Details of Sylhet District

Background, Geographic Area and Location: The area now constitutes Sylhet district was once a part of the Kingdom of Jaintia. It is situated on the bank of the river Surma. There are different opinions about the origin of the district name. The general belief is that in the remote past a trading centre (locally known as hatta) of grinding stones (meaning Syl) was developed at the foot of hilly areas where the district headquarters is located. In consequence, the district came to be known as Srihatta. Subsequently it was renamed as Sylhet. The district is bounded on the north by India, on the east by India, on the south by Maulvibazar district, and on the west by Sunamganj and Habiganj districts. The total area of the district is 3452.07 sq. km. (1332.00 sq. miles). The district lies between 24º 36' and 25º 11' north latitudes and between 91º 38' and 92º 30' east longitudes.

Annual Average Temperature: Maximum 33.2°C and minimum 13.6°C; annual rainfall 3334 mm.

Main Rivers: SURMA and KUSHIYARA. HAORs 82; Shingua Beel (12.65 sq km) and Chatla Beel (11.86 sq km) are notable; reserve forest 236.42 sq km. Parts of Khasia and Jainta hills are included in this district. Notable tilas and hills are Jaintapur (54 m), Sary Tila (92 m), Lalkhan Tila (135 m), Dhaka Daksmin Tila series (77.7 m).

The rapid growth and expansion of Sylhet occurred during the colonial period. Sylhet Municipality was established in 1878. A devastated earthquake demolished almost the entire town on 12 June 1897. On the wreckage a modern and European model new town was built later on. Many new roads were constructed in late 1890s. Sylhet became really connected to the other parts of the country with the establishment of an extension line of Asam-Bengal Railway in 1912-15. From the very beginning of the 20th century, importance of Sylhet town increased with the establishment of tea industry. In 1950s and 1960s, rapid urbanisation took place in the town by the expatriate Syleties and still the process is going on. At present, Sylhet is the district-headquarter as well as the divisional headquarter.

Administration: Sylhet district was established on 3 January 1782. Until 1878, Sylhet was under the jurisdiction of DHAKA division. In the same year, Sylhet was included in the newly created Asam Province. Up to 1947 (excepting the Banga Bhanga period of 1905-1911) it remained a part of Asam. In 1947, as a result of a referendum, it was attached to the East Pakistan and was included in the Chittagong Division. The greater Sylhet was divided into four new districts viz Sylhet, Sunamganj, Habiganj and Maulvi Bazar in 1983-84. On 1 August 1995 Sylhet was declared as the 6th division of the country consisting of the four districts of the greater Sylhet. The district consists of 1 City Corporation, 12 upazilas, 101 unions, 1693 mauzas, 3497 villages, 27 City Wards, 4 paurashavas, 36 wards and 224 mahallas. The upazilas are Balaganj, Beanibazar, Biswanath, Companiganj, Dakshin Surma, Fenchuganj, Golapganj, Gowainghat, Jointiapur, KanaighatSylhet Sadar and Zakiganj.

Archaeological Heritage and Relics: Stone monument of Jaintapur, Mound of Gharduara, Gaiyabi Mosque, tombs of Hazrat SHAH JALAL (R) and SHAH PARAN (R), Abu Torab Mosque, Nawabi Masque, Mughal Mosque at Akhalia, Dhaka Dakshmin Temple, Tin Mandir (trio temple).

Historical Events: Sylhet is an ancient settlement area. It was known as Jalalabad in Sultani period. From the Pashchimbagh brass plate engraved by the Maharaja Shreechandra in 10th century, it could be assumed that he conquered Sylhet. Many historians think that Sylhet or Sreehatta (enriched market place) was an expanded commercial centre from the ancient period. A large number of Bengalis migrated to Sylhet. In the 14th century, Muslim saint from Yemen Hazrat Shah Jalal (R) triumphed Sylhet and began to preach Islam. The Pathan valiant Khawja Osman fought against the Mughal with the help of local feudal. During the SEPOY REVOLT in 1857 the British traders defeated the mutinous. The Nankar revolt is another important event in the history of Sylhet. The Nankars were the serf of the zamindars. As a result of Nankar and other similar revolts the Nankar system was abolished in 1950.

In 1927, when Sylhet was still a part of the Asam, the politicians (MLAs) got the right of speaking in Bangla in the Provincial Council. In favour of declaring Bangla as the state-language an editorial was published in the local Al Islah after the emergence of Pakistan in 1947.

Marks of War of Liberation: Mass killing site 9, mass grave 13, memorial monument 14 and memorial statue 1.

Main Crops: Paddy, mustard, betel nut.

Main Fruits: Mango, jackfruit, orange, lichi, Pineapple.

Mineral Resources: NATURAL GAS, crude oil.

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