Bangladesh

From Halal Explorer

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The People's Republic of Bangladesh is a nation in South Asia, on the edge of the Indian subcontinent. It is nearly completely neighbored by India, having a small land border with Myanmar in the southeast and a coastline facing the Bay of Bengal in the south. Except city-states, Bangladesh has the world's highest population density, with 163 million inhabitants (more people than Russia).

Many know Bangladesh only for its successful cricket team, of which local residents are very proud. However, this Muslim-majority nation has been lauded by the United Nations for its poverty reduction, swarmed by investors for its burgeoning economy and has taken the lead on global environmental issues. The next frontier for Bangladesh is tourism and it is fast developing its facilities to prepare for visitors to its numerous archaeological sites, pristine beaches, bustling markets and ancient masjids.

An Introduction to the Region of Bangladesh

Bangladesh has 8 administrative divisions:

  Dhaka Division
Home to the capital city, jute and Rice paddies.
  Chittagong Division
A picturesque hinterland of large hills, forests and beaches.
  Rajshahi Division
Known for its silk, mangoes and dozens of archaeological ruins.
  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 of rivers, paddies and green.
  Rangpur Division
Temples, culture and a rural lifestyle.
  Mymensingh Division
Recently split from the northern part of Dhaka division. Largest university In South Asia, culture, ethnic minor groups and a rural lifestyle.

Other Muslim friendly Cities in Bangladesh

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  • Dhaka - The hectic capital city, an intense and thriving metropolis of around 12 million people that's growing by the day
  • Barisal - Southern city famous for Paddy growing and many rivers, best reached by a slow-paced and relaxing boat ride on the Rocket Steamer
  • Chittagong - A bustling commercial centre and the largest international seaport in the nation
  • 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
  • Khulna - Located on the Rupsha River, famous for shrimp and a starting point for journeys into the Sundarbans.
  • Mymensingh - A historic city located by the side of river Brahmaputa, has got a rich cultural and political history dating back to more than 200 years
  • Sylhet - The largest city in the northeast, known for the shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Shahjalal, one of the holiest sites in the nation

During April 2018 and the government officially changed the English names of five of these regions to better reflect the Bangla pronunciation. Chittagong becomes Chattogram, Jessore Jashore, Comilla Cumilla, Barisal Barishal and Bogra Bogura.

Other Muslim Friendly Destinations in Bangladesh

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  • Cox's Bazar - The country's premier beach resort, filled to the brim with boisterous Bangladeshi holiday makers. and is the world's longest sea beach with kilometers 112 of sandy sea coast.
  • Bagerhat - An important historical centre and site of several masjids including the famous Shait Gumbad Masjid.
  • Char Atra - A low lying island in the Ganges.
  • Saint Martins Island - The country's only coral island with friendly local residents, a laid back vibe and coconuts to spare.
  • Sundarbans - The largest mangrove in the world, with lots of bird life and some very elusive Royal Bengal tigers.

Introduction to Bangladesh

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British India was partitioned by joint leaders of the Congress, All India-Muslim 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 1971 when Bengali-speaking East Pakistan seceded from its union with Punjabi-dominated West Pakistan after a 9-month war. Although Bangladesh emerged as an independent country only in 1971, 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 masjids and the largest mangrove forest in the world, interesting tribal villages and a wealth of elusive wild life. Although relatively impoverished compared to its burgeoning South Asian neighbour India, Bangladeshis are very friendly and hospitable people, putting personal hospitality before personal finances.

Ready-made garments, textiles, pharmaceuticals, agricultural goods, ship building and fishing are some of the largest industries.

Weather in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has a sub-tropical monsoon climate. There are six seasons in a year: winter (Dec-Jan), spring (February - Mar), summer (April - May), monsoon (June–July), autumn (August - Sep) and late autumn (October - Nov). The average temperature across the nation 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. It is recommended that you do not travel in the southern part of the nation (Khulna, Bagerhat, Chittagong, Cox's Bazar) during this season.

How is the Landscape of Bangladesh

The country is primarily a low-lying plain on the 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. Its fertile and mostly flat farmland and, with the exception of Chittagong Division|Chittagong Hill Tracts, rarely exceeds 10 metres above sea level, making it dangerously susceptible to a rise in sea level.

The highest point is Bijoy, at 1,231 metres.

Public Holidays in Bangladesh

  • Pohela Boishakh - The most widely celebrated secular national festival of the nation. 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 Bengali phrasebook|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 minutes after midnight on the 21st. Government offices are closed and expect traffic disruption from February 20.
  • Independence Day - March 26- On this day 'Father of the Nation' Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman proclaimed country's independence.
  • Victory Day - December 16- 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 Ramadan. Businesses close for at least a couple days, if not a week.
  • Eid-ul-Azha - Four days between September and October. The largest festival in the nation, it goes on for several days with festivities varying each day.
  • Christmas - December 25, This is the largest festival of Christian Community in the nation which is declared as a government holiday.

Largest Mosques in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is home to many beautiful and historically significant mosques. Here are some of the most famous:

Baitul Mukarram National Mosque

Located in the heart of Dhaka, Baitul Mukarram is the national mosque of Bangladesh. Completed in 1968, it is one of the largest mosques in South Asia. The mosque's architecture is unique, featuring a modern style while retaining the essence of traditional Islamic structures. Its large prayer hall can accommodate thousands of worshippers, especially during significant religious festivals like Eid.

Star Mosque (Tara Masjid)

Situated in Dhaka, the Star Mosque is renowned for its stunning mosaic decoration featuring blue stars on a white background. Built in the early 19th century, the mosque's design reflects Mughal architecture with influences from British colonial style. It is a popular tourist attraction and a cherished place of worship.

Sixty Dome Mosque (Shaṭ Gombuj Masjid)

Located in Bagerhat, the Sixty Dome Mosque is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Constructed in the mid-15th century by Khan Jahan Ali, this mosque is one of the largest in Bangladesh and is noted for its historic significance and unique architectural style. Despite its name, the mosque actually has 77 domes, including the seven over the central corridor.

Choto Sona Mosque (Small Golden Mosque)

Situated in the district of Chapai Nawabganj, the Choto Sona Mosque is another historical marvel from the Bengal Sultanate period. Built in the late 15th century, it is renowned for its intricate stone carvings and the gilded domes that give it its name. The mosque exemplifies the rich architectural heritage of the region.

Bayazid Bostami Shrine

Located in Chattogram, the Bayazid Bostami Shrine is not just a mosque but also a mausoleum, believed to be associated with the Persian Sufi Bayazid Bastami. The site is revered by many and attracts both devotees and tourists. The pond within the shrine complex, home to a unique species of turtle, adds to its mystique and charm.

Kusumba Mosque

This mosque is located in Naogaon District and dates back to the 16th century. It is one of the few surviving examples of Bengali brick mosque architecture. The Kusumba Mosque is known for its elegant stone carvings and the intricate details on its walls and pillars.

Nine Dome Mosque

Located in Bagerhat, near the Sixty Dome Mosque, the Nine Dome Mosque is another architectural gem from the 15th century. It is distinguished by its nine domes arranged in a three-by-three grid. The mosque’s historical and architectural significance makes it an important site for visitors.

Shat Gambuj Mosque in Tongi

Not to be confused with the Sixty Dome Mosque in Bagerhat, the Shat Gambuj Mosque in Tongi, near Dhaka, is another notable mosque. Built during the Mughal period, it is recognized for its many small domes and its large courtyard, which can accommodate a significant number of worshippers.

These mosques not only serve as places of worship but also as symbols of Bangladesh's rich cultural and historical heritage, attracting visitors from around the world.

Stay safe in Bangladesh

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Bangladesh is a country full of friendly and open-minded people.

Road signs and traffic lights are often ignored by cars and traffic jams are always a given, making it difficult for pedestrians to travel. It is wisest NOT to drive yourself or to walk major roads alone. Consequently, road travel (if absolutely necessary) is best undertaken with an experienced local driver in a good vehicle with safety belts. Use rickshaws with precaution; although a very authentic local drive, it is also the most dangerous vehicle for transport, especially on major routes (now being banned).

Medical Issues in Bangladesh

  • 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. Recommended brands: Mum, Fresh and Spa.
  • 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 city's, especially during the rainy and humid seasons and nets covering your bed at night are often provided, even in some of the cheapest hotels and in all households.

Cope in Bangladesh

Electricity

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

Tipping

In upscale restaurants around 7% is expected, but outside of these at informal food joints and with street food vendors, it's the exception not the rule. Consider tipping the driver and delivery men.

Telecommunications in Bangladesh

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

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 nation.

Mobile phones are a better option and widely available. In most towns they'll be your only option and many shop owners let theirs double as PCOs/ISDs. Banglalink and Grameenphone are the most widely available, followed by Robi, Teletalk and Airtel.

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