BARISHAL District Overview
Writer: Shafi Newaz
Photo: Tanvir Mahmud Konok, Sazzad Ali Khan, Ulaniya Zamindar Palace facebook page
Barishal, is a major divisional city that lies on the bank of river Kirtankhola in the southern part of Bangladesh. It is the largest city and the administrative headquarter of both Barisal district and Barisal Division. Barishal, with an area of the city is 58 km², has one of the oldest municipalities and river ports of the country.
Barisal had seen ups and downs during the Mughal period because of heavy fighting between Mughals and Hindu chiefs. In course of time, it went under the authority of the Bengal Nawabs, the last being Raja Ramranjan Chakravarty and then colonial British India. Later it passed on to East Pakistan and finally Bangladesh.
Ralph Fitch, the first ever Englishman, a leather merchant, known to have visited Bengal in the mid-1580s, described Barishal in his journal as, “From Chatigan in Bengal, I came to Bacola; the king whereof is a Gentile, a man very well disposed and delighted much to shoot in a gun. His country is very great and fruitful, and hath store of rice, much cotton cloth, and silk.
The houses are very fair and high built, the streets large, and people naked, except a little cloth about their waist. The women wear silver hoops around their necks and arms, and their legs are ringed with silver and copper, and rings made from elephants’ teeth.”
The city is sometimes called the "Venice of the East" or the "Venice of Bengal". As the Bengali saying states, "avb, b`x, Lvj; GB wb‡q ewikvj" which translates to "paddy, river and canal are the three things that make Barishal".
Ujirpur upazila lies on the Barisal-Banaripara road. The village of Guthiyar Changuriya falls just beside the side of the road. This area beholds the largest mosque of the southern region of Bangladesh. On 16 December 2003, the resident of Guthia Union of Ujirpur, S. Sarfuddin Ahmed Santu started the construction work of Guthiya Baitul Aman Jame Mosque-Eidgah Complex by establishing a foundation on about 14 acres of land. In 2006, the construction of the Jami Mosque-Eidgah Complex was completed. The mosque complex has a large mosque-tower, an Eidgah field with a capacity to accommodate 20,000 people for prayer, an orphanage, a guest house, car parking system, a pond and flower garden. The large pond is on the right entrance of the complex. The Mosque on the west side of Pond can hold around 1500 people. The height of the tower (Minar) is 193 feet. There are two fountains on both sides of the Eidgah entrance. According to the authorities concerned, about 2,10,000 construction workers have worked to construct this mosque. The mosque was named after the name of Guthiya.
How to go: One needs to reach Ujirpur Upazila on the Barisal-Banaripara road and find the village of Guthiya Changuriya where this beautiful mosque is located.
Kalashkathi Zamindar Palace
Bakerganj was, once, the part of the Aurangpur Paragon. The founder of the zamindari of Aurangpur paragon Janki Ballabh settled in the village of Kalashkathi leaving the paternal home in the village of Garuriya. His descendants were prominent landlords in that area. One of them, Vishweshwar Roy Chowdhury, built this palace. Some members of the land lord family went to India during the Pakistan period. The remains of the beautiful palace bears witness of time.
How to go: The location of the landlord palace is near the Kalashkathi market. It’s about 3 km away from Sahebganj boat terminal of Bakerganj Sadar. Motorcycle, rickshaw and van are available as a mode of transport to the site.
Kasba Mosque is located in Kasba village in Gournadi sub-division. The nine domed mosque, which is similar in architectural aspects to the sixty-domed mosque of Bagherhat, measures 11.68 meters × 11.68 meters, and the walls are 2.8 meters thick. The front of the mosque is full of flowers and other designs. There are four round tires in the four corners of the mosque. Each tire is decorated with linear designs. There is an arched entrance on north and south side. There are three ways to enter the mosque in the east. On the west wall there are three mehrabs. The mosque seems to have been built in the middle of the fifteenth century during the time of Khan Jahan Ali (RA)
How to go: One can reach the site by rickshaw or on foot from Torki Port Bus stand.
Oxford Mission Church, also known as the Epiphany Church is a majestic red bricked colonial structure. While it is old in terms of time, it is still one of the most elegant and beautiful churches, a unique architectural heritage, in Bangladesh. Also known as the Epiphany Church, the spectacular structure is situated beside Jibanananda Das Street. Operating under the Church of Bangladesh, Oxford Mission Church is also the second largest church in Asia.
How to go: The church is just beside the Jibanananda Das street on the Bogra road. Motor bike, auto rickshaw and rickshaw van are available.
Ulaniya Zamindar Palace
Locally known as Chowdhury Bari, Ulaniya Zamindar Palace is situated in the village Ulaniya of Mehendiganj upazila. The palace was built by Subadar Hanif, the founder of the Ulaniya Zamindar Dynasty. His eldest fifth son, Sheikh Mohammed Asad Ali, came to India from far-off Persia in search of his fortune. He first settled in Ayodhya and later in Murshidabad.
Mohammad Hanif used to work in the military department. Later, he overthrew the Dutch bandit group, Mogh and Firingi party, from the coast of Bakerganj district. As a result of this brave work of Subadar Hanif, his next descendants became the Landlords of this land.
How to go: Rickshaw van and motor cycle are available to the village of Ulaniya in Mehendiganj upazila.
In 1780 AD, King Shivnarayan, the then King of Chandradweep, dug a large dighi (lake) in Madhabpasha to resolve the water crisis of the residents of those areas. He named the lake after his mother, Durga Devi. Instead of the Directorate of Archaeology, the District Administration carries out the responsibility of maintaining Durgasagar. Baitul Aman Jame Mosque Complex and Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Huq Museum are near Durgasagar. At the Durgasagar, a large number of guest birds used to appear during the winter. After the cyclone 'Sidr', the impact of climate change was so severe that the place has seen a lot lesser number of guest birds. The famous Durgasagar, excavated two and a half hundred years ago, is also near Lakutiya zamindar palace. The Lakutiya zamindar palace is 300 years old.
How to go: One needs to go to Babuganj where Durgasagar Dighi is located. Motorbike, rickshaw and van are available as a mode of transport.
Under the rule of Nawab Alivardi Khan, during 1740-1756, Saraka Ruparam Das Gupta had built the monestary. It is also known as Sarkar monastery. The height of the monastery is about 27.40 meters. The monastery has a square room inside and an arched entrance with decoration on the west wall. It is to be noted that the Mahilara Monestary has been recognized as the historic monastery by the Directorate of Archaeology.
How to go: Mahilara bus stand to go to rickshaw.
Hazrat Mallik Dut Kumar Shah Raza's Mazar
Hazrat Mallik Dut Kumar Shah Raza's Mazar is located in the village of Lakheraj Kasba in Gournadi upazila. The mazar was established during the reign of Badsha Jahangir, the second son of the Arab king of Yemen. There is a mosque in the north side adjacent to the shrine. In this sub-continent, he came mainly to spread Islam. During his tenure, the rent of the entire village Kasba was waived. So, the village has been named Lakheraj Kasba. It is locally said that he used to go out on the back of the tiger, and the cows would let him drink their milk.
How to go: One can easily reach the mazar taking a short walk from Torki port bus stand.