Sylhet is a metropolitan city in northeastern Bangladesh. It is the administrative seat of the Sylhet Division. Located on the north bank of the Surma River at the eastern tip of Bengal, Sylhet has a subtropical climate and lush highland terrain. The city has a population of more than half a million and is one of the largest cities in Bangladesh after Dhaka, Chittagong and Khulna. Sylhet is one of Bangladesh’s most important spiritual and cultural centres. Furthermore, it is one of the most economically important cities after Dhaka and Chittagong. The city produces the highest amount of tea and natural gas.
In 1303, the Sultan of Lakhnauti Shamsuddin Firoz Shah conquered Sylhet by defeating Gour Govinda. Sylhet was a realm of the Bengal Sultanate. In the 16th-century, Sylhet was controlled by the Baro-Bhuyan zamindars and later became a sarkar (district) of the Mughal Empire. Sylhet emerged as the Mughals’ most significant imperial outpost in the east, and its importance remained as such throughout the seventeenth century. British rule began in the 18th century under the administration of the East India Company. Sylhet became a key source of lascars in the British Empire with its ancient seafaring tradition. The Sylhet municipal board was established in 1867. Originally part of the Bengal Presidency and later Eastern Bengal and Assam; the town was part of Colonial Assam between 1874 and 1947 when following a referendum and the partition of British India, it became part of East Bengal. The Sylhet City Corporation was constituted in 2001. The Government of Bangladesh designated Sylhet a metropolitan area in 2009.
The hinterland of the Sylhet valley is the largest oil and gas-producing region in Bangladesh. It is also the largest hub of tea production in Bangladesh. It is notable for its high-quality cane and agarwood. The city is served by the Osmani International Airport, which is named after General Bangabir M A G Osmani, the Commander-in-Chief of the Mukti Bahini during the Bangladesh Liberation War. People from Sylhet form a significant portion of the Bangladeshi diaspora, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States and other countries in the Middle East.
Etymology and names
In Bengal, Sylhet has been called as Srihôṭṭô or Srihatta since the ancient time in the Bengali and regional Siloti language. The name Sylhet is an anglicisation of Shilhot . Its origins seem to come from the Sanskrit according to the words of śilā (meaning stone) and (meaning marketplace). These words match the landscape and topography of the hilly region. The shila stones were abundant across Sylhet and the King Gour Govinda is known to have used stones to guard his capital. The word had changed to Shilhot due to the elision of letter-final অ ô in the Bengali language.
After the Conquest of Sylhet in 1303, the city colloquially became nicknamed as Jalalabad. It is made up of two words Jalal a name of Arabic origin meaning majesty but in this case referring to Shah Jalal, and Abad meaning settlement. This colloquial name continued to be used in the Mughal period. Currently, in the Sylhet City Corporation, there exists a metropolitan thana known as the Jalalabad Thana as well an area in its 7th ward.
In 1995, the Government of Bangladesh declared Sylhet as the sixth divisional headquarters of the country. Sylhet has played a vital role in the Bangladeshi economy. Several of Bangladesh’s finance ministers have been Members of Parliament from the city of Sylhet. Badar Uddin Ahmed Kamran was a longtime mayor of Sylhet. Humayun Rashid Choudhury, a diplomat from Sylhet, served as President of the UN General Assembly and Speaker of the Bangladesh National Parliament.
In 2001, the municipality was upgraded to the Sylhet City Corporation. It was made a metropolitan city in 2009.
Geography and climate
Sylhet is located at 24.8917°N 91.8833°E, in the northeastern region of Bangladesh within the Sylhet Division, the Sylhet District and Sylhet Sadar Upazila. Sylhet has a typical Bangladeshi tropical monsoon climate (Köppen Am) bordering on a humid subtropical climate (Cwa) at higher elevations. The rainy season starts from April to October and it is so hot and humid with very heavy showers and thunderstorms almost every day, whilst the short dry season starts from November to February and it is very warm and fairly clear. Nearly 80% of the annual average rainfall of 4,200 millimetres (170 in) occurs between May and September.
The city is located within the region where there are hills and basins which constitute one of the most distinctive regions in Bangladesh. The physiography of Sylhet consists mainly of hill soils, encompassing a few large depressions known locally as “beels” which can be mainly classified as oxbow lakes, caused by tectonic subsidence primarily during the earthquake of 1762.
Geologically, the region is complex having diverse sacrificial geomorphology; high topography of Plio-Miocene age. Available limestone deposits in different parts of the region suggest that the whole area was under the ocean in the Oligo-Miocene. In the last 150 years three major earthquakes hit the city, at a magnitude of at least 7.5 on the Richter Scale, the last one took place in 1918, although many people are unaware that Sylhet lies on an earthquake prone zone.
From Gabtoli, Fakirapul, Saidabad, and Mahakhali bus terminals in Dhaka, morning to 12.45 am, various AC/non-AC buses of the green line, Saudia, S Alam, Shyamoli, Ena, etc. left for Sylhet. The ticket price at Basved is Rs 475 to Rs 1200 per person.
How to go from Dhaka to Sylhet by train Station
From Kamalapur railway station, Parbat, Jayantika, Upobon, and Kalni Express trains travel towards Sylhet at different times of the day. The fare for the train by category ranges from Rs 265 to Rs 750 per person.
How to go from Chittagong to Sylhet by train Station
Two trains from Chittagong called Paharika, and Udayan Express left for Sylhet. The price of tickets per person ranges from Rs 375 to Rs 1200 per person in the category of these two trains.
You can visit the train’s website at the time of departure, weekly www.railway.gov.bd booking tickets online.
Flying to Sylhet?
You can visit the flight’s website at the time of departure, Weekly https://www.kayak.com booking tickets online.