WHY TO VISIT BANGLADESH
Still not a touristic destination, Bangladesh is definitely a place to discover before the others get here. Dhaka, the Capital, beside the River Buriranga, dates back to the Mongolian era. You will be spellbound by the pink baroque palace, enthralled by the Lalbagh Fort, the National Museum, the Hussain Dalan Mosque and the multitude of rickshaws of all kinds that weave their way through the town.
Chittagong, by the River Karnapuli, has various monuments and buildings worthy of your interest; mosques, an ethnological museum and the area of Fairy Hill where you will discover fantastic panoramas. Around 60 kilometres away are the Chittagong Hill Tracts, These are valleys covered by a deep jungle and populated by Buddhist tribes - please note you cannot access all these areas. Places you should visit are the Kaptai Lake and its fishing villages. Continue to the huge beach at Cox’Bazar close to Myanmar (previously known as Burma) which is the only sea resort in the country.
Another place not to be missed is the Somapuri Vihara Monastery dating back to the 8th Century, the most outstanding archaeological site of Bangladesh that extends across 11 hectares. Finally, the Sundarbans National Park is the largest mangrove on the planet and constitutes a protected wildlife reserve: Bengali Tigers, Spotted Deer, living alongside the fisherman that make use of tamed otters to fish, populating this sanctuary that you can only visit if you purchase a permit and are accompanied by a guide.
WHAT TO SEE IN BANGLADESH
Top destinations in Bangladesh are:
- Cox's Bazar
- The Sundarbans
- Saint Martin
WHEN TO GO TO BANGLADESH
Best period to visit Bangladesh is from March to June.
Tropical and sub-tropical, the country’s climate divides the year into three large seasons: A wet season, the monsoons, which last from May to October; a cooler season between October and February where the temperatures are around 21°C; and the dry season between March to May when rain is rare and temperatures are around 30°C.
Hurricanes are possible around May and June as well as October and November.
The cool season is the best time to discover the country from the point of view of comfort.
The monsoon season can bring rather heavy rainfall at times making travel in certain areas impossible.
Following a list of typical festival and celebrations of Bangladesh.
- Pahela Baishakh: The advent of Bengali New Year is gaily observed throughout the country. The Day (mid-April) is a public holiday. Most colorful daylong gatherings along with arrangement of cultural program and traditional Panta at Ramna Park, Dhaka is a special feature of Pahela Baishakh. Tournaments, boat races etc. are held in cities and villages amidst great jubilation. Many fairs are held in Dhaka and other towns and villages.
- Independence Day: March 26 is the day of Independence of Bangladesh. It is the biggest state festival. This day is most befittingly observed and the capital wears a festive look. It is a public holiday. The citizens of Dhaka wake up early in the morning with the booming of guns heralding the day. Citizens including government leaders and sociopolitical organizations and freedom fighters place floral wreaths at the National Martyrs Monument at Savar. Bangla Academy, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy and other socio-cultural organizations hold cultural functions. At night the main public buildings are tastefully illuminated to give the capital city a dazzling look. Similar functions are arranged in other parts of the country.
- National Mourning Day and World Mother Language Day: 21 February is observed throughout the country to pay respect and homage to the sacred souls of the martyrs' of Language Movement of 1952. Blood was shed on this day at the Central Shahid Minar (near Dhaka Medical College Hospital) area to establish Bangla as a state language of the then Pakistan. All subsequent movements including struggle for independence owe their origin to the historic language movement. The Shahid Minar (martyrs monument) is the symbol of sacrifice for Bangla, the mother tongue. The day is closed holiday. Mourning procedure begin in Dhaka at midnight with the song Amar vaier raktay rangano ekushay February (21st February, the day stained with my brothers' blood). Nationals pay homage to the martyrs by placing flora wreaths at the Shahid Minar. Very recently the day has been declared World Mother Language Day by UNESCO.
- Eid-e-Miladunnabi: is the birth and death day of Prophet Muhammad (s). He was born and died the same day on 12th Rabiul Awal (Lunar Month). The day is national holiday, national flag is flown atop public and private houses and special food is served in orphanages, hospitals and jails. At night important public buildings are illuminated and milad mahfils are held.
- Eid-ul-Fitr: The biggest Muslim festival observed throughout the world. This is held on the day following the Ramadan or the month of fasting. In Dhaka big congregations are held at the National Eidgah and many mosques.
- Eid-ul-Azha: Second biggest festival of the Muslims. It is held marking the Hajj in Mecca on the 10th Zilhaj, the lunar month. Eid congregations are held throughout the country. Animals are sacrificed in reminiscence of Hazrat Ibrahim's (AM) preparedness for the supreme sacrifice of his beloved son to Allah. It is a public holiday.
- Muharram: Muharram procession is a ceremonial mournful procession of Muslim community. A large procession is brought out from the Hussaini Dalan Imambara on 10th Muharram in memory of the tragic martyrdom of Imam Hussain (RA) on this day at Karbala in Iraq. Same observations are made elsewhere in the country.
- Durga Puja: Durga Puja, the biggest festival of the Hindu community continues for ten days, the last three days being culmination with the idol immersed in rivers. In Dhaka the big celebrations are held at Dhakeswari Temple, where a fair is also held and at the Ram Krishna Mission.
- Christmas: Christmas, popularly called "Bara Din (Big Day)", is celebrated with pomp in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country. Several day-long large gatherings are held at St. Mary's Cathedral at Ramna, Portuguese Church at Tejgaon, Church of Bangladesh (Protestant) on Johnson Road and Bangladesh Baptist Sangha at Sadarghat Dhaka. Functions include illumination of churches, decorating Christmas tree and other Christian festivities.
- Rabindra & Nazrul Jayanti: Birth anniversary of the noble laureate Rabindranath Tagore on 25th Baishakh (May) and that of the National Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam on 11th Jaystha (May) are observed throughout the country. Their death anniversaries are also ma
- Shakrain Festival: Celebrated especially in Old Dhaka, Shakrain Festival (also known as Kite Festival) is observed at the end of the Bengali month Poush or January 14 or 15. This is day is also known as Poush Shangkranti. The major attraction of this festival is that people of all ages gather around their rooftop with their kites in the afternoon. They fly their kites high and sometimes this festival often brings the epic and exciting kite fighting. Each participant attempts to snag each other’s kite. At the night, people crack their fireworks in a way to light up the sky of old Dhaka. This gets even more exciting with the flame-eaters skills of fire show.
- Lalon Mela: Lalon Shah is one of most acclaimed and prominent philosopher from Bangladesh. His distinctive tradition of philosophy is still being carried out through thousands of songs and composition which he wrote during his lifetime. His vision on human life is the fundamental base of Baul culture and tradition which is now currently appreciated and studied by major researchers all over the world. Every year on the first week of April, a fair is organized following Lalon Shah’s birth anniversary by the devotees. The fair is held at the akhra (the place where Lalon lived) situated in Kushtia. The entire place goes through colorful decoration on this occasion. Thousands devotees from both abroad and Bangladesh gather in the Akhra to celebrate this day. With ektara and other musical instrument, the singers of Lalon Academy perform Lalon’s song all through the night during this fair. With the hymn of thousands unique composition, the devotees from all around the world remember the veracity of his philosophical thoughts.
- Fair of Ashwin Sankranti: Dated back to 200 years, Ashwin Sankranti is held in Khulshi village of Durgapur upazila for the first three days of Bengali month of Aswin. People from the surrounding areas gather around this fair to celebrate the life and cheerfulness. The chief attraction of this fair is circus show. Jilapi (sweet made of flour and sugar juice), traditional handicrafts, household items, puffed rice, jewelry, pottery etc are major attractions and exhibits of this fair.
- Fair of Ghoshbila: The fair of Ghoshbila, also known as Baruni fair, is organized in the village Ghoshbila under Alamdanga upazila of Chuadanga district to commemorate the day of goddess Ganga’s arrival in a ghat. The legend says that the goddess Ganga appeared on that ghat which is considered as a holy place by the Hindus. The major attraction of this fair is the holy bath. People from neighboring countries and all over Bangladesh come to the ghat and take this holy bath in the Kumar river to purify themselves with considering this bath as holy as Ganga bath.
- Kothin Chibor Dan Utsab: ‘Kothin Chibor Dan’ is the greatest religious festival of the Buddhist community where ‘viksus’ are given ‘chibor’ or cloth to wear which the Buddhists believe as the best of all gifts. Chibor, the cloth that viksus wear, may be of any six colors: those of a tree’s roots, trunk, bark, dry leaves, fruit or flower. This utsab or festival is celebrated with religious fervor at Rangamati Rajban Bihara in the Rangamati hill district. Buddhist community from all three hill districts as well many visitors and tourists from home and abroad gather at Rangamati Rajban Bihara area to participate in the festival. The elaborated schedule of this programme includes Buddha puja, Ful puja, Sibli puja, feeding the monks, astaporiskardan, taking Panchshil and Astashil and praying for world peace.
- Langalbandh Fair: Every year on the 8th day of the Iunar month falls in the Bengali month of Chaitra, thousands of Hindu devotees from home and abroad assemble on the banks of the old Brahmaputra river for Astami snan, a ritual bath in the river. On the occasion, a three-day fair is held in this place, starting before the day of Ashtami snan (Bath) and ending a day after the bathing ceremony. The main attractions of the fair are exhibits, like pottery and products made of bamboo – cane and thread (like hand fans). These exhibits are very popular among the devotees visiting the place. Sweetmeat stalls do brisk business during the fair.
- Shib Chaturdashi Fair: Shib Chaturdashi Fair continues for three consecutive days following the religious rituals where thousands of devotees gather in a Shiva temple at night on 14th Falgun. The Shiva has a history dated back to thousand years. The temple stands at the top of Chandranath hill located at Sitakunda in Chittagong. This fair is one of the oldest fairs in the entire subcontinent.
- Gurpukur Fair: Every year the last day of the Bengali month of Bhadra is the occasion for worshipping the snake goddess (Monsha Puja), and a fair is held on the occasion at Shatkhira in a place named Gurpukur. Legend has it that during the 11th century A.D. towards the end of the Bengali month of Bhadra a person while walking became tired and fell asleep under a banyan tree at Palash Paul. When he woke up, he found a deadly cobra shading him from sunlight. From that legend the worshipping of the snake goddess began at that place and the Gurpukur fair also started side by side. The fair continues for one month. The main exhibits at the fair are furniture made of Sundarbans wood and fruit plants. Moreover, entertainments like puppet shows, magic shows and Jatra (folk theatre) are also arranged. Since 1992, the idea borrowed from Gurpukur Mela was nationally replicated in all district and upazila townships in the form of Brikkha Mela (tree fairs). This was done to strengthen tree planting movement in the country.
- Golakandail Fair: From the 1st day of the Bengali month of Magh – 7, a fair is held in Golakandail village of Rupganj upazila under Narayanganj district for seven days under a big banyan tree. Nobody knows the origin of the fair but it has continued for ages and is full of fun and festivity. The main items sold at the fair are wooden furniture, cane products, pottery, plastic toys. During the fair, there are arrangements for the entertainment of local people, such as Jatra (folk theatre), puppet show, film show, etc.
- Fair of Adinath: Moheshkhali is an island under Cox’s Bazar district not very far from the mainland. There, the Adinath temple at the top of Mainak hillock is a place of worship for Hindu devotees. A landlord named Nur Mohammad Shikdar donated 200 acres of land to reconstruct the age-old Adinath Temple. The fair associated with the temple started from that time. Every year in the Bengali month of Falgun, especially during Krishnapakkha, the thirteen days fair is held at the foot of the hillock on land facing the vast sea. The sweet water of green coconuts especially grown in this place is a most attractive and popular drink. Devotees and visitors to the fair drink it before worshipping the goddess of Adinath.
- Honey Full Moon Festival: or Honey-offering Festival is a Buddhist festival celebrated iespecially in the region of Chittagong . It occurs on the day of the full moon in the Bangla month of Bhadro (August/September).
- Kathina: is a Buddhist festival which comes at the end of Vassa, the three-month rainy season retreat for Theravada Buddhists. The season during which a monastery may hold Kathina is one month long, beginning after the full moon of the eleventh month in the Lunar calendar (usually October).
- Buddha Purnima - Buddha's Birthday: is a holiday traditionally celebrated in Mahayana Buddhism to commemorate the birth of the Prince Siddhartha Gautama, later the Gautama Buddha and founder of Buddhism.
- Rokeya Day: is the 9 December anniversary of the birth and death of Begum Rokeya, a Bengali writer, educationist, social activist, and advocate of women's rights. The day is organized and celebrated by schools, colleges and universities of Bangladesh, as well as the Bengali Government, as a tribute to her works and legacy. On that day, Bangladesh government confers Begum Rokeya Padak on individual women for their exceptional achievement.
- Rabindra Jayanti: is an annually celebrated cultural festival, prevalent among Bengalis around the world, in the remembrance of Rabindranath Tagore's birthday anniversary. Every year, numerous cultural programmes & events, such as : Kabipranam (কবিপ্রণাম) – the songs (Rabindra Sangeet), poetries, dances and dramas, written and composed by Tagore, are organised in this particular day, by various schools, colleges & universities of Bengal, and also celebrated by different groups abroad, as a tribute to Tagore and his works.
- Nazrul Jayanti: is the birthday of Kazi Nazrul Islam the national poet of Bangladesh on 24 May. The day is organized and celebrated by various schools, colleges & universities of Bengal, and also celebrated by Bengalis around the world, as a tribute to Nazrul and his works.
- Dhaka World Music Festival: (dhakainternationalfolkfest.com) also referred to as Dhaka World Music Fest is an international music festival held in Dhaka, Bangladesh featuring national and international music stars of different genres. The festival covers an extensive scope of performances from local folk and traditional music genres to world fusion and contemporary world music across the globe. The festival is perceived to be a cardinal platform in Bangladesh to witness the true fusion in the form of world music.
- Bengal-ITC SRA Classical Music Festival: (http://www.bengalfoundation.org) is a major South Asian classical music festival held in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. It is one of the world's largest music festivals devoted to South Asian classical music and draws leading musicians from India and Bangladesh.
- Pahela Falgun - Spring festival: first day of Spring of Bengali month Falgun, of the Bengali calendar, celebrated in Bangladesh it was started in 1991 by students of Dhaka University's Faculty of Fine Arts. The first of Falgun usually falls on 13 February of the Gregorian Calendar. This day is marked with colourful celebration and traditionally, women wear yellow saris to celebrate this day. This celebration is also known as Basanta Utsab.
- Nabanna - Winter and harvest festival: is a Bengali harvest celebration usually celebrated with food and dance and music in Bangladesh and in the Indian State of West Bengal. It is a festival of food; many local preparations of Bengali cuisine like pithe are cooked and offered.
- Barsha Utsab - Monsoon festival: is a day-long Monsoon salutation festival celebrated in Bangladesh. The festival date is set according to the lunisolar Bengali calendar as the first day of its third month Asharh, usually falls on 13 June of the Gregorian Calendar. This day is marked with colourful celebration included singing performances, drama, poetry recitation, screening of cinemas on rain, puppet show, Hilsha Fest and many other programmes. Traditionally women wear sky blue saris to celebrate the first day of Wet season.
- Dhaka Art Summit: is an art summit held in Dhaka, Bangladesh and is organised by Samdani Art Foundation, a non- profit art infrastructure development organisation founded by Nadia Samdani and Rajeeb Samdani in 2011. The summit displays artworks such as paintings, photography, sculptures, installations, digital art, video art.
- Dhaka Literary Festival: (also known as Dhaka Lit Fest) (www
.hayfestival .com) is a literary festival held in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka. It was founded by the patrons of the Hay Festival of Literature and Arts in the United Kingdom. Hay Dhaka was founded by Peter Florence and Tahmima Anam in 2011, and has taken place annually since then.Hay Festival Dhaka
- Dhaka Fashion Week (www.dhakafashionwk.com)
- Dhaka International Film Festival (DIFF): (www.dhakafilmfestival.org) is a biennial film festival held in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Established in 1992, the festival was initially organized on annual basis, but became a biennial event since 1995. DIFF is one of the most prestigious film events in Bangladesh, dedicated to introduce the mainstream global cinema to the local film makers as well as to promote healthy cine culture within Bangladesh. The festival was founded by the Rainbow Film Society, which has, as of 2012, organized 12 editions of the event bringing international recognition to it.
- Shakrain: is an annual celebration of winter in Bangladesh, observed with the flying of kites. It occurs at the end of Poush, the ninth month of the Bengali calendar (January 14 or 15 in Gregorian calendar). This day is known as Poush Sangkranti.
- Jatiya Pitha Utsab (cake festival): is an age-old festival during the winter season. This type of festival is frequently seen in the rural areas.
- Nouka Baich: is a traditional rowing sport of Bangladesh. The sport uses traditional Bangladeshi boats known as Nouka.Boats for Nouka Baich are long. Each team in a Nouka Baich competition consists of 25 to 100 members. Boats with motor engines are not allowed.
- Bisu Mela: is one the biggest cultural festival for Tanchangya people. In fact, it is observed mostly who follow the lunar year in the Asian continent. It falls in the month of April,the end of (old) following year and till the first day of New Year. For Tanchangya people Bisu Mela is a festival for enjoying and relaxation for the people. It is Bisu Mela in Tanchangya language. Particularly, every villages the people enjoy with grandeur festival.
HOW TO REACH AND TRAVEL THROUGH BANGLADESH
The simplest way to get there is by plane, arriving in Dhaka via Bangkok or Calcutta. Interior transport is relatively inexpensive, even by airplane. The train is fairly practical although travel arrangements can become complicated in certain areas. Travel by boat is often called for with certain destinations. In the towns, the use of rickshaws is common.
by plane, main airports are:
GENERAL INFORMATION ON BANGLADESH
country entry requirements: passport + visa (check your visa requirements)
health tips & vaccination: drink only bottled water and avoid ice. Vaccine against cholera, typhus, hepatitis A and B and malaria prophylaxis are recommended.
local currency: Bangladeshi Taka
local time zone: GMT+6
electricity: type C, D, G and K (220 V, 50 Hz)
mobile phone operators:
WHAT TO DO IN BANGLADESH
typical food in Bangladesh
- Achar: Pickled vegetables and fruit with mustard and spices
- Dal: The local name for lentils; dozens of types are served in dozens of different ways
- Biryani: Bengali-style fried rice, with curry spices and chicken
- Pulao: Fried rice with vegetables and spices, often served on special occasions
- Shami kebab: A grilled, highly spiced kebab made with minced meat
- Chotpoti: A stew of chickpeas, potatoes, eggs and spices
- Mishti doi: Sweetened yoghurt served as a desert; also called mitha dahi
- Ilish: Hilsa fish, frequently served in mustard seed flavoured curries
- Bhaji: Vegetables deep fried in lentil flour batter
- Cha: Milky sweet tea, made using local grown leaves
souvenirs from Bangladesh
- pink pearls
- handloom fabrics
- printed saris
- coconut masks
- bamboo products
- mother-of-pearl jewellery
- leather crafts
- wood and cane handicrafts
- folk dolls
How are you?: Āpani kēmana āchēna?
Thank you: Dhan'yabāda
What is your name?: Āpanāra nāma ki?
How much is it?: Ēṭā katōṭā?