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East Bengal
Flag of East Bengal
Map of Pakistan with East Bengal highlighted
Capital Dhaka
Area 144,000 km²
Languages Bengali
Established  August 15, 1947
Abolished October 14, 1955

East Bengal (Bengali: পূর্ববঙ্গ Purbobôngo) was a province in the Dominion of Pakistan, and was in existence from August 15, 1947 to October 14, 1955. It came into being after the partition of Bengal in 1947. It has the same boundaries as erstwhile East Pakistan and the nation of Bangladesh and borders the Indian states of West Bengal, Meghalaya, Assam, Tripura and Mizoram.

Contents

History

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Before 1905

The first instance of the name was during the British rule of India. British governance of large swathes of Indian territory began with Robert Clive's victory over the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj ud-Daulah, at the Battle of Plassey in 1757. The victory gave the British East India Company dominion over Bengal, which became the headquarters of British administration in the sub-continent. After the Indian rebellion of 1857 (known as the "Mutiny"), the British government took direct control away from the East India Co., and established its imperial capital at Calcutta, the city founded by the Company. By 1900, the British province of Bengal constituted a huge territory, stretching from the Burmese border to deep into the Ganges valley.

First Partition (1905-1911)

Map of Eastern Bengal and Assam Province, from Bengal Gazetteer, 1907-9

With the assumption of Lord Curzon to the office of Governor-General of India, British India was finally put under the charge of a man who considered himself an expert in Indian affairs. In 1905, citing various logistical problems associated with administering such the large Bengal province, Curzon carved out the new province of Eastern Bengal and Assam consisting of the state of Hill Tripura, the Divisions of Chittagong, Dhaka and Rajshahi (excluding Darjeeling) and the district of Malda of Bengal province, and also Assam province in its entirety. Dacca was made the provincial capital. The new province had an area of 106,540 sq. miles with a population of 31 million, where 18 million would be Muslims and 12 million Hindus.

Within the scheme of partition, the province of Bengal also ceded to the Central Provinces the five Hindi-speaking states. On the western side it was offered Sambalpur and five minor Oriya-speaking states from the Central Provinces. Bengal would be left with an area of 141,580 sq. miles and population of 54 million, of which 42 million would be Hindus and 9 million Muslims.

While Curzon claimed the action was one merely founded upon administrative principles, the growing nationalist movement, which originated with the educated elite of Calcutta and the Bengali aristocracy, took the action as an attempt to cut off Bengal's majority Hindu intellectual leaders (based in Calcutta) from the majority Muslim agriculturalists of the east, dividing the nationalist movement along lines of class and religion. The partition of Bengal, effected on October 16, 1905, sparked a firestorm in the nationalist movement.

The Muslims in the new province had the impression that a separate region would give them more opportunity for education, employment etc. However, the partition was not liked by the people in the new Bengal province and a huge amount of nationalist literature was created there during this period. Opposition by the Indian National Congress was led by Sir Henry John Stedman Cotton who had been Chief Commissioner of Assam, but Curzon was not to be moved. Later, Cotton, now Liberal MP for Nottingham East coordinated the successful campaign to oust the first lieutenant-governor of Eastern Bengal and Assam, Sir Bampfylde Fuller. In 1906, Rabindranath Tagore wrote Amar Shonar Bangla as a rallying cry for proponents of annulment of Partition, which, much later, in 1972, became the national anthem of Bangladesh.

Due to these political protests, the two parts of Bengal were reunited in 1911. A new partition which divided the province on linguistic, rather than religious, grounds followed, with the Hindi, Oriya and Assamese areas separated to form separate administrative units. The administrative capital of British India was moved from Calcutta to New Delhi as well.

From 1911 to 1947

The Non-cooperation movement, the Revolutionary movement for Indian independence and the Satyagraha movements all had their impact on East Bengal. From the provincial election in 1937 till independence in 1947, a period when the Muslim League was in power (except during December 1941 to March 1943) politics was increasingly characterized by communal violence and polarization.[1]

The Krishak Praja Party led by A. K. Fazlul Huq emerged as the third largest party in the Bengal Legislative Assembly after the elections of 1937. After unsuccessful attempts to form a coalition government with the Indian National Congress, the Krishak Praja Party and the Muslim League formed a government, and A. K. Fazlul Huq became the Chief Minister on April 1, 1937.[2]

On 15 October 1937, at Lucknow, Huq formally subscribed to the Muslim League creed, and urged all the Muslim members of the Bengal Coalition to join the League, and made a strong plea for Muslim unity under the banner of the League. Although Huq did not openly sever his link with the Krishak Praja Party, but without Huq's leadership, for all practical purposes, the party lost its stature as also Fazlul Huq's popularity among the masses began to decline. As the Praja Party dissipated over time, the League found itself without rivals within the government, and the ministry's focus shifted from socio-economic reforms to communal issues.[2]

Huq resigned on 2 December 1941 but was able to form a broad-based progressive coalition government which included the progressive, secular elements of the Praja Party, most Hindu members, including the Bose group of the Congress, and the rightist radicals of the Hindu Mahasabha. The new ministry, known as Shyama-Huq ministry, was commissioned, on 12 December 1941, only after the governor's personal initiative to install a League dominated ministry had failed. After establishing his second ministry, Fazlul Huq campaigned vigorously against the Two Nation Theory[2]

During his second ministry, the rift between Fazlul Huq and the provincial governor Sir John Herbert kept increasing. To enforce his writ, the governor asked Huq to sign a prepared letter of resignation on 28 March 1943 and assigned himself the responsibility of administering the province.[2] On 24 April 1943 a Muslim League dominated ministry was commissioned with Khawaja Nazimuddin as the Chief Minister. This Cabinet was dissolved on 28 March 1945.[3]

Provincial elections were again held in 1946 and on July 3, 1946 the Muslim League formed the provincial government in Bengal with Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy as the Chief Minister.[4] Under Suhrawardy's direction, the Bengal Government declared August 16, 1946 to be a public holiday to celebrate the Direct Action Day called by Jinnah to protest against the Cabinet Mission plan for the independence of India.

Suhrawardy's government allegedly provided support to Muslim League mobs who attacked Hindus en masse to press their demand for Pakistan. The intensity of Direct Action Day was at its worst in the capital Calcutta. There was also a genocide of Bengali Hindus in the Noakhali district. Suhrawardy was widely blamed for either orchestrating or not taking steps to prevent the carnage and for trying to suppress the news of the same from the media. The physical and emotional scars of Direct Action Day linger among millions of Bengalis even today.[5] Suhrawardy remained in power till the eve of the partition of Bengal.[4]

Second partition (1947)

The second partition of Bengal, part of the partition of India, was done according to what has come to be known as the 3 June Plan or Mountbatten Plan. As per the plan, on 20 June 1947, the notionally divided Bengal Legislative Assembly voted to divide the province, setting the stage for the creation of West Bengal as a province of the Union of India and East Bengal as a province of the Dominion of Pakistan.[6]

Also in accordance with the Mountbatten Plan, in a referendum held on 7 July, the electorate of Sylhet gave a verdict in favor of joining East Bengal. Further, the Boundary Commission headed by Sir Cyril Radcliffe decided on the territorial demarcation between the two newly created provinces. The power was finally officially transferred to Pakistan and India on 14 and 15 August, respectively, under the Indian Independence Act, 1947.[6]

After 1947

With the partition of 1947, East Bengal became a province of the Dominion of Pakistan. The Muslim League formed the provincial government and on August 15, 1947, Khawaja Nazimuddin became the first Chief Minister of East Bengal. The Muslim League held on to power till April 3, 1954. Post-independence politics in East Bengal was characterized by the struggle for power between the Muslim League and the Sramik-Krishak Dal and the emergence of the Bengali Language Movement.

Tensions between East Bengal and the western wing of Pakistan led to the One-Unit policy. In 1955, most of the western wing was combined to form a new West Pakistan province while East Bengal became the new province of East Pakistan. This system lasted until 1971 when East Pakistan declared independence during the Liberation War of Bangladesh and the new nation of Bangladesh was formed. However Pakistan did not recognize Bangladesh until 1974, and diplomatic relations were established in 1976.

Government

After absorption into the Dominion of Pakistan, the province of East Bengal was administered by a ceremonial Governor and an indirectly-elected Chief Minister. During the year from May 1954 to August 1955, executive powers were exercised by the Governor and there was no Chief Minister.

Tenure Governor of East Bengal[7]
15 August 1947 - 31 March 1950 Sir Frederick Chalmers
31 March 1950 - 31 March 1953 Sir Feroz Khan Noon
31 March 1953 - 29 May 1954 Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman
29 May 1954 - May 1955 Iskandar Ali Mirza
May 1955 - June 1955 Muhammad Shahabuddin (acting)
June 1955 - 14 October 1955 Amiruddin Ahmad
14 October 1955 Province of East Bengal dissolved
Tenure Chief Minister of East Bengal[7] Political Party
15 August 1947 - 14 September 1948 Khawaja Nazimuddin Muslim League
14 September 1948 - 3 April 1954 Nurul Amin Muslim League
3 April 1954 - 29 May 1954 A. K. Fazlul Huq United Front
29 May 1954 - August 1955 Governor's Rule
August 1955 - 14 October 1955 Abu Hussain Sarkar Krishak Sramik Party
14 October 1955 Province of East Bengal dissolved

See also

References

  1. ^ Provincial Elections in Bengal Retrieved on August 24, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d Huq, AK Fazlul Retrieved on August 24, 2009.
  3. ^ Nazimuddin, Khwaja Retrieved on August 24, 2009.
  4. ^ a b Suhrawardy Retrieved on August 24, 2009.
  5. ^ Direct Action Day Retrieved on April 18, 2009.
  6. ^ a b Partition of Bengal, 1947 Retrieved August 24, 2009.
  7. ^ a b 'Statesmen of Bangladesh' Retrieved April 18, 2009.



Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Bangladesh article)

From Wikitravel

Asia : South Asia : Bangladesh
Location
noframe
Flag
Image:bg-flag.png
Quick Facts
Capital Dhaka (Dacca)
Government Parliamentary democracy (under martial law since January 2007)
Currency taka (BDT)
Area 147,570 km2
Population 147,365,352 (July 2006 est.)
Language Bangla (official, also known as Bengali), English
Religion Muslim 87%, Hindu 11%, other 1%
Electricity 220V/50Hz
Calling Code +880
Internet TLD .bd
Time Zone UTC +6

Bangladesh [1] is in South Asia sometimes converging with Southeast Asia, bordering the Bay of Bengal to the south, mostly surrounded by India and bordering Myanmar in the southeast.

Understand

British India was partitioned by joint leaders of the Congress, All India-Moslem League and Britain in the summer of 1947, creating the commonwealth realms of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and a Republic of India. Bangladesh came into existence in 1972 when Bengali-speaking East Pakistan seceded from its union with Punjabi dominated West Pakistan after a 9 month bloody war. Although Bangladesh only emerged as an independent country in 1972, its history stretches back thousands of years and it has long been known as a crossroads of history and culture. Here you will find the world's longest sea beach, countless mosques, the largest mangrove forest in the world, interesting tribal villages and a wealth of elusive wild life. Above all else you'll encounter a very friendly and hospitable people.

Ready-made garments, textiles, pharmaceuticals, agricultural goods, Ship building and fishing are some of the largest industries. The gap between rich and poor is increasingly obvious,as in the rest of Asia, especially in cities such as Dhaka and Chittagong as you move around between the working class old city and affluent neighborhoods like Gulshan and Baridhara.

Climate

Bangladesh has a tropical monsoon climate. There are four seasons in a year; Winter (Dec-Feb), Summer (Mar-May), Monsoon (June-Sep) and Autumn (Oct-Nov). The average temperature across the country usually ranges between 9 C - 29 C in winter months and between 21 C - 34 C during summer months. Annual rainfall varies from 160 cm to 200 cm in the west, 200 cm to 400 cm in the south-east and 250 cm to 400 cm in the north-east. Cyclones above category three/four are uncommon (especially in the deep winter January through March)-- but while rare, can still bring widespread disruption as expected to infrastructure and power outages, especially in the coastal areas. The weather pattern is akin to the Gulf Coast in the United States (Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana).

The current weather can be seen by hitting the 'play' button on the following interactive map, Current Bangladesh Satellite Weather Radar [2]

Landscape

The country is primarily a low-lying plain of about 144,000 km2, situated on deltas of large rivers flowing from the Himalayas: the Ganges unites with the Jamuna (main channel of the Brahmaputra) and later joins the Meghna to eventually empty into the Bay of Bengal. It’s fertile and mostly flat farmland and, with the exception of Chittagong Hill Tracts, rarely exceeds 10 meters above sea level, making it dangerously susceptible to a rise in sea level.

Highest point: Bijoy (1,231 meters).

Ramadan dates

  • 2010 (1431): Aug 11 - Sep 9
  • 2011 (1432): Aug 1 - Aug 29
  • 2012 (1433): Jul 20 - Aug 18

The festival of Eid ul-Fitr is held after the end of Ramadan and may last several days. Exact dates depend on astronomical observations and may vary from country to country.

  • Pohela Boishakh - The most widely celebrated secular national festival of the country. Here people from all walks of life participate in various cultural shows called Boishakhi Mela,wearing national dress (kurta or Shari), eating sweets and wishing every one happy new year.
  • Ekushey - National Mother Language Day - February 21. This day marks the anniversary of the martyrs that died in 1952 while protesting the imposition of Urdu, in the name of Islam, as the mother-tongue. The uprisings to support Bangla as the mother language fueled the movement towards secular nationalism that culminated in independence in 1971. The holiday is marked by (one of the most colourful events in Asia) tributes to the martyrs by political leaders, intellectuals, poets, writers, artisans and singing beginning at one minute after midnight on the 21st. Government offices are closed, and expect traffic disruption from February 20.
  • Independence day - March 26th- On this day 'Father of the Nation' Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman proclaimed country's independence.
  • Victory day - December 16th- On this day Pakistani occupied forces surrendered to joint Bangladeshi & Indian forces.
  • Eid-ul-Fitr - the largest muslim holiday of the year, it celebrates the end of the holy month of Ramazan. Food is the highlight, and if you're lucky you'll be invited into a private home for a feast. Businesses close for at least a couple days if not a week.
  • Eid-ul-Azha - is the second largest muslim festival.
  • Durga Puja - October 5th-9th, 2008. The largest Hindu festival in the country, it goes on for several days with festivities varying each day.
  • Christmas - December 25th, This is the largest Festival of Christian Community in the country which is declared as a Goverment Holiday.A prayer is held at Tejgaon Church at 11 PM (Local Time) in 24th December. Also some other church in Dhaka also arrange prayer at 24th December. By Stanley Dipu Mazumdar

Regions

Bangladesh is a very small country, broken into 6 administrative divisions:

Regions of Bangladesh
Regions of Bangladesh
Dhaka Division
home to the capital city
Chittagong Division
a picturesque hinterland of large hills forests
Rajshahi Division
known for its silk and mangoes
Khulna Division
a relaxing, slow paced area, home of the Sundarbans
Sylhet Division
home to endless rolling tea estates and beautiful natural scenery
Barisal Division
The land o River, Paddy & Green

Cities

Most of these cities are also the capital of the division of the same name:

  • Dhaka - The hectic capital city, an intense and thriving metropolis of some 12 million people that's growing by the day
  • Chittagong - a bustling commercial center and the largest international seaport in the country
  • Cox's Bazar - The country's premier beach resort, filled to the brim with boisterous Bangladeshi holiday makers.
  • Khulna - located on the Rupsha River, famous for shrimp and a starting point for journeys into the Sundarbans
  • Barisal - Southern city famous for Paddy growing and many rivers, best reached by a slow-paced and relaxing boat ride on the Rocket Steamer
  • Sylhet - the largest city in the northeast, known for the shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Shahjalal, one of the holiest sites in the country
  • Jessore - a nondescript small town, and a likely transit point to or from Kolkata, famous for Gur, a form of cake-like molasses produced from the extract of the date tree
  • Bagerhat - an important historical center and site of several mosques including the famous Shait Gumbad Masjid
  • Bogra- a culturally Buddhist area.
  • Char Atra - a low lying island located in the Ganges.
  • Rangamati- To take the colorful tribal experience of Bangladesh.
  • Saint Martins Island - the country's only coral island with friendly locals, a laid back vibe and coconuts to spare
  • Sundarbans - the largest mangrove in the world, with lots of bird life and some very elusive Bengal Tigers

Get in

Visas

Citizens of all countries need visa to enter Bangladesh. They prefer you to obtain it in your home country, but it's also possible at a few embassies and consulates in neighboring countries. Visas are only available on arrival if the country you're a citizen of has no Bangladeshi diplomatic mission in your home country, or if you're a 'privileged investor' invited by a Bangladeshi export trade body. Be ready to show paperwork indicating invitations from said Govt. organizations.

If you apply in your home country you can usually obtain a 3 month visa if arriving by air, or 15 days if arriving at a land border crossing. Fees vary depending on nationality and length of visa requested. Citizens must obtain visas from their home countries in most cases unless an Embassy/High Commission does not exist there. In the latter case a Visa will be issued in Bangladesh on arrival.

  • Commonwealth of Australia Citizens: All kinds of visas cost $AUD150 from the Canberra High Commission. The Canberra High Commission does not issue multiple entry tourist visas.
  • US citizens: The Embassy of Bangladesh in USA [3] is in Washington D.C. The visa fee is currently $131 if obtained from within the USA, and you can apply by mail. Links to the Consulate in LA [4] and Consulate in New York [5] will answer most questions — please read the 'visa requirements' sections carefully. A U.S. cashier's check, money order or bank draft should be made payable to "Consulate General of Bangladesh". International money orders, personal checks and cash are not acceptable. Visas on Arrival are available to US citizen tourists for up to 30 days (length determined at PoE), provided they have at least $500 in cash or travelers checks. The fee, still $131, must be paid in cash (USD, EUR, or GBP).
  • Canadian nationals: A single-entry visa for 3 months is C$80 and a multiple-entry visa is C$158. The Visa form for Canada is here: [6].
  • UK nationals: A single-entry visa is £40, double entry is £52, 3 entries for £75, and £104 for 4 entries.The UK visa form is here: [7] The UK also boasts a large number of Bangladesh consular offices [8].

For all other countries please see the visa fee list [9].

The Bangladesh High Commission in Kolkata, Circus Ave (Just east of AJC Bose Rd), +91 (0)33 2290 5208/5209, only issues 15 day visas, ranging from free for Indians to a hefty Rs 5000 (~$110) for American citizens. Applications are received at window #4 M-F from 9-11AM, and visas are generally ready the next afternoon. Bring 3 passport photos and copies of passport and Indian visa.

If you were a Bangladeshi citizen at some point in time and now hold a passport from a different country, you can contact your nearest Bangladesh High Commission for your "No Visa Required" stamp, which works as a permanent visa as long as your passport containing the stamp doesn't expire. This option is also available to the children of former Bangladeshi citizens.

Visa extensions

Visa extensions are possible in Dhaka at the Immigration and Passport Office, Agargaon Rd. Fees are the same as a single-entry visa, even if just trying to expand your 15 day pittance into a full-fledged 30-90 day visa, making a sidetrip from India for longer than 15 days an expensive endeavor. If you only want to stay a little longer it's better to just pay the overstay fee of Tk 200/day for up to 15 days, which grows substantially to Tk 500/day thereafter. Some of the smaller backwater crossings such as Tamabil may not even notice that you've overstayed, don't point it out yourself.

By plane

ZIA International Airport (ICAO: DAC) in Dhaka is the main gateway to the country, though Chittagong and Sylhet also receive international flights.

The national carrier is Biman Air [10], connecting with a few hubs in the Middle East, Asia and Europe. It has a less-than-stellar reputation for punctuality, cleanliness and safety. It is now under re-organization and most international routes have been canceled -- so look at other airlines for now.

The private carrier GMG Airlines [11] operates domestic and regional flights to Dhaka from Bangkok, Delhi, Dubai, Karachi, Kathmandu, Kolkata, and Kuala Lumpur, and is far better managed than Biman. It is the best local/regional carrier currently based in Dhaka and may start intercontinental routes soon.

Connecting from the Middle East:

There are direct flights to Dhaka from Qatar (Qatar Airways) and the United Arab Emirates [12] or Etihad Airways [13]) through which you can connect to most Asian and European capitals and several North American hubs. Emirates, for instance, serves New York, Toronto and Houston from their Dubai (DXB) hub non-stop -- and then connects to Dhaka via a short four-hour hop.

Connecting from East Asia:

Hong Kong (Chek Lap Kok) and Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) are the most convenient nearby hubs to reach Bangladesh from Eastern Asia (Beijing, Tokyo) and points further East (Western United States).

Dragonair [14] flies non-stop from Hong Kong to Dhaka (4~5 hours). Hong Kong as a major international hub has very good connections to the rest of the world.

Connecting from North America (East Coast):

No direct flights to Dhaka yet. Cathay Pacific [15] has a non-stop route from New York (JFK) to Hong Kong over the North Pole (CX830/831). Then you take a short Dragonair flight to Dhaka.

Continental [16] flies to Hong Kong non-stop using the same 16-hour polar route, flying from Newark Liberty (New Jersey). Again - the connection is by Dragonair.

Connecting from North America (West Coast):

Cathay Pacific, Thai & Singapore Airlines now have non-stop flights from Hong Kong, Bangkok & Singapore (their respective hub cities) to Los Angeles. Singapore Airlines may also have a direct flight to San Francisco as well. These airlines all have direct connecting flights to Dhaka from their respective hubs.

Connecting from Australia or South Africa:

You're better off connecting via the Bangkok or Singapore hubs (which are served by almost every airline -- it seems).

Connecting from Western Europe:

British Airways [17] no longer serves Dhaka non-stop from London. Air India now serves Dhaka-London via a short stopover in nearby Kolkata.

Connecting from the region (Indian subcontinent or China):

Connecting through Indian hubs (Delhi or Mumbai) to Dhaka, because of the proliferation of Indian airlines, can involve delays - though as of early 2008 these are not significant. A large number of Indian airlines (e.g. Jet Airways, through several code-share agreements) have direct flights to Europe, and provide convenient connections to Dhaka.

Some regional flights like those operated by Thai Airways [18] stop in Chittagong or Sylhet en route to/from Dhaka.

Nearby regional destinations like Kathmandu (Nepal), Paro (Bhutan), Kunming (China) and all Indian cities are readily accessible from Dhaka in under three hours and are served by a great number of private airlines. The most exotic destination from Dhaka is to Paro (Bhutan's Capital) and is served by Druk-Air [19], the national Bhutanese airline on Sundays (9:00 AM flight taking an hour). The approach to Paro Airport (PBH) is an adventure in itself.

Kunming is the other newest exotic addition to Dhaka's air-linked cities and has one flight a week (Thursdays). China Eastern Air [20] Flight 2035 arrives in Dhaka from Kunming (KMG) at 12:40 PM. Flight 2036 then departs at 1:40 PM and takes two and a half hours to reach Kunming - a relaxed hinterland Chinese city which is the capital of Yunnan province. At present (November 2007) this is the only direct air-link to the Chinese mainland from Bangladesh (other than Hong Kong).

By bus

The only open land borders are those with India. No land crossing is possible to Myanmar (occasionally Bangladesh passport holders are allowed to cross from Teknaf, though this changes regularly).

From Kolkata

From India there are a number of land entry points. The most common way is the regular comfortable a/c buses from Kolkata to Dhaka via the Haridaspur / Benapole border post. Private Bangladeshi bus companies Shohagh [21], Green Line [22], Shyamoli [23] among others operate daily Kolkata-Dhaka-Kolkata bus services. Govt. buses run under the label of the state owned West Bengal Surface Transport Service Corporation (WBSTSC) and the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation [24] (BRTC). WBSTSC and BRTC both operate buses from Kolkata (Karunamoyee international bus terminus in the Salt Lake neighborhood) every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 5:30AM and 8:30AM, and 12:30PM while from Dhaka they leave on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:00AM and 7:30AM. The normal journey time is around 12 hours with a one-way fare of Rs550 or BDT600-800, roughly $8-12. If you're only headed to Haridaspur the fare is Rs86 (2.5 hours). Timings will vary, please confirm after arrival in Kolkata (Calcutta).

From Siliguri

"Shayamoli Paribhahan" has a bus service from Siliguri to Dhaka.Phone# +8802-8360241, +8801716942154. It cost around 1000/=(may increase later) Taka for one way ticket.

From Agartala

There is a regular bus service between Dhaka and Agartala, capital of India's Tripura state. Two BRTC buses leave daily from Dhaka and connect with the Tripura Road Transport Corporation vehicles, running six days a week with a roundtrip fare of BDT600 ($10). There is only one halt at Ashuganj in Bangladesh during the journey. Call +880 2 8360241 for schedule.

Other entry points from India are Hili, Chilahati / Haldibari and Banglaband border posts for entry from West Bengal; Tamabil / Dawki border post for a route between Shillong (Meghalaya) and Sylhet in Bangladesh, and some others with lesser known routes from north-eastern Indian regions.

By train

Train services from India were suspended for 42 years, but the Maitree Express started running again between Dhaka to Kolkata in April 2008. The service is biweekly: A Bangledeshi train leaves Dhaka every Saturday, returning on Sunday, while an Indian train leaves Kolkata on Saturdays and returns the next day.

Get around

By plane

Air travel in Bangladesh is very affordable and convenient.

There are airports in all of the division capitals and in Jessore, Cox's Bazar and some other small cities. Most of the domestic airports are served by either Biman Air [25], the national airline, or GMG Airlines [26], their private competitor.

Biman had the interesting distinction of flying the half-hour Dhaka-Chittagong (DAC-CGP) leg (~250 miles) on DC-10's and Airbus A-310's - both large widebody jets.

United Airways [27], and Royal Bengal Airlines [28] are two private operators offering excellent domestic and international flights.

By helicopter

There are quite a few rotor-wing craft services available for hire in Bangladesh for tourism, MEDEVAC or Film-footage services. Any reputable travel agent will know full details. As of now - one service "ATL" is at, ATL [29] or at ATL [30].

By bus

Local Bangladeshi buses are generally crowded, often to the extent of people riding on the bus steps (entrance) and sometimes even the roof. The state run Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation [31] (BRTC) buses usually fall into this catergory.

However, there are luxurious air conditioned bus services connecting major cities and popular tourist destinations. Green Line [32], Shyamoli [33], SilkLine [34] and Shohagh [35] usually have a couple different offices dotted around the cities they serve. Greenline has a few Scania buses running between Dhaka, Chittagong and Cox's Bazar that offer a level of comfort you've probably never seen in a bus before - they cost about 1/3 more than their Volvo buses, but are comparable to business class on an airplane, at least.

By car

Driving in Bangladesh is not for the faint hearted - the road network is fairly good, but dodging irrational bus drivers and weaving in and out of rickshaws isn't easy on the nerves. Traffic in Dhaka has reached unimaginable proportions, and self-driving isn't really advised. Night time driving is substantially more dangerous as trucks often ignore smaller cars. It is highly advised to get a local driver.

By train

Bangladesh Railways [36] is the state and only train operator. The ticket prices are reasonable and usually similar to bus ticket prices and sometimes even cheaper. However, due to the roundabout routes and tricky river crossings, the journey durations are usually much longer. Tickets can be booked over the phone, though unless you speak Bengali you're likely to get better results at one of the computerized station booking offices.

Trains are generally comfortable, with more leg room than buses. Though the carriages are generally not very clean, the AC and 1st class seats are manageable. Sulob class is the highest 2nd class ticket, with reserved seating and not much different from 1st class (except in price).

Kamlapur Rail Station in Dhaka is large and modern. It serves all major cities but due to the existence of broad gauge and meter gauge tracks around the country it may be required to change trains en route.

Note that there have been a relatively high number of train accidents compared to other Asian countries.

By boat

There are over 230 mighty and small rivers throughout the country, and boats and ferries are an integral part of travel for locals and tourists alike. A journey along the river in any mode is probably the best way to see Bangladesh. There are a number of private tour operators offering river sightseeing trips of various lengths, or using the ferries to get between cities is a great way to see the country at a moderate pace.

The Rocket Steamer service connects Dhaka and Khulna via Barisal, and is a fantastic way to enjoy riverine Bangladesh, for those who prefer the scenic route. The 4 ferries are operated by BIWTC [37] and run several times per week in each direction. It's advisable to book several days in advance if possible. While there are several different classes it's unlikely that you will end up in anything but 1st or 2nd class. Both of these consist of around 10 small berths on the upper deck of the boat with 2 beds each and a sink (no doubt doubling as a urinal), and fairly clean shared bathrooms. There's a central dining/sitting room in each class with a chef cooking Bengali meals and the odd fish-and-chips or an omelette for around Tk 50-150. Cheaper food can be bought at the vendors in the lower classes on the bottom level. First class is at the front of the boat, with the bow made into a nice sitting area. If you're traveling single you must book 2 beds if you want a berth guaranteed to yourself in either class, though unless the boat is completely full it's unlikely they'll put someone in a foreigner's room even if you just pay for one. The full journey takes anywhere from 26-30 hours and costs Tk 1010/610 in first/second class. It's best avoided during the rainy seasons and during holidays when the launches get over crowded with home-returning city dwellers. The more eco-friendly may prefer to take their trash off with them, otherwise it's likely to end up in the river at the end of the journey.

BIWTC also operates many other more basic ferries that may be useful for smaller distances.

Talk

The national language is Bengali (Bangla) and is spoken everywhere. It's an Indo-Aryan language derived from Prakit, Pali and Sanskrit and written in its own script. Many Bangladeshis only understand limited English such as basic affirmatives, negatives, and some numbers. Learning a few Bengali words ahead of your trip will prove very useful.

Two centuries of British colonisation lead people to identify most foreigners as either British or American, and to view them with curiosity. The first question you will probably be asked is "What is your country?" (Desh kothay? in Bangla). If hawkers or rickshaw-wallahs are over-zealous, "Amar dorkar nai" or "Lagbey nah" mean "No thanks." If you don't wish to give money to beggars and other unfortunates, "maaf koro" means "pardon me" or you can apply a tricky concept saying "Amar bangthi poisha nai", meaning "I have no change".

What will it cost?

  • 2 liter bottled water: Tk 20
  • Chai: Tk 4
  • Newspaper: Tk 10
  • Candy bar: Tk 15
  • Coke/Pepsi: Tk 15
  • Pair of readymade pants: ~Tk 100
  • Solitude: out of stock

Bangladesh is one of the largest ready-made garment manufacturers in the world, exporting clothing for famous brands such as Nike, Adidas and Levis. Though these products are usually not meant for sale in the local markets, they can be found in abundance in famous shopping areas such as Banga Bazaar and Dhaka College.

In most stores prices are not fixed. Even most of stores that display 'fixed-price' lebel tolerate haggling. Prices and can be lowered quite considerably. If bargaining is not your strong point ask a local in the vicinity politely what they think you should pay.

Aarong [38] is one of the largest and most popular handicraft and clothing outlets with stores in Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet and Khulna. It's a great place for souvenirs or to pick up a stylish kurta or salwar kameez at fixed prices.

Women can find a cotton shalwar kameez for around Tk 400 in a market or Tk 800-1500 in a shop. Silk is more expensive.

ATMs can be found in most metropolitan areas. Dutch Bangla Bank has the largest ATM network in Bangladesh and finding one isn't hard (there is one at the airports of both Dhaka and Chittagong). These ATMs accept all Mastercard and Visa credit/debit cards. Most international banks in the country such as Standard Chartered and Citibank also rely on the Dutch-Bangla Bank Nexus™ ATM network for their own clients. HSBC [39] ATMs are located at most hotels but only accept Visa debit/credit cards and HSBC GlobalAccess™ cards (no Mastercard).

Eat

Bangladesh is a fish lover's paradise. Traditionally most of the country lives off of the once bountiful river fish, especially the officially designated "national fish" hilsa, though sea fish are now working their way north. Sometimes incredibly boney, it's often served whole, and sometimes deboned and made into a curry. Mutton is also popular, as in most Muslim countries, as is decidedly meatless chicken. Rice is almost always the companion to any of these.

Mixed vegetable curries are plentiful - potato, eggplant, squash and tomatoes are the staple ingredients. Cucumber is enormously popular and often served with onions as a little side salad.

The idea of salad varies from international standard. In Bangladesh, a few round slices of onions and cucumbers is treated as a full plate of salad.

Dal is available at pretty much anytime of the day and accompanies most meals, though it doesn't compare to its cousin in India — expect a salty dal-flavored water with a few lentils hanging out in the bottom of the bowl.

Boiled eggs (dhim) are a popular snack (Tk 3-5), and fresh fruit is abundant, such as bananas (Tk 2/ea), apples (chinese, Tk 80-100/kg), oranges, grapes, pomegranates and papayas. Delicious and diverse, mangos (Tk 50-150/kg) are a very popular fruit throughout Bangladesh.

Fast food restaurants and bakeries serving burgers, kababs, spring rolls, vegetable patties and just about anything else you can throw in a deep fryer are dotted around most cities. Most things will run around Tk 10/each.

Most Bangladeshis eat with their right hand as in neighboring countries - play with your food a little first to form it into a mouth-sized ball then, using your four fingers as a makeshift scoop, pick it up and launch it into your mouth with your thumb - takes some practice, but don't pretend you aren't loving it. Never use your left hand to bring food to your mouth, though it's ok to use it for bringing a glass to your mouth or to serve food from a common dish with a spoon. Every restaurant will have a handwashing station (sometimes just a pitcher if they don't have running water), and you should use it before and after the meal. It doesn't matter a whole lot if you don't get it all exactly right, but know that the entire restaurant is watching and waiting to see if you do.

Table sharing is acceptable and even expected in most establishments, with the exception of nicer city restaurants. Many places have separate curtained-off booths for women and families, a nice reprieve from prying eyes.

Drink

Nightlife in Bangladesh is nearly non-existent. Being a Muslim country, alcohol is frowned upon and found mostly in the international clubs and pricier restaurants in Dhaka and in some restaurants in tourist centers like Cox's Bazar. In Teknaf and on Saint Martins Island you may stumble upon the occasional beer smuggled in from Myanmar. Some of the nicest hotels in the cities have fully equipped bars with exaggerated prices to match.

Coffee is -- like the rest of the world, a perennial middle-class 'Adda' (gossip) accompaniment in this city. A favourite haunt for coffee-lovers (those with a 'Starbucks' bent) is 'Coffeeworld' [40], Dhaka branch addresses (about seven so far) given here, Dhaka Coffeeworld joints [41]. Most coffee aficionados here rate their 'Caramel Macchiato' better than the plain Starbucks variety and cheaper to boot (about US$2)!

Fruit juice is plentiful, varied and delicious, though be wary of watered down or icy drinks and dirty blenders. Sugarcane juice is widely available during the hot season.

Coconuts are popular in the southeast tourists spots like Cox's Bazar and Saint Martins Island.

Do

There's a lot happening around the city. Like any large metropolis there are dramas, concerts and performances galore -- both of the western and local variety. Yes it is possible to end up at a live rave event with thrash music in Dhaka!!

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Tk 50-500
Mid-range Tk 550-5000
Splurge Tk 5000+

There's a broad range of hotels in the country, from economy hotels costing $1 per night (sometimes filthy and sometimes reluctant to take foreigners) up to 5-star hotels in some of the major cities, including chains like Radisson Dhaka [42], Sheraton Dhaka [43] ,Westin Dhaka [44].Another comfortable place is Lakeshore Hotels and Apartments.[45]

Visit

Bangladesh is a country with lots of places to visit, many of which offer unforgettable experiences but remain relatively unknown to the rest of the world.

Dhaka (the Capital) has a number of attractions for the tourists. They include, but are not limited to, the Lalbagh Quilla, Ahsan Manjil, Shaheed Minar, Boro Katra, Choto Katra, the National Museum, Jatiyo Songshad Bhaban(the Parliament Building) etc. The Suhrawardy Uddan and the Ramna Park are two parks that provide green respite to the city dwellers. Other tourist attractions include places like Baitul Mukarram (National Mosque), the High Court Building, the Bangabandhu Museum, etc. If you're only visiting one thing, then the LalBagh Qilla fort is a must see, in the older part of town. The older part of Dhaka, known as "Puran Dhaka", is literally a city of history, with hundred year old buildings crammed on each sides of hundreds of narrow lanes. Each Moholla (city block) of Puran Dhaka is unique with its specialized shops and artisans and gives an authentic taste of what Dhaka is all about.

The rest of Bangladesh is also ornamented with thousands of gems, most of which remain hidden and await exploration. The names are endless, but the prominent ones include, Moynamoti, Paharpur (Shompur Bihar), Mohasthangor, Kantajir Mondir, Ramshagor, Shatgombuj Mosque, Khanjahan Ali's Shrine, Shriti Shoudho etc. These sites offer architectures from various eras of the country's history, including Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim eras and date back thousand years.

The natural beauty of Bangladesh can be explored away from the hustle and bustle of Dhaka, the Capital. Bangladesh has the longest unbroken sea beach in the world: the Cox'sbazar. Also, it has the largest mangrove forest in the world: the Sundarbans. The hills of Rangamati, Khagrachori and Bandarban offer exciting trekking opportunities, while the Kaptai Lake (situated amongst the hills of Rangamati) can be considered a romantic getaway. The villages are the true countryside of Bangladesh and almost always have green paddy fields and yellow mustard fields with rivers flowing. Other natural wonders of Bangladesh include the Padma (Ganges) river, the Madhabkunda, Jaflong, the tea gardens of Sylhet and Moulovibazar, etc.

Work

Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment, [46].

Stay safe

Bangladesh is a country full of friendly and open minded people. But being a underdeveloped country with high poverty rate, there are some bad natured people who may find ways to exploit a new comer. Please stick to common sense precautions like not walking around unnecessarily after dark, and if you do find yourself in trouble, create some noise and draw the attention of others who are almost certain to come to your aid. When traveling by rickshaw, CNG (auto-rickshaw) or bus be careful to keep valuables close at hand.

Local women are wearing very conservative clothes. If you wear western casutal clothes, it is visible as tourist very easily. But Bangladesh is a very open minded muslim country and people respect the difference of opinions.

Nationwide strikes or “hartals” are widely employed as a means of political expression in Bangladesh. The political opposition over the past several years has called a number of these hartals, resulting in the virtual shutdown of transportation and commerce, and sometimes attacks on individuals who do not observe the hartals. Clashes between rival political groups during hartals have resulted in deaths and injuries. Visitors should avoid all political protests, demonstrations, and marches. During hartals, visitors should exercise caution in all areas and remain indoors whenever possible. Hartals, demonstrations, and other protests can occur at ANY time.

It's best to not eat, drink or smoke anything offered to you by strangers – there's a growing problem in many Asian countries of druggings, and you're likely to see signs warning you against it on buses, trains, etc. That's not to say you shouldn't take someone up on their offer for a home cooked meal, but you may want to think twice about that piece of candy the person in the seat next to you just handed you.

Speeding bus/coaches/trucks cause many deaths. The insanity of the drivers of coaches is best witnessed from a distance. Favourite manoeuvres include high speed overtaking on blind bends and forcing other vehicles off of the road. Consequently, road travel (if absolutely necessary) is best undertaken with an experienced local driver in a good vehicle with safety belts.

  • Bottled water is recommended, as the tap water is often unsafe for foreign stomachs, and some hand-drawn tube wells are contaminated with naturally occurring arsenic. This will easily pass through filters designed only to screen out bacteria. A more environmentally friendly option is to boil your own water, or use purifying tablets. However, nothing short of distillation will remove arsenic.
  • It's also wise to use discretion when eating from street vendors - make sure it's freshly cooked and hot.
  • Mosquitoes can be abundant in some areas and cities, and nets are often provided, even in some of the cheapest hotels.
  • Pollution can be a problem, and in some of the cities like Dhaka and Chittagong you may wish you'd brought along an oxygen tank. While some effort has been shown recently to clean up the country such as the banning of plastic bags, there's still a long way to go and most people use the many waterways as garbage dumps - it would be unwise to swim in most of the rivers and downright senseless in a lake.

Amar dike takaben na!

Foreign tourists are still very much a novelty to many Bangladeshis - kids see you as a toy to play with, while others see you as their opportunity to practice their English with endless enthusiasm. Most however, are content to just look... and look... and look. If it becomes too much, Amar dike takaben na roughly means "please stop staring at me!!"... but use the !! sparingly.

Most Bangladeshis are religious but fairly liberal and secular points of view are not uncommon. The people are in general very hospitable, and a few precautions will keep it this way:

  • As in most neighboring countries the left hand is considered unclean, used for toilet duties, removing shoes, etc. Always use your right hand to offer or receive anything, and to bring food to your mouth.
  • Men should never attempt to shake hands with or touch local women — simply put your hand on your heart and bow slightly to greet.
  • Mosques are sometimes off-limits to non-Muslims and certain areas of them off-limits to women. Inquire with someone at the mosque before entering and before taking any pictures. Cover your head and arms and legs.
  • Standing from your seat to greet elderly individuals will gain you much respect.
  • Keep in mind that Bangladesh sees only a tiny number of foreign visitors, and most locals will be genuinely curious about you, watching your every move and expression. Don't underestimate how impressionable some can be, make sure you're leaving good ones!

Cope

Electricity

Electricity is 220V 50Hz. There are three types of electrical outlets likely to be found in Bangladesh — the old British standard BS-546, the newer British standard BS-1363 and the European standard CEE-7/16 "Europlug". It's wise to pack adapters for all three.

Clothing

Most women wear either a sari or a salwar kameez - a nice and comfortable three piece outfit with a knee-length tunic (kameez), pants (salwar) and a matching scarf. Foreign women may want to consider the same. Having said this, rapid westernization has changed how modern city dwellers dress, especially the upper class. Jeans and t-shirts are common among the younger generation though remember it's polite to keep your shoulders and legs covered. This goes also for men – shorts are worn only by young boys.

Shaving

Men can easily leave their razors at home and rely on the ever-present barber shops where a basic shave will run around Tk 10-20. Make sure they use a new blade, though you won't usually have to ask. "Deluxe" shaves will run around double price and barbers will often assume foreign tourists want this, so be clear if you're just after a quick shave and don't want the dubious massage and forehead/nose shaving.

Tipping

In upscale restaurants around 7% is expected, but outside of these it's the exception not the rule.

  • Prothom Alo, [47].
  • The Daily Star, [48].
  • The Bangladesh Observer, [49].
  • The News Today, [50]
  • The New Nation, [51]
  • ABC Radio (Dhaka) - 89.2 MHz [52]
  • Radio Foorti-88.0 MHz (Dhaka), 98.4 MHz (Chittagong), 89.8 MHz (Sylhet) [53]
  • Radio Today- 89.6 MHz(Dhaka), 88.6MHz(Chittagong) [54]
  • Radio Aamar 88.4 MHz(Dhaka)
  • Bangladesh Betar (Relays BBC World Service) - 100.00 MHz
  • Washington D.C., 3510 International Drive NW, [55].

Contact

Telephone

The country code for Bangladesh is 880. Add a 0 to make a call to any Bangladesh city or region outside the national capital.

It is not possible to access international information (directory assistance) from within Bangladesh. If you need international directory assistance, check the Internet telephone directories.

Landlines are a rarity in Bangladesh, and aren't reliable even when you can find them. Bangladesh Telephone Company Ltd. (BTCL or formerly BTTB, known generally as T&T) is the public sector phone company and the only landline service in the country.

Mobile phones are a better bet and widely available. In most towns they'll be your only option, and many shop owners let theirs double as PCO's / ISD's. Banglalink [56] and Grameenphone [57] are the most widely available, followed by Citycell [58], Aktel [59], Teletalk [60] and Warid [61]. Except Citycell all work on the GSM network and offer prepaid packages at reasonable prices – usually about Tk 140 ($2) to get started. International calls are possible, and often more reasonably priced than you would expect if you're calling the US or major European countries although prices can rise drastically as you get more off the beaten path. E-ISD facility offered by different mobile phone service providers can reduce the cost significantly. For the E-ISD service dial 012 instead of 00/+.

Internet

Internet is available in most of the larger towns, with prices hovering around Tk 15-20/hour. Most are on broadband connections, but speed does not meet international standards. WiMAX service is now available from some internet service providers. You can also find WiFi connectivity in some places around the big cities.

Internet calls may be be possible, though the Information Ministry has outlawed them. Try Dialpad [62], Hotelphone [63], Mediaring [64] or Skype [65]. You'll likely need your own microphone/headphone.

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Simple English

East Bengal (Bengali:পূর্ব বেঙ্গল) is the eastern part of Bengal. East and West Bengal were once part of British India, after the British left the east and west parts of Bengal were split between Pakistan and the Republic of India's West Bengal province, with an area of 55,126 mi² or (142,776 km²). East Bengal also used to be called East Pakistan until it became independent from Pakistan. Today it is called Bangladesh.

Before 1905, the first instance of the name was during the British rule of India. British governance of large swathes of Indian territory began with Robert Clive's win over the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj ud-Daulah, at the Battle of Plassey in 1757. The win gave the British East India Company dominion over Bengal, which became the headquarters of British administration in the sub-continent. After the Indian rebellion of 1857 (known as the "Mutiny"), the British government took direct control away from the East India Co., and got its imperial capital at Calcutta, the city founded by the Company. By 1900, the British place of Bengal constituted a big territory, all the way from the Burmese border to deep into the "Ganges valley."

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