Sylhet , is a major city in north-eastern Bangladesh. It is the capital of Sylhet Division and Sylhet District, and was granted metropolitan city status in March 2009. Sylhet is located on the banks of the Surma River and is surrounded by the Jaintia, Khasi and Tripura hills. The city has a high population density, with nearly 500,000 people. It is one of the largest cities in Bangladesh. The Sylhet region is well known for its tea gardens and tropical forests, the city however is currently known for its business boom — being one of the richest cities in Bangladesh, with new investments of hotels, shopping malls and luxury housing estates, brought mainly by expatriates living in the United Kingdom.
Historians believe that Sylhet was an expanded commercial center from the ancient period, which explains its original namesake. During this time, Sylhet was probably inhabited by Indo-Aryan Brahmins, though ethnically the population would also have traces of Assamese. It has also been suggested that the Ancient Kingdom of Harikela was situated in modern Sylhet.
Geography and climate
Sylhet city is located at 24°53?30?N 91°53?00?E? / ?24.8917°N 91.8833°E? / 24.8917; 91.8833, in the north eastern region of Bangladesh within the Sylhet Division, within the Sylhet District and Sylhet Sadar Upazila. The climate of Sylhet is tropical monsoon with a predominantly hot and humid summer and a relatively cool winter. The city is within the monsoon climatic zone, with annual average highest temperatures of 23°C (Aug-Oct) and average lowest temperature of 7°C (Jan). Nearly 80% of the annual average rainfall of 3,334 mm 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 comprises 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. It is flanked by the Indian states of the Meghalaya in the north, Assam in the east, Tripura in the south and the Bangladesh districts of Netrokona, Kishoregonj and Brahmanbaria in the west. The area covered by Sylhet Division is 12,569 km², which is about 8% of the total land area of Bangladesh.
Geologically, the region is complex having diverse sacrificial geomorphology; high topography of Plio-Miocene age such as Khasi and Jaintia hills and small hillocks along the border. At the centre there is a vast low laying flood plain of recent origin with saucer shaped depressions, locally called Haors. Haors, also known as the Sylhet basin, are a wetland ecosystem, which is a natural bowl-shaped depression and mainly can be found in the Sylhet region, in particular also in Sylhet Sadar. 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 the earthquake prone zone of Bangladesh.
Sylhet consists of 27 wards and 210 mahallas, and has a total area of 26.50 km². During the colonial period, Sylhet experienced rapid growth and expansion of the city. In 1878, Sylhet Municipality was established, it had an area of 10.49 sq km with 5 wards (until 1995) and then 15 wards (in 1996). Sylhet was changed to a city corporation from a municipal board in 2001, and currently the city is administrated by the Sylhet City Corporation. At present, Sylhet is the district-headquarters as well as the divisional headquarters of the districts of Sunamganj, Habibganj, Maulvi Bazar and Sylhet District. The Sylhet City Corporation is responsible for the services that are provided within the city which includes traffic, roads, garbage collection, water supply, registrations and many others. The corporation consists of the Chairman and 22 other Commissioners, and focuses on the development of the city.
A devastating earthquake demolished almost the entire town on 12 June 1897 following which a modern and European model new town was built on the wreckage. Many new roads were constructed in the late 1890s and Sylhet became really connected to the other parts of the country with the establishment of an extension line of Assam-Bengal Railway in 1912-15. From the very beginning of the 20th century, the importance of Sylhet increased with the establishment of the tea industry. In the 1950s and 1960s, rapid urbanisation took place in the town, fostered by the expatriate Sylhetis and the process is still ongoing.
Historical places of Sylhet
The Shrine of Hazrat Shah Jalal
Shrine of Saint Hazrat Shah Jalal is the most historical interest in Sylhet town. Today, more than six hundred years after his death, the shrine is visited by innumerable devotees of every caste and creed, who make the journey from far away places. Legend says, the great saint who came from Delhi to preach Islam and defeated the then Hindu Raja (king) Gour Gobinda, transformed the witchcraft followers of the Raja into catfishes which are still alive in the tank adjacent to the shrine Swords, the holy Quran and the robes of the holy saint are still preserved in the shrine.
Temple of Sri Chaitannya Dev
About 500 years old famous about 45 km southeast from Sylhet town. The place is revered from being the ancestral home of the famous Vaishnava saint. Yearly fair is organized on the full moon day of the Bangla month Falgun. Hundreds and thousands of devotees from home and abroad attend this colorful fair.
Three kilometers to the northeast of the circuit house, the Shahi Eidgah was built on a hill by the Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb in the 17th century. It looks like a grade fort but is actually meant for Eid congregation-the two biggest Muslim festivals
Gour Gobinda Fort
The Murarichand Government College is situated in a beautiful surrounding on a hilltop. To the northwest of the college lie the remains of King Gour Govinda's Fort.