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Sylhet Division

Sylhet Division

ꠍꠤꠟꠐ ꠛꠤꠜꠣꠉ
Map of Sylhet Division
Map of Sylhet Division
Coordinates: 24°30′N 91°40′E / 24.500°N 91.667°E / 24.500; 91.667
Country Bangladesh
 • Total12,298.4 km2 (4,748.4 sq mi)
 • Total12,102,325
 • Density980/km2 (2,500/sq mi)
 • LanguagesSylheti, Standard Bengali
 • Literacy rate98%[1]
Time zoneUTC+6 (BST)
ISO 3166 codeBD-G
HDI (2017)0.558[2]
Notable cricket teamsSylhet Sixers, Sylhet Division

Sylhet Division (Bengali: সিলেট বিভাগ, Sylheti: ꠍꠤꠟꠐ ꠛꠤꠜꠣꠉ), is the northeastern division of Bangladesh, named after its main city, Sylhet. It is bordered by the Indian states of Meghalaya, Assam and Tripura to the north, east and south, respectively; and by the Bangladeshi divisions of Chittagong to the southwest and Dhaka and Mymensingh to the west.

Sylhet is an archaeologically rich region of South Asia, and has a number of Islamic Sufi shrines.


Historians believe that Sylhet was an expanded commercial centre since the ancient period, which explains its original namesake. During this time, Sylhet was probably inhabited by Brahmins, though the population might also have included other contemporary South Asian ethnic groups as well as Arabs, Persians and Turks. It has also been suggested that the Ancient Kingdom of Harikela was situated in modern Sylhet.[3][4]

The 14th century marked the beginning of Islamic influence in Sylhet. During the medieval period, Sylhet was a leading centre of Persian-speaking Muslim missionaries.[5]

A Muslim saint, Shaikh al Mushaek Jalal Uddin, popularly known as Shah Jalal, arrived in Sylhet in 1303 CE from Mecca via Delhi, together with 360 companions and army generals such as Sikander Ghazi, Syed Nasiruddin and Khwaja Burhanuddin Qahafan, who defeated Govinda of Gaur.[6] Sikander Ghazi was the nephew of Sultan Feroze Shah of Delhi. Under the spiritual leadership of Shah Jalal and his 360 companions, the Muslims converted many local Hindus. He died in Sylhet in or around the year 1350 CE. His shrine is located inside the parameter of the mosque complex known as Dargah-e-Shah Jalal.

Shah Jalal remains revered; visitors arrive from all over Bangladesh and beyond to pay homage.[6] Saint Shah Jalal and his companions are credited with converting most of the populace from their earlier beliefs in Hinduism, Buddhism and other religions to Islam. By the 15th century, Sylhet became a centre of the Assam and Bangla languages. In the official documents and historical papers, Sylhet was often referred to as Jalalabad during the era of the Muslim rule.[7]

Sylhet is home to two of the fifty-one body parts of Sati, a form of Goddess Durga, that fell on Earth according to accepted legends. Shri Shail in Jainpur village near Gotatikar in south Surma and Jayanti at Kalajore Baurbhag village of Jaintia are where the neck and left palm of Sati fell on this Earth. In addition, the 16th century Krishna Chaitanya's's ancestral homes are in Golapganj and Habiganj. Hindus believe Chaitanya was a reincarnation of Krishna and will return during the kalijug or end of time.

In the late 18th century, the British East India Company became interested in Sylhet and saw it as an area of strategic importance in the war against Burma. The British gradually absorbed Sylhet under their control, and governed it as a part of Bengal. After the British administrative reorganization of India, Sylhet was incorporated into Assam. It remained a part of Assam for the rest of the era of British rule.

In 1947, following a referendum and the Partition of India, almost all of erstwhile Sylhet became a part of East Pakistan, barring the Karimganj subdivision, which was incorporated into the new Indian state of Assam.[8] The referendum was held on 3 July 1947, there were a total of 546,815 votes cast on 239 polling stations, a majority of 43.8 per cent voted in favour of East Bengal. There were protests regarding bogus votes. The referendum was acknowledged during India's independence celebration on 18 July 1947.[9]Sylhet was known as the Jalalabad district in Pakistan. In 1971, Sylhet became part of the newly formed independent country of Bangladesh.

The Sylhet region has a "friendship link" with the city of St Albans, in the United Kingdom. The link was established in 1988 when the St Albans 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.[10]

According to the St. Albans District Council: the majority of British Bangladeshis are of Sylheti ethnic origin.[citation needed]


The area around Sylhet is a traditional tea growing area. The Surma Valley is covered with terraces of tea gardens and tropical forests. Srimangal is known as the tea capital of Bangladesh; for miles around, tea gardens are visible on the hill slopes.

The area has over 150 tea gardens, including three of the largest tea plantations in the world, both in terms of area and production. Nearly 300,000 workers, of which more than 75% are women, are employed on the tea estates. Employers prefer to engage women for plucking tea leaves since they do a better job than, but are paid less than, men. A recent drought has killed nearly a tenth of the tea shrubs.

The plantations, or gardens, were mostly developed during the British Raj. The plantations were started by the British, and the managers still live in the white timber houses built during the Raj. The bungalows stand on huge lawns. The service and the lifestyle of managers are still unchanged.

Numerous projects and businesses in the city and in large towns have been funded by Sylhetis living and working abroad. As of 1986, an estimated 95 percent of ethnic British Bangladeshis originated from or had ancestors from the Sylhet region.[11] The Bangladesh government has set up a special Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in Sylhet, in order to attract foreign investors, mainly from the UK.

Sylhet has also benefited from Tourism. There are many natural landmarks people tend to visit, such as the Keane Bridge, Amjad Ali Clock, Lalakhal, Jaflong, Lakatura Tea Garden, Madhabkunda Waterfall, Raturgal Swamp Forest, Tilagor Haor, Lawachara, and Bishnakandi. Sylhet is also considered to be the spiritual capital of Bangladesh, due to the resting place of Shahjalal, a Sufi saint who spread Islam in Bangladesh, which is located in the Shahjalal Mazar, along with another well-known disciple of Shahjalal, Shah Poran Mazar and Shahi Eidgah, a famous place where Eid Prayers take place and it is some of the largest Eidgahs in Bangladesh, created by Mughals during the reign of Aurangzeb. There are a number of hotels and resorts. There is also Sreemangal Upazila in Moulvibazar and Bahubal in Habiganj.

Arts and culture

Shaheed Minar replica at Srimongol

Many Sylheti try to marry spouses within the same regional, cultural, social and religious backgrounds.[12] Sylheti people are considered a distinct ethnic group in Bangladesh;[13] They are generally family oriented, follow and support Sylheti community culture, and are more conformist Muslims. These tendencies have led to some rivalry between non-Sylhetis and Sylhetis, due to differences in customs.[14]

Marriages are practiced in a traditional Muslim style, with henna ritual (mehendi), and prayers. Sylheti marriages often include contracts of marriage outlining the rights and obligations of both partners. People in Sylhet often marry partners living in the United Kingdom and the US, of communities originally from the district. Its unique culture and economy, and linguistic differences developed in part because the Greater Sylhet region was a part of Assam and Surma Valley State for about 100 years during the British Raj. There is a considerable flow of foreign currency sent from Sylhetis abroad to family in Bangladesh.[citation needed].


In 1995, Sylhet was declared the 6th division of the country. Prior to that it was part of the Chittagong Division. The Sylhet Division is subdivided into four districts (zillah): Habiganj, Moulvibazar, Sunamganj and Sylhet. Further, the Sylhet Division contains 35 sub-districts (upazila/thana), 323 union parishad, 10,185 villages and 14 municipalities. Population: approximately 10 million, which is less than 7% of the total population of Bangladesh.

Name Capital Area (km2)[15] Population
1991 Census
2001 Census
2011 Census
Habiganj District Habiganj 2,536.58 1,526,609 1,757,665 2,089,001
Moulvibazar District Moulvibazar 2,601.84 1,376,566 1,612,374 1,919,062
Sunamganj District Sunamganj 3,669.58 1,708,563 2,013,738 2,467,968
Sylhet District Sylhet 3,490.40 2,153,301 2,555,566 3,434,188
Total Division Sylhet 12,298.4 6,765,039 7,939,343 9,910,219

Religion and faith

Sylhet is a holy place for both Muslim and Hindus. Historically it is known as the land of 360 awliyas (Muslim saints). Famous religious places include the shrines of Shah Jalal, Shah Farhan (popularly known as Shah Paran), Shah Kamal Quhafa in Shaharpara and Sipahsalar Syed Nasiruddin in Habiganj for Muslims.[16]

Sylhet has the largest concentration of Hindus in Bangladesh and is historically an important centre for believers. It is part of the global Shakti Peethas, holy places of cosmic and enormous power, where Goddess Durga is worshipped. Of the fifty-one body parts of Sati, one form of Durga, that fell on Earth, Her neck fell on the south side of Surma River across the Sylhet town and her left palm fell in Jayanti. In addition, Sri Krishna Chaitnaya Mahaprabhu, the God of all Humanity and who will reappear during the kaliyug or end of time, visited his paternal family home in Thakurbari, Dhakadakshin, Golapganj and his maternal family home in Joypur, Habiganj in Sylhet Division in the 16th century. Hindu temples, such as Shri Chaitanya Dev Mandir in Dhakadakshin, Kali Mandir of Jainpur, Narayan Shiva Mandir of Khasa Pandith Para of BeaniBazar, Sri Mahaprabhu Bigraha Akhra of Jaldhup in Beanibazar, Shakti Piths temple of Kirit Devi Kamala, Bagala Matar Mandir of Habiganj, and Kalibari of Jaintiapur are popular.[17]

Followers of different religions are: Muslim 81.16%, Hindu 17.80%, Christian 0.06%, Buddhist 0.02%, and others 0.96%. There are 7524 mosques, 1070 temples, 65 churches, 2 sacred place, 9 pagodas, 50 tomb.

Sylhet Railway station

Notable personalities




In popular culture

See also


  1. ^ এক নজরে সিলেট বিভাগ. (in Bengali).
  2. ^ "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  3. ^ Dilip K. Chakrabarti (1992). Ancient Bangladesh: A Study of the Archaeological Sources. Oxford University Press. p. 166. ISBN 978-0-19-562879-1.
  4. ^ Syed Umar Hayat (July–December 1996). "Bengal Under the Palas and Senas (750-1204)". Pakistan Journal of History and Culture. 17 (2): 33.
  5. ^ Abu Musa Mohammad Arif Billah (2012). "Persian". In Sirajul Islam and Ahmed A. Jamal. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  6. ^ a b c Abdul Karim (2012). "Shah Jalal (R)". In Sirajul Islam and Ahmed A. Jamal. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  7. ^ Sylhet City. Bangla2000. Retrieved 28 November 2008.
  8. ^ "Karimganj - District in Assam, Indi".
  9. ^ Dewan Nurul Anwar Husain Chowdhury (2012). "Sylhet Referendum, 1947". In Sirajul Islam and Ahmed A. Jamal. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  10. ^ Sylhet, Bangladesh Archived 19 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine.St.Albans District Council.
  11. ^ Gardner, Katy (July 1992). "International migration and the rural context in Sylhet". New Community. 18 (4): 579–590. doi:10.1080/1369183X.1992.9976331.
  12. ^ "September 2006&hidType=HIG&hidRecord=0000000000000000126877 Bangladesh".
  13. ^ "Faith – Bangladeshi London". BBC London. Retrieved 27 May 2005.
  14. ^ Pavla Navrátilová (7 August 2007). "Postcolonial Issues in Monica Ali's 'Brick Lane' (Bachelor Thesis)". MASARYK UNIVERSITY BRNO. Retrieved 29 November 2008.
  15. ^ Sajahan Miah (2012). "Sylhet Division". In Sirajul Islam and Ahmed A. Jamal. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  16. ^ Sylhet Itibritta, Syed Mujtaba Ali
  17. ^ "Bangladesh – The Holy Land of Hindu and Buddhist Pilgrim=". Indo Link.
  18. ^ Kānunago, Sunīti Bhūshaṇa (1988). A History of Chittagong. Dipankar Qanungo. p. 476. OCLC 20170473.
  19. ^ Syed Murtaja Ali, Shreehatte Itibritta
  20. ^ Syed Mujtaba Ali Visva-Bharati
  21. ^ Islam, Tasiqul (2012). "Hasan Raja". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  22. ^ Siddiquee, Iqbal (4 March 2008). "Radha Raman Utshab held in Sylhet". The Daily Star. Retrieved 27 January 2009.
  23. ^ "Documentary on Shah Abdul Karim to be screened at Kolkata". The Daily Star. 26 August 2008.
  24. ^ Zahangir Alom (7 September 2014). "Sunset Of A Music Maestro". The Daily Star.
  25. ^ একুশে পদক পাচ্ছেন সুনামগঞ্জের সুষমা দাস. (in Bengali). 14 February 2017. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  26. ^ "The Graveyard of Salman Shah". The Daily Star. 31 October 2003.
  27. ^ Gayen, Kaberi (20 November 2007). সঞ্জীবদা 'ভুল দরজায়' আর কড়া নাড়বেন না. Prothom Alo (in Bengali). Mahfuz Anam. p. 11.
  28. ^ "'Call The Midwife' Season 4 Premiere: Nurse Barbara Learns About Culture As Cynthia Returns In Sneak Peek [VIDEO]". ENSTARZ.

External links