fultoli, Zakigang. He was a descendant of Hazrat Shah Kamal, one of the disciples of Shah Jalal. Research in Bangladesh found that 60% of Sylhetis pray daily as compared to 35% in the whole country.
The most celebrated personalities in Sylhet include Shah Jalal, who was one of the greatest saints in the region, credited for the conversion of people in the Bengal region. His tomb lies in the Shah Jalal Dargah Mazar Sharif in the north, which is still as used as a place of pilgrimage, M. A. G. Osmani was the commander-in-chief of the Bangladesh Forces during the Bangladesh Liberation War, and Abdus Samad Azad, was the first politician from Sylhet to be a member of the cabinet in the government. Sylhet has also influenced much of the music in Bangladesh, notable legends include Hason Raja, Radha Romon and Shah Abdul Karim who have produced Bangladeshi folk music.
- Altaf Husain, first editor of DAWN and Minister for Industries and Natural Resources in the Federal Government of Pakistan
- General M A G Osmani, Supreme Commander of Mukti Bahini, Former Member of Parliament and Minister
- Abdus Samad Azad, first Foreign minister of People's Republic of Bangladesh
- Rear Admiral Mahbub Ali Khan, former Chief of the Naval Staff, former Minister of Telecommunication and Agricultural in People's Republic of Bangladesh
- Shah A M S Kibria, former Finance minister, People's Republic of Bangladesh
- Saifur Rahman, former Finance Minister, People's Republic of Bangladesh
- Humayun Rashid Chowdhury, former president of the United Nations General Assembly and Speaker of Bangladesh National Assembly
- Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, incumbent Finance Minister People's Republic of Bangladesh
- Nurul Islam Nahid, incumbent Minister of Education, People's Republic of Bangladesh
- Dewan Farid Gazi, Bangladeshi politician and former Minister
- Suranjit Sengupta, senior Awami League politician and former Minister
- Shamsher M. Chowdhury, former Foreign Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs from October 2001 to March 2005
- C. M. Shafi Sami, diplomat and politician, Served as Foreign Secretary.
- Nawab Ali Haider Khan was an Indian politician, Born in Prithimpassa Family in Sylhet.
- Nawab Ali Abbas Khan, former President of Chatro League and Member of Parliament
- Satyabrata Mookherjee is a former Indian Union Minister of State and former President of BJP's West Bengal state unit
- Leela Roy was an Indian politician.
- Barrister Abdur Razzaq is Assistance Secretary General of Bangladesh Jamaat-E Islami
- Rushanara Ali, first British-Bangladeshi to be elected as a MP for the British parliament.
- Ajmal Masroor, television presenter, politician and imam
- Lutfur Rahman, the first elected mayor of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets council.
- Mohammed Abdus Salique , Mayor of London Borough of Tower Hamlets (2008–09)
- Murad Qureshi is a labour and Co-operative party politician, and Member of London Assembly
- Cllr Jilani Chowdhury is a British Labour Party politician, councillor for Barnsbury and former Mayor of Islington
- Cllr Dr. Anwara Ali is a British Conservative Party politician, former councillor for Bow West, former Cabinet Member for Health and Well-being in Tower Hamlets and general practitioner in Spitalfields Practice
- Cllr Rabina Khan is a Sylheti-born British writer, politician, councillor for Shadwell, former Cabinet Member for Housing in Tower Hamlets Council, community worker and author of Ayesha's Rainbow
- Cllr Syeda Amina Khatun, MBE is a British Labour Party politician, councillor for Tipton Green in the Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council and Cabinet Advisor for Education
Other notable figures
- Sir Fazle Hasan Abed KCMG, the founder and chairman of BRAC (World's largest NGO)
- Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury, the Former Chief of Bangladesh Army
- Tommy Miah, restaurateur and British-Sylheti celebrity chef
- Anwar Choudhury, British diplomat, the UK Ambassador to Peru
- Shahidun Nessa Rahman, commonly known by her pseudonym Shahida Rahman, is an award-winning English author, writer and publisher. She is best known as the author of Lascar.
- Iqbal Ahmed, OBE, a Sylheti-born British entrepreneur, founder and chairperson of Seamark, Ibco and NRB Bank
- Mahee Ferdous Jalil a Sylheti-born British businessman and founder of Channel S
- Ragib Ali, a entrepreneur, banker, philanthropist and chairman of Southeast Bank Limited, founder of University of Asia Pacific and Leading University
- Enam Ali, MBE, FRSA, FIH a Sylheti-born British businessmen
- Wali Tasar Uddin, MBE, a Sylheti-born British entrepreneur, restaurateur, community leader and humanitarian
- Foysol Choudhury, MBE, a Sylheti-born British businessman and chairman of the Edinburgh and Lothian's Regional Equality Council
- Surendra Kumar Sinha, incumbent and 21st Chief Justice of Bangladesh
- J. R. Mudassir Husain, former Chief Justice of Bangladesh
- Syed A. B. Mahmud Hossain, former Chief Justice of Bangladesh
- Govinda Chandra Dev was a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Dhaka. He was assassinated at the onset of Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 by the Pakistan Army.
- Mohammad Ataul Karim, Provost and Executive Vice-Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
- Jamilur Reza Choudhury, a former Adviser (Minister) to Caretaker Government of Bangladesh (April–June 1996)
- Abed Chaudhury, Bangladeshi geneticist and science writer.
- Jalal Ahmad, architect and General secretary of Institute of Architects Bangladesh and the Vice-president of Commonwealth Association of Architects
- Syed Manzoorul Islam academic, writer, novelist, translator, columnist, critic and a professor of English at University of Dhaka
- Gurusaday Dutt was an Indian civil servant, writer and the founder of the Bratachari Movement in the 1930s.
- Sudhansu Datta Majumdar was an Indian physicist, and faculty member of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.
- Sanjeeb Chowdhury, singer and journalist
- Alaur Rahman, singer, music director and music teacher
- Shuvro Dev, playback singer
- Runa Laila, playback singer
- Subir Nandi, playback singer
- Syed Ahmed, a British TV personality
- Salman Shah, film actor
- Khalil Ullah Khan was a Bangladeshi film and television actor.
- Tapash Baisya, Test and ODI cricketer
- Rani Hamid, Chess master
- Kaiser Hamid, former footballer for Dhaka Mohammedan
- Enamul Haque Jr, Test cricketer
- Nazmul Hossain, Test and ODI cricketer
- Alok Kapali, Test and ODI cricketer
- Rajin Saleh, Test and ODI cricketer
- Abul Hasan, Test and ODI cricketer
- Mokhlesur Rahman Chowdhury, former Minister and a career journalist
- Hassan Shahriar, former president of Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA), Overseas Correspondents' Association Bangladesh-OCAB and Jatiya Press Club, Dhaka
In popular culture
Monica Ali's novel, Brick Lane (2003), explored the British Bangladeshi community in London, who are mostly from Sylhet Division. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2003. It was adapted as a film by the same name, released in 2007.
Cricket is the most popular Sport in Sylhet. Bangladesh Premier League franchise Sylhet Royals are based in Sylhet Stadium (M.A.G. Osmani Stadium), which was built in 1965 and has a capacity of 15,000 spectators. It is mainly used sporting events. The Sylhet Stadium was renovated in 2013 especially to host matches of 2014 ICC World Twenty20. It is situated near lush green tea gardens on the city fringe. In the National Cricket League Sylhet Division has not won any titles however did win in the One-Day Cricket League in 2001–02 season. Notable players from Sylhet who have played for the Bangladesh national cricket team include Rajin Saleh, Enamul Haque Jr, Tapash Baisya, and Alok Kapali. Chess player Rani Hamid was awarded the FIDE Women's International Master (WIM) title in 1985.
The main transport systems used in the city are cycle rickshaws, auto rickshaws (mainly known as baby-taxis or CNGs), buses, mini-buses and cars. There are about 80,000 rickshaws running each day. Bus service prices have increased as of 2008, up to 30% higher, prices ranges from Tk4 to 15.95. The Sylhet Railway Station is the main railway station providing trains on national routes operated by the state-run Bangladesh Railway.
The city of Sylhet is served by Osmani International Airport, located at the north of the city. It is Bangladesh's third busiest airport and became an international airport due to the demand of expatriate Bangladeshis and their descendants from the United Kingdom and the United States. The main frequent airlines of the airport are, Biman Bangladesh Airlines,United Airways (BD) Ltd. and domestic flights with GMG Airlines. The airport received its first international arrival on 3 November 2002, with Biman arriving from Kuwait via Abu Dhabi en route to Dhaka. Work started in 2006 to upgrade the airport to international standards, including a new terminal building, a jetway, a taxiway, and expansion of the runway to accommodate wide-bodied aircraft. It was confirmed that in May 2007, Biman will be operating Hajj flights directly from the airport later in 2007.
Sylhet Division has enormous tourism potential. There is a green carpet of tea plants on small hillocks. Natural reserved forests are great attractions. Migratory birds in winter, particularly in the haor areas, are also very attractive in this area. The major tourist destinations surrounding the city are Jaflong, Sripur, Habiganj, Madhabkunda waterfall, Golapganj Botanical Gardens. Sylhet is only half an hour flight from capital Dhaka and well connected by highways with Dhaka, Chittagong and other major cities. Sylhet has good number of hotels and motels from budget to 5/4/3 star for tourists and visitors.
- Jaflong is a hill station and popular tourist destination in the Division of Sylhet, Bangladesh. It is located in Gowainghat Upazila of Sylhet District and situated at the border between Bangladesh and the Indian state of Meghalaya, overshadowed by subtropical mountains and rainforests. Jaflong is famous for its stone collections and is home of the Khasi tribe.
- Ratargul Swamp Forest is a freshwater swamp forest located in Gowainghat, Sylhet, Bangladesh. It is the only swamp forest located in Bangladesh and one of the few freshwater swamp forest in the world. The forest is naturally conserved under the Department of Forestry, Govt. of Bangladesh.
- Madhabpur lake is a Lake of Srimangal in Moulvibazar,Sylhet. It is one of the most popular Tourist spot in Bangladesh
- Lawachara National Park is a major national park and nature reserve in Bangladesh.
- Jaintapur: Famous for its Megalithic archaeological ruins and only 5 km. from Jaflong. It is a beautiful spot amidst tea gardens. Once this was the capital of Jainta Kingdom at 18th century. The ruined palace of the Kings is adjacent to the local market, however, big number of tourists visit here due to the historical background of Jainta Kingdom.
- St Albans, United Kingdom (friendship link)
- Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale, United Kingdom (Friendship link)
- London, United Kingdom. (Friendship link)
- Birmingham, United Kingdom (Friendship Link)
- New York, United States of America. (Friendship link)
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- Friendship link
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Sylhet travel guide from Wikivoyage