by Mahfuzul Haque
Bangladesh, a South-Asian country wrapped up with great streaming rivers, is indeed a land of green and natural beauty. The land possesses the longest sea beach and is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger. Sundarbans is also the biggest mangrove forest in the world. The country, once part of undivided Bengal, is proud of her beautiful heritage and historical relics. Having a population of diverse religions along with tribal people, the land has rich culture and deep-rooted traditions.
Bangladesh has a long past of peace and turmoil, prosperity and destitution. Evidence shows that the country experienced the presence of different nations, like the Mongolians. Then the Aryans came from Central Asia and the Dravidians from Western India in the fifth and sixth centuries BC. The Guptas, Palas, Senas who were Buddhists and Hindus came later to this land. In the 13th century Muslim invaders came and started to reign. After almost 200 years, Europeans such as Portuguese, Dutch, French and British traders came and exerted influence over the region. The British ruled the nation for almost two centuries and in 1947 the country divided into India and Pakistan. After a nine month long liberation war with Pakistan, Bangladesh emerged as an independent nation on the world map in 1971. To experience the diversity of the land anyone is welcome to simply step in.
HOW TO COME IN BANGLADESH
Bangladesh is connected to the international network through services of different national and international airlines. Some of these airlines also have domestic services in the periphery of the country as well.
Qatar Airways, a Qatar-based company, flies to over 100 destinations across six different continents, and is currently operating 11 flights every week from Bangladesh to its hub in Doha.
In the domestic network Regent Airways operates five flights daily to Chittagong, twice daily to Jessore, and once daily to Cox’s Bazar and Sylhet. They are also planning to expand into international operations.
Bangladesh is also connected with services by Jet Airways that connects 24 international destinations. Jet Airways is currently operating 21 flights every week from Dhaka to different international destinations.
Saudi Arabia Airlines
Saudi Arabia Airlines is also operating 11 passenger flights a week between Dhaka and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). During the Hajj season, the airlines generally add extra flights to transport pilgrims from Bangladesh.
A tourist can also come to Bangladesh with United Airways. It has flights in both international and domestic routes. In the international routes it has flights to London, Dubai, Jeddah, Kuala Lumpur, Kathmandu, Kolkata and Bangkok. In the domestic routes it has flights from Dhaka to Chittagong, Sylhet, Jessore, Cox’s Bazar, Rajshahi and Saidpur.
RAK Airways has flight services in Kozhikode, Jeddah, Dhaka, Chittagong, Cairo, Doha, Lahore, Peshawar, Kuwait and Khartoum. The airline offers free parking for passengers who wish to drive to RAK International Airport, 30 minutes away from Sharjah and 45 minutes away from Dubai.
Biman Bangladesh, the national airlines of Bangladesh, has connections to 18 international destinations in Asia and Europe. It also has domestic connections from Dhaka to Chittagong, Sylhet and Cox’s Bazar.
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, offers splendid hospitality. It offers direct flights to Bangladesh in addition to indirect flights on a daily basis.
WHERE TO STAY IN THE CITY
The city has some splendid hotels where a guest can find spectacular arrangements and hospitality.
Pan Pacific Sonargaon Dhaka
The Pan Pacific Sonargaon, a five-star hotel, is located in the centre of Dhaka just 18 kilometres from the airport. The hotel offers world-class hospitality for business and leisure travellers. It has a fully equipped gymnasium, sauna, steam room and massage treatments. It also has an impressive swimming pool. The hotel offers food for different tastes with its food and beverage outlets including Café Bazar, Ciao Bistro, Oriental Jharna, Pool Café and a meeting place Lobby Lounge. It also has an extensive modern hall which can accommodate 1500 guests at a time, dine 800 guests in one sitting and can be divided into three equal parts.
Dhaka Regency is a new-generation business class hotel located on airport road in the capital. It is only a three-minute drive away from the airport. Along with the splendid hospitality, the hotel offers a host of other attractions such as 24-hour multi-cuisine dining, live performance bar lounge, Thai spa centre, health club and a Mediterranean hookah lounge. Dhaka Regency also has a limousine facility, business centre and swimming pool etc.
Ruposi Bangla (formerly Dhaka Sheraton Hotel) is a five-star hotel located in the centre of the capital, just 18 kilometres from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. It offers magnificent hospitality with facilities of shopping, recreation, entertainment and transportation.
Radisson Blu Water Garden Hotel
Radisson Blu Water Garden Hotel Dhaka has a comprehensive range of facilities and amenities. With its magnificent atmosphere the hotel provides guests wireless internet access in public areas, a business centre with board rooms and secretarial services. The hotel also has a pool area and health club.
The Westin Dhaka
Just eight kilometres far from the airport, The Westin Dhaka is a five-star hotel that offers guests homely hospitality. It has the facilities of transportation, business services, entertainment and high speed internet.
Hotel Sarina Dhaka
Hotel Sarina Dhaka is located in Banani of the capital. The hotel features 201 rooms and suites with impressive decoration. Dining outlets include Italian, Indian and international food items. The business centre is available to guests all the time and includes private meeting rooms, satellite video conferencing etc.
Platinum Suites, is located in Banani in the city, only ten kilometres from Shah Jalal International Airport and offers guest splendid hospitality, management and design. In addition to its varied flavour of foods the hotel offers access to fitness centre, limousine service on rental basis etc.
Arunima Countryside & Golf Resort
Arunima Countryside & Golf Resort, an agro-eco-sports & riverine resort, is located in Narail. The resort provides residences with traditional comfort. The beds of this resort are made of wood, bamboo or cane. There are some cottages made of wood known as Chalet. These south faced cottages that have a portion extended on a pond are adventurous places. The resort also has some floating cottages known as ‘Boat House’. It also provides a variety of delicious local and foreign foods. Horse and cart riding facilities are also available, along with a golf course, tennis court and other sports facilities.
THE PLACES A TOURIST CAN VISIT
To enjoy the beauty of the land, a tourist can visit places in Dhaka as well as other locations in the country.
Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, has a long history, heritage and culture of 400 years. Lalbagh Fort, Ahsan Manjil, National Botanical Gardens, Central Shaheed Minar and National Martyr’s Memorial are symbols of some of the history. Muslin is another historical pride of the city. Tourists can buy muslin from Narayangong, an hour drive from the heart of Dhaka. In the city there are some modern entertainment hubs like Nandan Park and Fantasy Kingdom. Nandan Park offers rides like cable car, water coaster, tilt-a-whirl, ice land, musical dancing fountain, wave pool etc.
Sonargaon, the old capital of Bengal, is near Dhaka city and can be visited to relish the history of Bangladesh. It was the subsidiary capital of the Sultanate of Bengal. The tomb of Sultan Ghiasuddin (1399-l409 AD), the shrines of Panjpirs and Shah Abdul Alla and a beautiful mosque in Goaldi village are some of the ancient monuments which are still undamaged.
Mainamati, a place with remnants of Buddhist civilisation, is located in Comilla, 114 kilometres southeast of Dhaka. The place is a treasure trove of early Buddhist culture. It bears the existence of more than 50 ancient Buddhist settlements from the 8th to 12th century AD. The Mainamati site museum has a rich and varied collection of copper plates, gold and silver coins and 86 bronze objects. Over 150 bronze statues (mostly from the monastic cells), bronze stupas, stone sculptures and hundreds of terracotta plaques have been recovered, each measuring an average height of 9 ft and width of 8 to 12 ft.
Cox’s Bazar, the tourist capital of Bangladesh, has the longest unbroken sea beach sloping down to the blue waters of the Bay of Bengal, and is indeed a place to enjoy the spectacular beauty of nature. One can visit a number of other fascinating spots in Cox’s Bazar like Himchhari, Teknaf, Inani beach, Buddhist temple at Ramu and islands such as Sonadia, St Martin and Moheskhali.
Located about 320 kilometres south-west of Dhaka, Sundarbans, the biggest mangrove forest in the world, are criss-crossed by rivers and creeks. Tides flow in two directions within the same creek in this forest, which is also home of the Royal Bengal Tiger. Deer, monkeys and snakes are among other wildlife in this forest.
Ninety two kilometres away from the port city Chittagong, Bandarban is surrounded by green hills, and is the home of tribes like Mogh, Murang, Marma who are famous for their own rituals and culture. The highest peak of Bangladesh Tajingdong is also located in this district.
Rangamati , the other hilly district of Bangladesh, is famous for its beautiful landscape. The tribal life, tribal museum, homespun textile products, hanging bridge are the unique attractions of the place.
In Patuakhali, also known as sea queen, there is a beach where one can enjoy the unique opportunity of seeing both the sun rise and sun set. The beach is located at a distance of 70 km, from the district headquarters.
Kantanagar temple, Dinajpur
The century old Kantanagar temple is located near Dinajpur town, which was built by maharaja Pran Nath of Dinajpur in 1752. The temple is still considered the finest of its type of terracotta, built by local artisans.
Rajshahi, the northern city of Bangladesh, bears the debris of glorious periods of Bengal’s Pala dynasty. It is famous for pure silk and mangoes. Verandra Research Museum at the heart of the city is a home of rich archaeological finds. There are also a number of ancient mosques, shrines and temples in and around Rajshahi.
Mahasthangarh, 18 kilometres north of Bogra town, is the oldest archaeological site of Bangladesh established in 3rd century BC. The historical site is equipped with a fortified oblong enclosure measuring 5000 ft by 4500 ft, with an average height of 15 ft from the surrounding paddy fields. Beyond the fortified area there are several isolated mounds where there are Govinda Bhita Temple, Khodia Pathar Mound, Mankalir Kunda, Parasuramer Bedi and Jiyat Kunda surrounding the fortified city.
Paharpur is an archaeological site located in the greater Rajshahi district. Known as Somapura Mahavira, it was built by the Pala emperor Dharmapala (AD 770-810). The monastery is quadrangular, with a colossal temple with a cross-shaped floor plan in the centre of the courtyard and an elaborate gateway complex on the north. There are 45 cells on the north and 44 in each of the other three sides, making a total number of 177 monastic cells along the enclosure walls on the four sides.
Sylhet, the district of natural beauty, is famous for its tea gardens, orange groves and hills covered with tropical forests and beautiful landscapes. Srimangal in Sylhet, is the main tea centre of the area. The tea gardens are like green carpet over the hilly plains. Sylhet is also known as the land of the famous Muslim saint Hazrat Shah Jalal, the great torch bearer of Islam in the region. The shrine of this great saint is located in Sylhet town. Monipuri, Khasia and Garo tribes live in Sylhet. Sylhet is also well known for its wide variety of exquisite handicrafts of cane and bamboo. Jaflong is also a scenic spot nearby amidst tea gardens and the rare beauty of rolling stones down hills. Other places of interest in Sylhet include Moulvibazar, Janitipur, Madhabakunda and Haripur gas field.
THE SERVICE PROVIDERS
Guide Tours Ltd.
The Guide Tours Limited is a tour operator in Bangladesh that provides services to tourists to visit famous places across the country like in Dhaka city and around places like Mainamati in Comilla, Sonargaon, Manikgong, Munshigonj. It also arranges river cruise on the Shitalakkhya river. It offers tours in Sundarbans through its boats which takes tourists to different fascinating points of the forest. It also provides tour packages to tourist places in North Bengal, Sylhet, Srimongol, Bandarban and to the beaches and islands of the country, through different packages that include food, transport and lodging.
Galaxy Holidays Ltd.
Galaxy Holidays Ltd, a tour operating company, provides services to both inbound and outbound travellers. The operator arranges package tours in famous places in and around Dhaka and tourist spots of North Bengal. It also provides tours to different tourist places in Chittagong, Bandarban, Rangamati. It arranges river cruises in Padma, Meghna and Shitalakkhya rivers. It also arranges tours to Cox’s Bazarh, St Martin, Sonadia, and Moheshkhali island. To enjoy the beauty of Sundarbans, Galaxy Tours arranges visits through its boats to different points of the forest.
Bengal Tours Ltd.
This operator arranges trips to Sundarbans through its boats. Boarding on the boats it is possible to visit Kotka, a wildlife sanctuary of Sundarbans, through small creeks and canals to see the wildlife and feel the forest from very close.
-Article originally published on New Age