Map of Sylhet
Sylhet from the air!
Ancient times: Brahmin 'Silhatta'
Historians believe that Sylhet was a commercial center from ancient period and had people of Brahmin, Assamese, Dravidians, Arabs, Persian, and Turks background. It was a Brahmin kingdom and controlled by rajas. Sylhet was certainly known by the rest of India, and is even referred to in the ancient Hindu sacred Tantric text, the Shakti Sangama Tantra, as 'Silhatta'.
In the ancient and early medieval period, a large part of the then Laur, Goud and Jaintia states which now constitute Sylhet were ruled primarily by local chieftains as viceroy of the Koch kings of Pragjyotishpur (the city of ancient glory, and present-day Gauhati) of Assam. There is evidence to suggest that the Maharaja Sri Chandradeva, of northern Bengal, conquered Bengal in the 10th century, although this is a much disputed topic amongst Bangladeshi historians and archaeologists. This was a period of relative prosperity and there is little evidence to suggest this was marred by wars or feuds.
After the decline of the Brahmin kingdoms tribal people of mongols took control of Sylhet. The last chief to rule over Sylhet was Govinda of Gaur, or Gaur Govind as he is commonly known, of the Tepra tribe of Tripura and the Sylhet area became known as Gaur Kingdom.
1303: Islam introduced by Hazrat Shah Jalal (Rahimullah) by defeating Raja Gaur Govind
According to legend, in 1301 Sheikh Burhanuddin, one of the first Muslim of Sylhet, had sacrificed a cow to celebrate the birth of his son. A crow snatched a piece of the dead meat and it fell from its beak into the temple of King Gaur Govinda (others say it fell in a Brahmin Hindu's house). Offended by this, as cows are holy for Hindus, Gaur Govinda had Sheikh Burhanuddin's hands cut off and killed his son.
Burhanuddin then pleaded to Shamsuddin Firoz Shah, the Sultan of Gaur, who sent an army under the command of his nephew Sikander Khan Ghazi but this army was defeated. Some say heavy rain and floods had stopped them.
Shah Jalal arrives with 360 followers
In 1303 Shamsuddin sought help from Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, a highly influential sufi (dervish) in Delhi, India. Hazrat Nizamuddin requested Sheikh Makhdum Jalal ad-Deen bin Muhammad of Yemen, popularly known as Hazrat Shah Jalal, to aid Burhanuddin. Hazrat Shah Jalal came with 360 auliyas (followers) - including his baghna (nephew) Hazrat Shah Poran - and travelled to Sylhet with Sikander Khan Ghazi.
Cross Surma Nodi with a Jainamaz
Knowing that Shah Jalal was advancing towards Sylhet, Raja Gaur Govinda removed all ferry boats from the Surma Nodi, thereby cutting off any means of crossing into Sylhet. Legend has it that Shah Jalal crossed the Surma Nodi by sitting on a Jainamaz (prayer rug). Upon reaching the opposite bank, he ordered the azan (call to prayer) to be sounded, at which the magnificent palace of Gaur Govinda was shattered.
However, an inscription from Sylhet town, dated 1512-13, says that it was Sikandar Khan Ghazi who had actually conquered the town in the year 1303-4.
With Hazrat Shah Jalal's help, the Hindus were completely defeated and crushed by the Muslim Army. Shortly thereafter, Sylhet became the center of Islam in Bengal and was often referred to as 'Jalalabad' (after Hazrat Shah Jalal) during the era of Muslim Mughal Empire rule (1526 - 1803).
According to further legend, Shah Jalal was given some earth (mud) by his uncle and instructed to settle down where he finds the matching earth - this was destined to be Choukidhiki area in Sylhet. His disciples traveled and settled as far as Mymensingh and Dhaka to spread the teachings of Islam and converted people from Hinduism or Buddhism to Islam. Shah Paran settled in Sylhet, Shah Malek Yemeni in Dhaka, Syed Ahmad Kolla Shahid in Comilla, Syed Nasiruddin in the region of Pargana Taraf, Haji Daria and Shaikh Ali Yemeni. An expedition to Chittagong was led by Khwaja Burhanuddin Qattan and Shah Badruddin. An expedition to Sunamganj was led by Shah Kamal Qattani, whose shrine is located in the village of Shaharpara, Sunamganj.
Shah Jalal died in Sylhet in or around the year 1350. His shrine is located in the north of the city, Amberkhana, and is known as Dargah-e-Shah Jalal, or locally as Shah Jalal's Dargah sharif or mazar.
The dargah sharif contains some artifacts belonging to Shah Jalal, for example his sword and his robes. The graveyard of the dargah sharif is also the most sought after resting place for many prominent Sylhet people.
Shah Jalal is often mistakenly reverred as Hazrat or given the title R.A, both of which are misconceptual and incorrect in islam.
1858: Strategic importance for British Rule
During the time of the British rule in India (1858 - 1947) the British East India Company became interested in Sylhet and saw it as an area of strategic importance in the war against Burma (to the east of Bangladesh). Sylhet became part of British control and administration and was governed as a part of Bengal.
British's Sylheti agent Robert Lindsay
On 23 June 1757 the British East India Company (BEIC) defeated Siraj-ud-Daulah, Nawab of Bengal, in the Battle of Plassey, near Kolkata, with the help of the treacherous Mir Jafar to establish their dominancy in India. In 1764 their military control was reaffirmed at Battle of Buxar when the BEIC beat the combined armies of Mir Qasim (Nawab of Bengal), Shuja-ud-Daulah (Nawab of Awadh) and Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II. The subsequent treaty gained them the Diwani, the taxation rights, for Bengal and Bihar.
In 1778 the BEIC appointed Robert Lindsay as "Resident (tax) Collector" of Sylhet.
Lindsay, an enterprising Scot, was determined to fill the Company's coffers. But at the same time he meant to look out for himself. Shortly after arriving in Sylhet, he started trading in elephants and limestone, and within a few years made a personal fortune. His dual role as trader and governor, however, stirred discontent. The Muslims of India were still smarting from their recent losses at British hands, and the Sylhetis in particular yearned for freedom.
Syed Zain Al-mahmood, Journalist
The leading families of Sylhet were stalwart Muslims, descendants of a long line of warriors and reformers beginning with Shah Jalal, the 'Saint of Kunya' and his companions. Lindsay himself regarded the tomb of Shah Jalal as a potential hotbed of resistance.
Flooding increases hostility towards British
Disaster struck the region in 1781 when a devastating flood wiped out the crop. The resulting famine killed almost a third of the population. Although Lindsay wrote to Fort William - BEIC's base in Kolkata - urging tax exemption, the locals blamed the British for failing to prevent the catastrophe. There was an uprising, led by brothers Syed Muhammad Hadi and Syed Muhammad Mahdi (known locally as Hada Miah and Mada Miah), sons of a prominent local family. In his memoire "Anecdotes of An Indian Life", Lindsay simply refers to the leader of the rebellion as "Pirzada" - literally, "son of a religious leader".
In 1782, Lindsay and his army faced the Pirzada's followers near the site of the famed Shahi Eidgah in Sylhet. The rebels, armed with swords and spears, were no match for the firepower of the British. Although they fought gallantly, the uprising was swiftly quelled and the Pirzada was killed in battle. In his book Lindsay recalls how he lived in fear of revenge attacks by the Pirzada's followers for as long as he remained in Sylhet.
In his autobiography Lindsay described in details the conditions of agriculture and manufactures. He reported that main attraction of Sylhet to the colonial government was chunam, rattan, elephants, fishes, timbers, betel nut, bamboo and so on. People from far flung districts used to come to Sylhet for fishes, timbers, betel nuts and bamboo. He described about the jungle state of Sylhet and presence of animals such as elephant, tiger, rhinoceros, leopard, deer, and wild fowl.
Syed Ullah's revenge mission in Britain ends with him making a curry for Robert Lindsay!
Robert Lindsay served in Sylhet for 12 years. By 1809, Robert Lindsay was back home in Britain leading a life of retired luxury. One day, while out riding, he spotted an Indian by the side of the road. On questioning, the man said he had arrived on a merchant vessel from Bengal. It turned out he was from Sylhet, and so Lindsay invited him to his mansion. The man, Syed Ullah, said he was looking for a Briton named "Lindsay". "When I told him who I was, he looked at me with hatred in his eyes. 'So it was you who killed Pirzada!'".
Syed Ullah had come to avenge Pirzada's death. Lindsay expressed regret and explained that he was doing his duty on that day. It is not clear how, but the wily Scot managed to gradually defuse the tension. After the two had made peace, Lindsay asked Syed Ullah if he could cook curry. The Sylheti man replied that curry was his specialty and he usually carried some spices with him. Lindsay requested Syed Ullah to whip up an "Indian" meal. Lindsay writes in his memoirs that his family members begged him not to eat anything cooked by the oriental man. His children's governess had apparently dreamt that a black man had poisoned the entire family. Lindsay, however, was unmoved. "Never was a curry better dressed,” he wrote in Anecdotes, "and never did I have a better meal."
This strange incident may have been embellished slightly by Robert Lindsay, but it is actually the first specific report of a Sylheti in Britain. It is all the more remarkable because it brings together several of the threads that run through the early part of the British Bangladeshi narrative colonialism, the sea, and curry.
Sylhet's maritime past has been all but erased. Ask a local man about the seafaring "Sarangs" of old and you are likely to get a blank look. But it was not too long ago that names like Ayub Ali Master, Surab Sarang and Chowdhry Sarang were household names in the Sylhet region. The name "Sarang Bari" (Mariner's Home) harks back to a forgotten era in Sylhet's history. Very rarely one meets an old-timer whose eyes will light up at the mention of those names. "Ahhh, those Jahaji (sailor) folk! They were brave men!"
Syed Zain Al-mahmood, Journalist
Part of Assam
Until 1878 Sylhet was under the jurisdiction of Dhaka. In that year, Sylhet was included in the newly created Assam Province (located north-east of Bangladesh) and remained a part of Assam until 1947 when British India was divided into India, West Pakistan, and East Pakistan.
New Sylhet built after earthquake
A devastating earthquake demolished almost the entire town on 12 June 1897 following which a modern and European model new town was built on the wreckage. Many new roads were constructed in the late 1890s and Sylhet became really connected to the other parts of the country with the establishment of an extension line of Assam–Bengal Railway in 1912-15. From the very beginning of the 20th century, the importance of Sylhet increased with the establishment of the tea industry.
1947: From Indian Assam to East Bengal
In 1947, following a referendum, almost all of 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 to determine whether Sylhetis wanted to be a part of East Pakistan or stay with Assam. A total of 546,815 votes were cast on 239 polling stations, and a majority of 43.8% 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.
As a result of the referendum, Sylhet became part of East Pakistan and was included in the Chotrogram division.
Beyond the Muslim (90%), Hindu (7%) and Buddhist (less than 1%) population which constitute the vast majority of Sylhetis, there are also more than 100,000 indigenous people - making up 1.5% of Sylhet Division’s population. The main ethnic groups in Sylhet are Khasi, Manipuri, Garo, Patro, Bishnupriya, Tripura and Santal. They are spread out throughout Sylhet and generally live below the poverty line.
1971: City of Saints becomes third major city of Bangladesh
As a result of the 1971 Mukhtijuddho (Independence War of Bangladesh) East Pakistan became the newly formed independent country of Bangladesh - and Sylhet became it's third major city after Dhaka and Chotrogram.
Located on the banks of the Surma nodi, Sylhet has a growing population of 500,000 people while also having a high population density. It is surrounded by Indian states of Meghalaya in the north, Assam in the east, Tripura in the south and the Bangladesh districts of Netrokona, Kishoregonj and Brahmanbaria in the west.
The area covered by Sylhet Division is 12,569 km², which is about 8% of the total land area of Bangladesh.
A number of great personalities like Rabindranath Tagore, Poet Nazrul, Mahatma Gandhi, Moulana Mohammad Ali, Moulana Shaokat Ali, Hossain Shahid Suhrawardy, Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Haque and Manik Bandopadhyay visited Sylhet on different occasions.
Iqbal Siddiquee, Journalist
1983-1984: Greater Sylhet divided into 4 zillas
During the 1983-84 period Greater Sylhet was divided into four new districts or zillas:
1995: Breaks away from Chotrogram bibhag and becomes 6th bibhag of Bangladesh
On 1 August 1995 Sylhet was declared as the 6th division of the country - 'Sylhet Bibhag' or Greater Sylhet. This new division along with Barisal, Chittagong, Dhaka, Khulna, Rajshahi, and Rangpur makes up the whole of Bangladesh.
Sylhet Bibhag is commonly referred to as just 'Sylhet'. This can arouse confusion, specially amongst non-Sylhetis since the city is called Sylhet, a district (zilla) is also called Sylhet and now the division (bibhag) is also called Sylhet!
Greater Sylhet is made up of four districts and has 12 upazillas (subdistricts), 35 thanas/upazillas (sub-districts), 323 union parishad, and 10,185 villages. It has approximately 10 million people, which is less than 7% of the total population of Bangladesh.
- Sylhet Sadar
- South Surma
Sylhet Sadar is the largest of these twelve upazillas.
At Present: 'Londonies' drive economy
On 9 April 2001 Sylhet city was upgraded into City Corporation having been a municipality since 1878, i.e. for 123 years. However, the Sylhet municipal board itself was established eleven years earlier in 1867.
Seven years after gaining Corporation status, on 31 March 2009, it was granted metropolitan city status along with Barisal.
Metropolitan city, or metropolis, is a term generally used to represent a large urban city. By becoming established as a metropolis in 2009, Sylhet became acknowledged nationally and internationally as a center of economic, political and cultural importance to Bangladesh.
The main economic development of Sylhet Bibhag is carried out by British Bangladeshis, commonly referred to as 'Londoni'. Over 95% of the bengalis in Britain come from the Sylhet region and they invest largely to the development of Sylhet.
During the fiscal year of 2005-06, the flow of remittances increased by 25 % to $4.8 billion, mostly from expatriates of Sylheti origin living in the United Kingdom with significant contributions from expatriates in the United States. That amount was expected to increase to $5.5 billion in 2007, with the government's attention toward supervising and monitoring banks.
The construction industry in Sylhet is currently booming, with many shopping centres and apartments being built to luxurious standards. The skyline of the city is mainly dominated by large buildings of western-style shopping malls, which has been the largest investments made by the expatriates. There are many new restaurants and stores, often themed on those found in London, which have been established to cater to the visiting Sylheti expatriate population and the growing Sylheti middle classes. These include, Garden Tower in Uposhohor, the London Mansion, Sylhet Millennium, Blue Water (named after Bluewater Shopping Complex in the UK), London Fried Chicken (from Perfect Fried Chicken) and Tessco (misspelt from the original Tesco).
New hotels have been established, the Rose View Hotel (in Uposhohor) and the first Apartment-Hotel and resort in Bangladesh, called Grand Sylhet (near Osmani International Airport), are both the only five-star hotels in the city.
But,new matters of concern are awaiting the people here. The geologists and other scientists say the Sylhet region falls within the most earthquake prone zone of the country. During the last 150 years three major earthquakes (surface-wave magnitude larger than 7.5 on the Richter Scale ) have occurred in this area. But local people are not that aware of the seismic status of the region. Since the last catastrophic earthquake occurred in 1918, very few people remember it.
The experts clearly say a strong earthquake affecting a major urban centre like Sylhet may result in damage and destruction of massive proportions and may have very long term consequences for the entire country. Like most major urban centres in our country, Sylhet has grown tremendously in the last few decades due to unabated migration from the smaller towns and rural areas. As a result, the city has developed in an unplanned way with little consideration for proper town planning norms. Moreover, about 80 per cent of the buildings were constructed without following the building code.
Iqbal Siddiquee, Journalist
In order to foster greater cultural and commercial tie many cities across the world will link up and become 'Sister cities' or 'Twin towns'. This is usually a community led partnership though support are also provided by the government.
Sylhet is Sister cities with:
- Tower Hamlets, London, UK
- City of Westminster, Marylebone, London, UK
- St Albans City & District Council, Hertfordshire, UK
- Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council, Greater Manchester, UK
- Amman, Amman Governorate, Jordan
Places of worship & mazars (shrine)
Sylhet parks & stadiums
- Muhammad Ataul Ghani (MAG) Osmani (1 Sept 1918 - 16 Feb 1984) Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of Bangladesh Forces during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. Popularly referred to as 'Bongabir' (Brave Bengali) General Osmani. Born in Dayamir, Sylhet. Fought in WWII in Burma for British Indian Army (1939-1947). Shifted to Pakistani Army after 1947 partition and became a Colonel. Fought internally with superiors for rights of Bengali soliders. Joined Awami League and was elected MNA in the 1970 Pakistan general elections from Sylhet. Bangladesh Forces (military, air and navy) formed under his command during 1971 Muktijuddho. Retired in April 1972 as the first full General (four star) of Bangladesh Forces, which was replaced by Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Navy and Bangladesh Air Force and three separate chiefs were selected. Thus 'General MAG Osmani' is the only historical name whose name appears first in the honour boards of the three services as C-in-C between 12 April 1971 to 7 April 1972. Controversially joined Khandaker Moshtaque Ahmed's cabinet as Defence Advisor after Sheikh Mujib's murder in 15 August 1975. Formed Jatiya Janata Party (1977-1984) and stood unsuccessfully against Ziaur Rahman for presidentship in 1978. Sylhet's Osmani International Airport (Osmani Antorjatik Biman Bondor), state-run hospital Sylhet Osmani Medical College and Hospital (popularly referred to as Osmani Hospital), Sylhet (MAG Osmani) Stadium, and (Osmani) Shishu Udyan named after him. Died as a bachelor, aged 66, on 16 February 1984 in St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, whilst receiving treatment for cancer. Buried next to mother in Shah Jalal Dargah, Sylhet with full military honours.
- Hason Raja (1854 - 1922) Zamindar, mystic & poet. Born in Sunamganj.
- M. A. (Mohammad Abdur) Rab (1919 - 1975) Bir Uttam. Assistant Commander-in-Chief of Liberation war and first Army Chief of Bangladesh. Born in village of Khagaura, Baniachang thana, Sylhet. Founded the Muktijoddha Kalyan Trust and ran it successfully for years. Former MP. Chairman of the governing body of International Medical College. Died a bachelor on 14 November 1975 at the Combined Military Hospital, Dhaka, after suffering from ailments including anemia. Buried in his village of Umednagar on the banks of Khowai River in Habiganj. http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=182371
- Abdul Malek (Born 1 Dec 1929) Cardiologist and National Professor of Bangladesh. Former Brigadier. Passed matriculation from Sylhet Government Pilot High School (1947), intermediate from MC College, Sylhet (1949, getting 11th position in whole Pakistan), MBBS from Dhaka Medical College (1954), one of only 5 students to do so. Pakistan Army Medical Corps (1955) and travelled to UK and got Membership of the Royal College of Physicians from Glasgow (1964), and received higher training in Cardiology at Hammersmith Hospital, Post Graduate Medical School London and some other hospitals in UK (1964 - 1966). First cardiologist of newly formed Pakistan in 1947. Established first Cardiac unit in Pakistan at Military Hospital Rawalpindi in March 1966 and carried out first open heart surgery in Pakistan (March 1970) in this cardiac unit. For this achievement, he was awarded Nationally and was promoted as Lieutenant Colonel. Joined Institute of Post Graduate Medicine and Research, Dhaka (now Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University) in June 1970 and established cardiac unit there. Served as Professor of Cardiology (1970 - 1978), founder director and professor of National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, Dhaka (1978 - 1989). The first open heart surgery in Bangladesh was done on 18 September 1981 in this institution. Founded National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh (1978). Adviser to various presidents including President Ayub Khan and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Various high profile position and membership including Expert Panel Committee of World Health Organization (WHO) on Cardiovascular Disease (1976 - 2000), Vice-President of Asian Pacific Society of Cardiology (1994 - 1999), founder president of Bangladesh Cardiac Society (1980 - 2005), Honorary Secretary General of National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh, and many more. Fellow of Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh Scotland, Bangladesh College of Physicians & Surgeons, American College of Cardiology and American College of Chest Physicians (USA). Awarded Swadhinata Purushkar (Independence Day Award, 2004) and designated 'National Professor' (2006) by Government of Bangladesh. Wrote three books 'Alor Poth' and 'Jiboner Kichhu Katha' and 'Jibon, Jagot Safolota'. Born in village of Paschim Bhag, South Surma upazilla, Sylhet. Son of Moulvi Furkan Ali and Syeda Nurun Nesa Khatun. Wife Ashrafunnesa Khatun is a social worker, daughter Fazilatunnesa an eminent cardiologist and Senior Chief Consultant at National Heart Foundation Hospital & Research Institute, Dhaka, son Masud Malik an industrialist and another son Manzur an Union Researcher.
- Govinda Chandra Dev (1907 - 1971) Professor of Philosophy at the University of Dhaka. Born in Beani Bazaar, Sylhet. He was executed in 1971 by the Pakistan Army along with 10 other teachers in 25th March Dhaka University Massacre as part of a plan to eliminate the Bangladeshi intelligentsia.
- M. A. (Mahbub Ali) Khan (- 6 Aug 1984) Chief of Bangladesh Navy. Also acted as Minister of Communication of Bangladesh Government. Daughter Dr. Zubaida Rahman is married to Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) senior vice-president Tarique Rahman, son of Ziaur Rahman. Died of heart attack after he fall sick when he was supervising rescue of a F-27 aircraft of Bangladesh Biman which crushed while landing at Dhaka Kurmitola Airport.
- Md. Saifur Rahman (6 Oct 1932 – 5 Sept 2009) Longest serving (12 years) Finance Minister of Bangladesh. Member of BNP (Bangladesh Jatiotabadi/Nationalist Party). Born in village of Baharmardan in Moulvi Bazar district. Initially held Trade & Commerce Minister for 3 years. Vice-president of the Dhaka University's Salimullah Muslim Hall during 1952 Basha Andolan. Graduated (1953) with a B.Com (Hons). Prolific Chartered Accountant - qualified from Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales. President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs, and United Nations Association of Bangladesh. Presided over the golden jubilee conference of World Bank and International Monetary Fund as elected governor at Madrid, Spain in 1994. Founded multiple educational institutions such as Sylhet Agricultural University, Sylhet Teacher's Training College, and Sylhet Engineering College. Awarded Ekushey Padak (2005). Died in a road crash on 5 September 2009 in Brahmanbaria District on his way to Dhaka from his home. A total of 5 janazah prayers were held for him and BNP held 3-day mourning for the passing.
- Humayun Rashid Choudhury (1928 - 2001) Former Speaker of Jatiya Sangsad (1996 - 2001). Elected president of the 41st session of the UN General Assembly in 1986. Graduated from Aligarh Muslim University (1947) and Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Massachusetts, USA. During Muktijuddho he served as the Chief of the Bangladesh Mission in New Delhi in 1971-1972 during which he negotiated the recognition of Bangladesh by over 40 countries. Minister of Foreign Affairs (1985-1986) in President Ershad's cabinet. Awarded the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Prize (1984) by College of William and Mary, Virginia, United States, in recognition of his contribution to world peace through his diplomatic activities. Fluent in Bengali, English, Urdu, French and Italian, and had a working knowledge of Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Indonesian. Died with heart attack in Dhaka on 10 July 2001.
- C. R. (Chitta Ranjan) Dutta (Born 1 Jan 1927) Bir Uttam. Sector 5 (Sylhet) Commander during 1971 Mukhtijuddho. Formed the Sector Commanders Forum with other prominent members from Bangladesh Liberation War. A leader of Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity Council (BHBCUC).
- Azizur Rahman (Born ) Bir Uttam. Sub-sector Commander of Sector 3 (Sylhet) during 1971 Mukhtijuddho. Graduated from Habiganj Government High College (1959). Joined the then Pakistan Army in 1966 and fought against them five years later to liberate Bangladesh. Left Bangladesh Army in 1999.
- Mainul Hossain Chowdhury (1940 - 2010) Bir Bikrom. Commander of the second Bengal Regiment of Z Force during the War of Liberation in 1971. Ex Industries, Post and Telecommunications and Home Adviser of the caretaker government in 2001. Led ‘guard of honour’ given to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on his return home from Pakistan jail on 10 January 1972. Died of cancer in Square Hospital, Dhaka. Left behind one son & one daughter.
- Syed Mujtaba Ali (13 Sept 1904 - 11 Feb 1974) Author, academician, scholar and linguist. Born in Karimganj (now part of Assam, India). Mother tongue was Bengali but he knew 15 languages including French, German, Italian, Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Hindi, Sanskrit, Marathi, Gujarati, Pashtu, English and several dialects of Bengali.
- Abul Maal Abdul Muhith (Born 6 Oct 1934) Finance Minister of Bangladesh Government since January 2009. Published 21 books on different subjects including administrative and liberation war affairs. Qualified with first class first in B.A (Hons.) in English literature from Dhaka University (1954). Also studied at Oxford University and received MPA Degree from Harvard University (1963-64).
- Abdus Samad Azad (15 Jan 1922 – 27 Apr 2005) First Foreign Minister after 1971 Independence. Born in Burakhali village, Sunamganj. Elected to Parliament 5 times representing Awami League. Agriculture Minister in 1973. Imprisoned after Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's killing in 1975 and released in 1978. Appointed Foreign Minister again (1996-2001) under Sheikh Hasina-led AL government. Died of stomach cancer in Dhaka hospital. Buried in Banani Koborstan (Graveyard), Dhaka.
- Dilwar Khan (Born 1 Jan 1937) Known as "Gono Manusher Kabi" (Poet of the People). Famous for describing struggles of the lower class through poems, short stories, essays and journal articles. Work include 'Shobdokor Matir Jogotay', 'Gighasha', 'Pubal Howha', 'Bangladesh Jonmo Na Nelay', 'Dilwar Rer Shadinotar Kobita', and 'Dui Meru, Dui Dana'. Received Bangla Academy Award (1980) and Ekushey Padak (2008).
- Shahed Ali (24 May 1925 - 7 Nov 2001) Educationist, cultural activist and a reputed author. Born at Mahmudpur village, Tahirpur Upazila, Sunamganj, Sylhet. Graduated from Sylhet MC College (1947) and passed MA in Bangla Language and Literature from Dhaka University (1950). One of the founders of Tamaddun Majlish which spearheaded 1947-1952 Bhasha Andolon. Wrote more than 50 books, amongst which he is acclaimed for the novel Hrday Nadi (1965) and six books of short fiction namely - Jibrailer Dana (1953), Ekai Samatale (1963), Sha'Nazar (1985), Atit Rater Kahini (1986), Amar Kahini (1987) and Natun Zamindar (1992). Bichar (1987), his only playlet, is admired in drama circles. Recipient of a number of awards, prizes and medals such as Bangla Academy Award (1964), Tamgha-i -Imtiaz (1969), Ekushey Padak (1989).
- Jamilur Reza Choudhury (Born 1941) Vice Chancellor of University of Asia Pacific and Former Professor of Civil Engineering, BUET. Graduated from BUET (1963) and became a lecturer in the Civil Engineering department in the same year. Received M.Sc. Engineering Degree in Advanced Structural Engineering and Ph. D. from University of Southampton (1968). Primary engineer of Padma bridge. A former Adviser to the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh.
- Sundari Mohan Das () http://sundarimohan.org
- Muhammed Zafar Iqbal (Born 1952) Popular author and journalist. Professor of Computer Science at Shahalal University of Science & Technology. Younger brother of famous author Humayun Ahmed.
- M. A. Majid () Former op-ed editor of Daily Dawn
- Jalal Ahmad (Born 1959) Architect. Completed bachelor of architecture from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) and established Diagram Architects (1983) with two other partners. Later started own architectural firm J. A. Architects (1997). Won the Mujib Nagar Memorial Open Design Competition (1984) and North South University Campus International Design Competition (2002). Founding member of architectural research group CHETANA (1983) along with eminent architect Muzharul Islam. Notable works include Scholastica School at Dhaka and Savar, Training And Resource Center BRAC at Faridpur, Rangpur and Bogra, and Dominic Residence in Tanzania. Awarded IAB Architect of the Year Award. General Secretary of Institute of Architects Bangladesh (IAB) and Vice president of Commonwealth Association of Architects.
- Suranjit Sengupta (Born ) MP
- Subir Nandi (Born ) Playback Singer. Hits include 'Koto Je Tumake Behshehcii Bhalo', 'Bondhu Hote Chaye Tumar', 'Ekta Chilo Shunar Konna', and 'Oo Amar Ural Ponkhi Re'. Trained in classical music under Ustad Babar Ali Khan. National Film Award's Best Singer winner for films 'Mahanayak' and 'Shuvada'. Father was a doctor and medical officer. Born in Teliapara Tea Estate, Sylhet, along with 9 other siblings.
- Salman Shah (aka Shahriar Chowdhury Imon) (1970 - 1996) Popular film actor. Mysterious death as discovered hanging from his ceiling home. Widely believed wife Samira behind Salman's death as he was romantically linked with co-actor Shabnur, though nobody ever held officially responsible. Buried in Shah Jalal Mazar, Sylhet.
- Kaiser Hamid (Born ) Former footballer gained fame in the 1980s and 1990s as a central defender for Mohammedan Sporting Club in Dhaka's domestic league. Represented Bangladesh national team. Received Bangladesh National Sports Award (2003).
- Dineshchandra Datta () Professor of English
- Harun Ahmed Chowdhury ( - ) Bir Uttom
- M. R. Chowdhury ( - ) Bir Uttom
- Ejaz Ahmed Choudhury ( - ) Bir Uttom A war hero of 3 Sector
- Imamuzzaman ( - ) Bir Bikrom
Important information, tips, hints, ...ittadhi
- Sylhet city's official website: www.sylhetcitycorporationbd.com
- Sylhet district's official website: www.dcsylhet.gov.bd
- Osmani International Airport telephone: 741532-42
- Hospital telephone:
- Railway: 843201-10
- Police Control Room: 639022
- Shops opening hours: 11am - 7pm everyday except Friday when they're closed.
- Coach station: located near Kean Bridge.
- Shah Paran mazar: located approximately 3 miles east of city centre. There's no top class hotel nearby so most people wishing to visit it for few days will have to travel into the city for residence.
- Traffic manned by police: traffic warden operate busy crossroads e.g. Amberkhana Point, Chowatta Point. There are very few or no traffic lights.
May Allah bless Sylhet and our People. Ameen.