Sylhet Division (Bengali: সিলেট
বিভাগ, pronounced Sileṭ Bibhag), also known as Greater Sylhet or Sylhet
region, is the northeastern division of Bangladesh, named after its main
city, Sylhet. It is bounded by Meghalaya State of India on the north, Tripura
State on the south, Assam State of India on the east and Dhaka division on the
west and Chittagong division on the southwest.
One of the most picturesque and archeologically rich regions in South Asia is the Sylhet Division. Its bourgeoning economy has become a part of the attractions of the region, as landscapes are filled with fragrant orange and pineapple gardens and breathtaking tea plantations. Many Sylhet community members have found work and residence abroad, particularly in the United Kingdom and have been using remittances to fund projects and industries within the Sylhet Division, allowing the export industry and foreign investment sectors to grow.
Districts of Sylhet Division
04 Districts-Sylhet, Maulvi Bazar, Sunamganj, Habiganj
The 14th century marked the beginning of Islamic influence in Sylhet. A Muslim saint, Hazrat Shaikh al Mushaek Jalal Uddin, popularly known as Shah Jalal, arrived in Sylhet in 1303 CE from Mecca via Delhi with 360 Sufi saints and army generals such as Sikander Ghazi, Syed Nasiruddin and Khwaja Burhanuddin Qahtan defeating Govind of Gaur. Sikander Ghazi was the direct nephew of Sultan Feroze Shah of Delhi. Under the spiritual leadership of Hazrat Shah Jalal and his 360 companions the local pagans were brought under control and they began to spread Islam. 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. Even today Shah Jalal remains revered; visitors arrive from all over Bangladesh and beyond to pay homage. Saint Shah Jalal and his companions were responsible for the conversion of most of the populace from their earlier beliefs in Hinduism, Buddhism and Paganism 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.
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. Sylhet gradually was absorbed into British control and administration and was governed as a part of Bengal. After the British administrative reorganization of India, Sylhet was eventually incorporated into Assam. It remained a part of Assam for the rest of the era of British rule. In 1947, following a referendum, 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. 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. However, 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.
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 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. The majority of British Banngladeshis are of Sylhet ethnic origin 
Geography and Climate
Sylhet breaks the repetitiveness of the flat lands in the region with its terraced tea gardens, rolling countryside and exotic flora and fauna. The sounds of the delicate animals that live in the tropical forests, together with the scent of orange groves and pineapple plantations, give Sylhet the most relaxing feeling to its air.
The Sylhet Valley is fed by a pair of beautiful winding rivers named the Surma and the Kushiara, both of which are fed by innumerable hill streams from the north and the south side. The valley is also home to a large number of hoars. These hoars provide sanctuary to the millions of birds that have migrated from the Himalayas to escape to bitter cold of the Siberian winters. Hoars are huge stretches of fertile green land that are transformed into marshy areas during the rainy season.
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, Maulvibazar, 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.
Further information: Culture of Bangladesh, Bengali wedding, and British Bangladeshi
Shaheed Minar replica at Srimongal
Sylheti attachment to their regional identity also continues in the efforts of many Sylhetis to keep marital relationships within the same regional, cultural, social and religious background. Sylheti people are considered as a distinct ethnic group in Bangladesh; They are also generally more family orientated, 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 of customs.
Marriages are practiced in a traditional Muslim style, with henna ritual (mehendi), and prayers. Sylheti marriages often include contracts of marriage outlining both the rights and obligations of both partners. Marriages in Sylhet often take place with partners in the United Kingdom and the US.
Given its unique cultural and economic development, and linguistic differences (Greater Sylhet region was a part of Assam and Surma Valley State for about 100 years during the British Raj in comparison to the rest of Bangladesh), and given that Sylhet has, for much 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 area around Sylhet is a traditional tea growing area. The Surma Valley is covered with terraces of tea gardens and lush green tropical forests. Srimangal is known as the tea capital of Bangladesh and for miles around one can see the tea gardens on the hill slopes.
The area has over 150 tea gardens, including three of the largest tea gardens in the world both in terms of area and production. Nearly 300,000 workers, of which over 75% are women, are employed on the tea estates. Employers prefer to engage women for plucking tea leaves since they do a better job and are paid less than the men. Unfortunately recent drought has killed nearly a tenth of the tea shrubs.
The gardens are relics from the days of the British Raj. The plantations were started by the British and the managers still live in white timber homes as they did in those days. The bungalows stand on huge lawns and the service and lifestyle is pretty much unchanged.
A relatively new area that has come under tea cultivation is the sub-Himalayan terrain of Panchagarh. The soil and climate is highly favorable for growing tea here. In fact this area is contiguous with Assam and Bengal in India, where tea has been grown for decades. Beginning with only 300 acres (1.2 km2) of land in 2000, the cash crop is now being cultivated on over 3,500 acres (14 km2) in Tentulia, Sadar and Atoari upazilas of Panchagarh.
The humus content in the soil here is more than in the traditional tea-growing areas of Sylhet. The tea produced in Panchagarh is supposedly much better in quality than that of Sylhet. Several nurseries have been set up in Panchagarh and Thakurgaon to supply saplings to the tea gardens. Bangladesh exports tea to Pakistan and Russia.
There are large numbers of investments and businesses in the city and in large towns funded by Sylhetis living abroad, in particular by British Bangladeshis, over 95 percent of whom come from this Sylhet region. The Bangladesh government has set up a special Export Processing Zone (EPZ) in Sylhet, in order to attract foreign investors, mainly from the UK.
Religion and Faith
Sylhet is a holy place for both Muslim and Hindus. It is a land of 360 awliyas. Notable Hindu saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited his maternal and paternal family homes in Burunga (Balaganj), Dhaka Dakkhin (Gulapganaj) and Habiganj in Sylhet Division. Famous religious places include, the shrines of Hazrat Shah Jalal (R), Hazrat Shah Farhan (popularly known as Shah Paran (R), Hazrat Shah Kamal Qattani (R) in Shaharpara,Hazrat Sayyed Zakir Shah Fatimi (R) in Turuk Khola of South Surma and Sipahsalar Syed Nasiruddin (R) in Habiganj for Muslims. Hindu temples like Shree Chaitanya Dev Mandir, Kali Mandir of Jainpur, Shakti Piths temple of Kirit Devi Kamala, Bagala Matar Mandir of Habiganj and Kalibari of Jaintiapur are known throughout the Indian Subcontinent.
Followers of Different religions are: Muslim 81.16%, Hindu 17.80%, Christian 0.06%, Buddhist 0.02% and others 0.96%.
Nestled in the picturesque Surma Valley amidst scenic tea plantations and lush green tropical forests, greater Sylhet is a prime attraction for all tourists visiting Bangladesh. Laying between the Khasia and the Jaintia hills on the north, and the Tripura hills on the south, Sylhet breaks the monotony of the flatness of this land by a multitude of terraced tea gardens, rolling countryside and the exotic flora and fauna. Here the thick tropical forests abound with many species of wildlife, spread their aroma around the typical hearth and homes of the Mainpuri Tribal maidens famous for their dance.
The Sylhet valley is formed by a beautiful, winding pair of rivers named the Surma and the Kushiara both of which are fed by innumerable hill streams from the north and the south. The valley has good number of haors, which are big natural depressions. During winter these haors are vast stretches of green land, but in the rainy season they turn into turbulent seas.
These haors provide a sanctuary to the millions of migratory birds who fly from Siberia across the Himalayas to avoid the severe cold there. Sylhet has also a very interesting and rich hilstory, Before the conquest by the Muslims, it was ruled by local chieftains. In 1303, the great Saint Hazrat Shah Jalal came to Sylhet from Delhi with a band of 360 disciples to preach Islam and defeated the then Raja Gour Gobinda.
Sylhet thus became a district of saints, shrines and daring but virile people. Its rich potentialities became easily attractive and the 18th century Englishmen made their fortune in tea plantation. About 80 km. from Sylhet town connected by road and rail, Srimangal, which is known as the tea capital of Bangladesh, is the actual tea center of the area.
Main Tourist Spots in Sylhet Division:
For miles and miles around, the visitor can see the teagardens spread like a green carpet over the plain land or on the sloping hills. A visit to the tea plantation in Sylhet is a memorable experience. Sylhet, the tea granary of Bangladesh, not only has over 150 tea gardens but also proudly possesses three largest tea gardens in the world in both area and production.
Sylhet is the land of Shrine's, natural Hills, forests, beautiful tree plantations and lots of Haors. It is an old city with full of natural beauties. A large number of tourists come every year to visit Sylhet. The main attraction of Sylhet city is the Shrine of Hajrat Shahjalal(R) and Hajrat Shah Poran (R). Shrine of Hajrat Shahjalal (R) is on the top of a hillock (tilla) in Sylhet city. Thousands of visitors are coming everyday in this Shrine. Shrine of Hajrat Shah Paran (R) is eight km far from Sylhet town on the Sylhet-Jaflong road where also thousands of visitors visits this Shrine everyday. Road journey to Sylhet is an wonderful experience through roads running ups and down the hills and green lush tea gardens of nature at its best.
The Shrine of Hazrat Shah Jalal
Shrine of Saint Hazrat Shah Jalal is the most historical interest in Sylhet town. Today, more than six hundred years after his death, the shrine is visited by innumerable devotees of every caste and creed, who make the journey from far away places. Legend says, the great saint who came from Delhi to preach Islam and defeated the then Hindu Raja (king) Gour Gobinda, transformed the witchcraft followers of the Raja into catfishes which are still alive in the tank adjacent to the shrine Swords, the holy Quran and the robes of the holy saint are still preserved in the shrine.
Temple of Sri Chaitannya Dev
About 500 years old famous about 45 km southeast from Sylhet town. The place is revered from being the ancestral home of the famous Vaishnava saint. Yearly fair is organized on the full moon day of the Bangla month Falgun. Hundreds and thousands of devotees from home and abroad attend this colorful fair.
Three kilometers to the northeast of the circuit house, the Shahi Eidgah was built on a hill by the Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb in the 17th century. It looks like a grade fort but is actually meant for Eid congregation-the two biggest Muslim festivals
Gour Gobinda Fort
The Murarichand Government College is situated in a beautiful surrounding on a hilltop. To the northwest of the college lie the remains of King Gour Govinda's Fort.
Jaflong is one of the most attractive tourist spots in Sylhet division. It's about 60 km far from Sylhet town and takes two hours drive to reach there. Jaflong is also a scenic spot nearby amidst tea gardens and rate beauty of rolling stones from hills. It is situated besides the river Mari in the lap of Hill Khashia.
The Mari river is coming from the great Himalayas of India, which bringing million tons of stone boulders with its tide. You can watch the stone collection from the river in Jaflong as well as you can enjoy the boating in the river Mari. Jaflong is totally a hilly area of real natural beauty where hills are greenish with the forests.
Lots of wild animal lives in this forest, so you need to be careful to enter in the forest alone. You can see the lifestyle of Tribe Khashia in Jaflong. If you intend to visit Jaflong it is advisable to start from Sylhet in the early morning so that you can comeback by evening covering the other tourists spots of nearby areas of Jaflong. The other tourist areas nearby Jaflong are Tamabil, Sripur and Jaintapur.
Tamabil is the border area with India and is 05 km before Jaflong. If you intend to visit Shilong of India then you will have to cross this border by completing your customs formalities. To go to India you require valid Visa.
Sripur is another beautiful tourist spot where you can see the waterfall with great tide falling form the hills. Besides the enchanting views of the area, one can also have a glimpse of the waterfalls across the border of India. Very Big stones sometimes are coming in this waterfall in Sripur. After completion of visiting Jaflong and Tamabil you must visit Sripur on the way to go back to Sylhet. It's only 7-8km from Jaflong on the same road to Sylhet a sub road entered into Sripur waterfall. Here you can see the stone collection and orange garden if you go inside Sripur crossing the hills.
Jaintiapur is only 5 km. from Jaflong, a scenic spot amidst tea gardens. At about 35 km. northwest of Sylhet town, linked by rail, road and river is Chhatak, the seat of Assam Bengal Cement Factory, Chhatak is famous for orange garden. After complete Sripur on the way back to Sylhet don't miss to visit Jointika in Jointapur. Jaintapur was the capital of Jainta Kingdome at 18th century. Jainta Rajbari was the palace of Kings of Jainta, it's just adjacent of Jainta Bazar. Though the condition of this king's palace is already damaged enormously but a huge number of tourists visit here due to the historical background of Jainta Kingdom.
A lots of picnic parties goes to Jaintapur forests and also other areas of Jaflong, Sripur and Tamabil to enjoy a full day in the nature. So if you are planning to visit Jaflong you must cover up all these four places at a time and by the evening you come back to Sylhet for your night stay. Generally winter is the best season to visit Jaflong but if you want to enjoy the real beauty of wild waterfall then you should visit Jaflong in Monsoon.
Srimongal is the place of tea gardens, hills and forest areas on the hills. Within your eyesight you will find green throughout. Its is famous for the largest tea gardens of world covered by lush green carpet. One can have a look into the spectacular tea processing at Tea Research Institute. Bangladesh produces and exports a large quantity of high quality tea every year. Most of the tea estates are in Srimongal. It is called "The land of two leaves and a bud".
It is also called camellia, green carpet or Tea Mountain. There are a lot of tea estates including the largest one in the world. The terraced tea garden, pineapple, rubber and lemon plantations from a beautiful landscape. It is known as the tea capital in Bangladesh. Just offer entering into the tea estates the nice smells and green beauty will
Lead you many kilometers away. There are some hotels in Srimongol where you can stay, but if you can manage to stay in the Tea garden that will give you a different type of memorable experience. For that you will have to take the permission from the owner of any tea state
Madhabkunda waterfall is one of the most attractive tourist spots in Sylhet division. Lots of tourists and picnic parties come to Madhabkunda every day for their enjoyment. You can go to Madhabkunda either from Sylhet if you go by road or from Kulaura if you go by train.
From Kulaura rail station its about one hour journey by microbus to Madhabkunda. The journey to Madhabkunda itself is exotic. On the way you can see the greenish beauty of tea garden, the hills and the zigzag road through the hills will increase the joy of your journey. In Madhabkunda you will see the great waterfall - falls of million tons of water form 200ft. height. Big bolder of stones and the black stones in giving a shape of care in Madhabkundu. There is a Parjatan Motel with a good restaurant for accommodation and fooding.
There is also a district council Bunglow for night stay. Here you can enjoy adventurous feelings to stay in a jungle. All you need to have a prior booking for the bunglow from Moulvibazar Zilla Parishad office.
Lawacherra Rain Forest
Lawacherra Rain Forest is one of the important & well-reserved forests in Bangladesh. Here visitor may see gibbons swimming through the trees and birds like bee-eater owls parrot. It is a good habitant of Deer, leopard, wild chicken, squirrel, and python. Don't miss it especially if you are bird watcher. The terrain is hilly and vegetation is fairly thick. Only one rare Chloroform tree of Asia is prime attraction.
Khasia & Manipuri
Khasia & Manipuri is two important ethnic-tribe live here. Manipuri is famous for its rich culture especially for dancing, singing. They are also famous for their traditional weaving. You can buy their handicrafts exquisitely woven woolen. Shawls, Sharee, Napkin, bed-cover and some should a bags. It is known as colorful community. Khasia tribe is famous for their betel leaf cultivation. They make their villages high on hilltop in deep forest and so far from town. It is like "A Piece of Paradise". Certainly it will please you.
Sweetest and best quality pineapples grown here in Bangladesh. Pineapple is really a greatest offer of summer but now it is cultivated round the year. So, you can enjoy the juicy summer fruit in any time coming to its real field.
Handicrafts of Sylhet
Sylhet is well known for its wide variety of exquisite handicrafts. Well-known Sylhet cane products such as chair, table, tea trays, flower vases, bags and the exquisitely designed fine Sital Pati (a kind of mattress having natural cooling effect) are colorful souvenirs.
An interesting feature of Sylhet region is the aboriginal tribes such as the Tipperas, the Monipuris, Khasias and Garos who still live in their primitive ways in the hills, practicing their age-old rites, rituals, customs and traditions. During festivals such as, Rash Leela (Full-moon night in February) and Doljatra, the attractive young girls dressed in colorful robes, dance with the male members of their choice & love. The Monipuris perform their famous dance, based on allegorical love themes of the ancient mythology.
For accommodation at Sylhet town, some reasonably good hotels are available. Rest-house accommodation at Srimangal and other places are also available for tourists.
Sylhet Hotels and Resorts
Hotel Anurag Limited
Dhupadighi Par (North), Sylhet, Bangladesh
Sylhet Sadar, Sylhet 3100
Tel: 0821 717713
Lal Bazar Road, Sylhet.
Puran Lane, Lalbazar, Sylhet
Shahjalal Road, Ambarkhana
Sylhet Sadar, Sylhet 3100
Hotel Dargah View
Tel: 0821-722977; 717066
North Jail Road,Sylhet ,Bangladesh
Hotel Fotune Garden
29/A, Bongobir Road,
Tel : +880-821-715590, 722499
Fax : 880-821-715590
Hotel Golden City
East Zinda Bazar, Sylhet, Bangladesh
Mobile: 01711-449064, 01711-469718
Hotel Garden Inn
Shahjalal Bridge Link Road,
Phone: 0821-814507, 0821-824500-06
Mobile: +88 01711-271185
Ornab-16, Mirer Moidan, Sylhet-3100.
Tel: 0821-810237, 814362
Hotel Hill View
Tamabil Road, Ciknagul, Jointha, Sylhet
Hotel Hill town
Tele Haor, Sylhet
Phone: 718263-4, 716077
Hotel Holy Side
Dargah Road (South), Sylhet,
Tel: 0821-722278-9, 715959,
Fax: 0821-722279, Cell: 01711920774,
Hotel Kaykobad International
Airport Road, Ambarkhana (Point),
Hotel Metro International
Dhupadighi Par (South)
East Bondor Bazar
Sylhet Sadar, Sylhet 3100
Tel: 0821 721143, 01731533733
Fax: 0821 812741
Subhanighat, Sylhet 3100
Surma Market, Sylhet
Mirzajangal, Ramer Digher Par
Sylhet -3100, Bangladesh
Phone: +88 0821 2830576
Fax: +88 0821 2830577
Mob: +88 01711336761
Nazimgarh, Kadimnagar, Sylhet
Tel: (+880-821) 2870338, 2870339
House 7A, Road 41,
Under Private Management
Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, Sylhet,
Tel: 0821-712426, 712426
Airport Road, Amborkhana,
Tel:0821-718309, 715035, 718811
Contact Person: S.K. Ghosh, General Manager
Rose View Complex
( 5 Star Hotel)
Plot # 2, Block #D,
Shahjalal Uposhohor, Sylhet – 3100, Bangladesh
Tel:0821-721835, 2831508-14, 2831516-21
Fax: ++88 (0821) 2830932, 2831516,
Cell: 01711-854560, 011-95-115964
Fazilchist, Sunamganj Road, Sylhet.
Silver Shine Deluxe Hotel
Dhupadighi North, Sylhet, Bangladesh
Jalflong Road, Mirabazar,
Tel: 0821-813168, 813169, 813172, 813173
Web Site: www.hotelsupreme.net
Tel: 0821-718040, (0821) 718685
Hotel Star Pacific
East Dorga Gate, Sylhet, Bangladesh
Tel: +88 0821 2833091 - 94
BCDS Bhaban, Mirboxtula, Sylhet, Bangladesh
Zastat Holiday Resort
Zakaria City, Khadim Nagar, Sylhet
Tel: +88-01713-300072, 01712-639555