Chittagong is the major seaport and second largest city of Bangladesh. It is located in the Chittagong District of Chittagong Division, in the southeastern portion of the country near Myanmar (Burma). The city was built on the banks of the Karnaphuli River, which ends nearby, in the Bay of Bengal. Chittagong has a population of over 6 million, and is continuing to grow. It is known as one of the cleanest cities of Bangladesh.
The largest sea port in the country, Chittagong is the main route for almost all of Bangladesh’s import and export, and generates a huge amount of revenue each year, attracting manyinvestors internationally. Its harbour also contains extensively developed port facilities, and is particularly suitable for ocean steamers.
People and culture
The people of the city are diverse and multi-ethnic, and the native Bengali and Tibeto-Burman populations have had significant influence from Arab, Afghan, and Mughal traders and settlers, all of whom had travelled in the city after arriving on its shores many hundreds of years ago. The descendents ofPortuguese settlers, known as the Firingi, also continue to live in Chittagong, as Catholic Christians, in the old Portuguese enclave of Paterghatta.
Chittagong is also home to several of the most renowned universities of Bangladesh, Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology (CUET), the International Islamic University Chittagong, the Chittagong University, established in 1966, the Chittagong College being notable examples. It also contains many madrasas (Islamic educational centres) within its borders.
Chittagong is very different in terms of topography from the rest of Bangladesh, as the city is part of the hilly regions that branch off from the Himalayas. This eastern offshoot of the Himalayas, turning south and southeast, passes through Assam and Tripura, and enters Chittagong across the river. The range loses height as it approaches Chittagong City and breaks up into small hillocks scattered all over the town. This range appears again on the southern bank of the [Karnaphuli] River and extends from one end of Chittagong District to the other. Mt. Sitakunda is the highest peak in the district, with an altitude of 1152 feet above sea level. Nangarkhana to the north of Chittagong City is 289 feet high. In the town itself, there is a peak known as Batali Hill, which used to be 280 feet high and was the highest point in the town. There was a light post at the top of Batali Hill for the guidance of vessels far away in the sea.
The city of Chittagong attracted the attention of the outside world from ancient and very early times. The Arabs knew its port in the 9th century AD, and settled and integrated into the culture. De Barros, the first of the Portuguese chroniclers of Asia, described Chittagong in 1552 as “the most famous and wealthy city of the kingdom of Bengal, by reason of its port at which meets the traffic of all that eastern region.” The city was described by the famous Chinese traveler-poet, Huen Tsang (7th century AD) as “a sleeping beauty emerging from mists and water”.The ancient history of Chittagong is not very clear. Burmese chronicles speak of a long line of kings over the region of Arakan, which included Chittagong, during the 6th and 7th century AD. Historian Lama Taranath mentions a Buddhist KingGopichandra who had his capital at Chittagong in the 10th century. Whatever might have been its early history, Chittagong’s history becomes clear with the advent of the Muslims to the region.Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq divided Bengal into three administrative units – Lakhnauti, Satgaon and Sonargaon. In 1338 Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah captured power at Sonargaon and soon after occupied Chittagong. He constructed a highway from Chandpur to Chittagong and adorned Chittagong with mosques and tombs. In 1538 the Arakanese regained possession of Chittagong after the fall of Sultan Ghiyasuddin Mahmud Shah at the hands of Sher Shah. The Mughals conquered Chittagong in 1666, gaining control of the region. During the period from 1538 to 1666 the Portuguese made inroads into Chittagong and virtually ruled the city. During these 128 years, Chittagong became the home ofPortuguese and Magh pirates.The re-occupation of Chittagong by the Mughals restored peace and order to the city. However, during the period of Portuguese occupation, Chittagong, and especially its port, acquired great fame as a major centre of business and trade. During the 18th and 19th centuries under British rule however, Chittagong lost its importance in the region, handing it over to Calcutta, which instead was developed as the virtual capital of the East India Company.In 1905, Chittagong once again came into prominence after the partition of Bengal and the creation of the new province between Eastern Bengal and Assam. Due to the construction of the Assam Bengal Railway, which connected the port of Chittagong with its natural hinterland, Chittagong as a whole received a great boost and much of the development of the city in the first quarter of the twentieth century can be attributed to this connection.The history of Chittagong shows repeated attempts by the local people to free themselves from the colonial rule of the British. In 1857, at the time of the Sepoy Revolt, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th companies of the 34th Bengal Infantry Regiment were stationed at Chittagong. On the night of 18 November 1857, the three above-named companies rose in rebellion and after releasing all the prisoners from jail, theSepoys left Chittagong carrying with them three government elephants, and much ammunition and treasure. They marched along the borders of Hill Tippera into Sylhet and Cachar. Unfortunately they were either all killed or captured by the Kuki scouts and the Sylhet Light Infantry, later known as the 10th Gurkha Rifles.Chittagong also contributed significantly to the liberation of India and Pakistan from British Rule. Among the Swadeshi revolutionary groups, one of the most active and famous was the Chittagong group led bySurya Sen(Masterda).Surya Sen, a teacher by profession, was the chief architect of anti-British movement in Chittagong . A resident of Noapara under Chittagong, he was initiated into revolutionary terrorist ideas in 1916 by one of his teachers while he was a student of BA Class in the Behrampore College. On his return to Chittagong in 1918, he became the President of the Chittagong branch of the Indian national congress, revived the terrorist organisation and became a teacher of the local National School. Hence, he was known as Mastarda (teacher brother).By 1923 Surya Sen established a number of pro-freedom militant organisations (Jugantar) in different parts of Chittagong district. Aware of the limited equipment and other resources of the terrorists, he was convinced of the need for secret guerilla warfare against the colonial government. One of his early successful undertakings was a broad day robbery at the treasury office of the Assam-Bengal Railway at Chittagong. His subsequent major success in the anti-British revolutionary violence was the Chittagong Armoury Raid in 1930.As a fugitive, Surya Sen was hiding at the house of Sabitri Devi, a widow, near Patiya. A police and military force under Captain Cameron surrounded the house on 13 June 1932.Cameron was shot dead while ascending the staircase and Surya Sen along with Pritilata Waddedar and Kalpana Dutta escaped to safety.Ultimately a villager revealed the hiding place of Surya Sen at Gahira village in Chittagong and in the early hours of 17 February 1933, a Gurkha contingent surrounded the hideout and a soldier seized Surya Sen while he was trying to break the cordon.
Tarakeswar Dastidar, the new President of the Chittagong Branch Jugantar Party, made a preparation to rescue Surya Sen from the Chittagong Jail. But the plot was unearthed and consequently frustrated. Tarakeswar and Kalpana along with others were arrested. Special tribunals tried Surya Sen, Tarakeswar Dastidar, and Kalpana Datta in 1933.
Sentenced to death in August 1933, Surya Sen was hanged in the Chittagong Jail on 8 January 1934. At the time of his execution the detainees kept up a continuous chorus of revolutionary songs. The villager, who had revealed the hiding place of Surya Sen to the Police, was murdered in broad-day light on 8 January 1934.
During the Second World War, the British used Chittagong as an important military base. Consequently it became the target of Japanese attacks. The aerodrome at Patenga in the city was bombarded for two successive days in April 1942 and again on the 20th and 24th December 1942. As a result Chittagong was declared a non-family area and the head-quarters of the Divisional Commissioner was shifted to Comilla, and that of the Assam Bengal Railway to Dhaka. All valuable government documents were shifted toMymensingh.
The World War transformed Chittagong from a sleepy little town to a place of great activity. The massive military presence of the allied forces, drawn mostly from Britain, Australia and America could be seen on the streets of Chittagong. Frequent air raids by the Japanese warplanes, blackouts at night, and the presence of refugees from areas occupied by the Japanese, all combined to transform city life. The War, though it helped some people to amass huge fortunes as military contractors, brought much misery in its wake for the people in general, as a result of the Great Famine of 1943. The famine, it is largely believed, was man-made, and was engineered by the British Government to force people to the army recruiting centres to give the Government much needed manpower.
Economy and development
In 1947, the area of the town of Chittagong was only four and half square miles and was centred around the low and small hillocks which were found scattered all over the city. Dampara, Nasirabad, Katalganj, Kapashgola and Solokbahar bound the town on the north, the Karnafuli on the south, Chaktai nullah on the east and Madarbari, Pathantuli and Dewanhat on the west. Originally the town was confined within this limit. With rapid industrialisation and development the town soon grew into a city outstripping the old Municipality area. The city extended southwest up to Patenga where the Chittagong International Airport is now located. Its expansion to the west incorporated the villages of Halishahar, Askarabad and Agrabad. The government acquired the land of these villages to construct offices and commercial firms. To the north it extended up to Faujdarhat and the Chittagong Cantonment area and in the northeast up to Kalurghat.
The Government of Pakistan under Ordinance No 51 established the Chittagong Development Authority (CDA) in 1959 as an autonomous body to cope with the expansion of the city and to help it to develop in a planned way. The principal responsibilities of CDA under this Ordinance are as follows: (i) to draw up a master plan for Chittagong and its adjoining area. This master plan is to be reviewed every five years; (ii) to design and execute short-term and long-term plans for the development and expansion of Chittagong City and (iii) to implement the East Bengal House Building Act of 1952. This includes the examination and approval of plans for construction of buildings in Chittagong.
The CDA drew up a master plan dividing the entire city into several blocks. The area, which was earmarked for port development projects with provisions for office blocks of mercantile firms, was Sadarghat, Madarbari, Double Moorings and Halishahar. Government offices as well as residential quarters of officers and staffs were located in Agrabad. The railway authorities developed the western fringe of the low hill ranges up to Pahartali. For the development of industries the CDA earmarked different zones for different industries. These zones were mainly in Nasirabad, Panchlais, Fauzdarhat, Kalurghat and on a site near the Dhaka Trunk Road.
By 1961 the CDA drew up a “Regional Plan” covering an area of 212 square miles and a “Master Plan” covering an area of 100 square miles. From the funds provided by the UNDP and UNCHS the following Master Plan was drawn up for Chittagong City during the years 1992 to 1996: (a) A structure plan for 1154 square kilometres of Chittagong city and the adjoining area, (b) Urban area Master Plan for Chittagong City, (c) Multi-Sectoral Investment Plan for the development of Chittagong City on a priority basis in a planned and balanced way, (d) Master Plan for drainage and flood-protection of Chittagong City, (e) Master Plan for easing the traffic congestion in Chittagong and for improvement of the traffic handling capacity of the city system, (f) Proposals for updating the laws and rules relating to City Development and plans for restructuring the administrative system ofCDA, and (g) Manpower development for better functioning of CDA and transfer of technology for future city planning and development.
M.M. Ispahani, A.K. Khan & Co. Ltd, Habib Group, Sanowara Group and the PHP Group are all resident in Chittagong.
The city has experienced many new hotels and guesthouses in recent years. Many high end hotels such have sprung up in the city, targeting businessman and tourists.In the recent years more than 20 hotels have launched operation in the port city to meet standards of foreign businessman, clients, dealers and tourists. Most of these hotels are located in Agrabad Commercial Area, Nasirabad and CDA Avenue.
The Marriott, Radisson, Westin and Novotel are among the upcoming five-star hotels in Chittagong
Patenga Beach is one of the popular tourist spots for visitors in Chittagong. The beach lies approximately twenty-two kilometres away from the city of Chittagong, and is reachable by a straight, long road through a beautiful forest. It is located near landmarks which include the Shah Amanat International Airport and the BNS Isha Khan Naval Base. Patenga Beach is located at the ‘Karnaphuli’ River mouth and stretches across the Bay of Bengal. Another tourist attraction near Patenga beach is the Butterfly Park.
Foy’s Lake is a human-made lake in Chittagong, Bangladesh. The lake was once just a lake and spillway constructed by Assam-Bengal Railway engineer. It was dug in 1924 and was named after the English engineer Mr. Foy.The lake is next to Batali Hill, the highest hill in Chittagong Metropolitan area. An amusement park, managed by the Concord Group, is located here which features usual theme park rides and attractions as well as boat rides on the lake, landscaping, restaurants, concerts with floating stages, scenic walking trails and many other fun activities. It also features a resort and a water park.
Batali Hill is the highest hill in the city of Chittagong, Bangladesh. It is located near the Tiger Pass crossing, about 1 kilometres from the center of the city, and falls under the Pahartoli Thana. The hill is about 280 feet high. Foy’s Lake, the largest man-made lake in Chittagong city, is situated next to the hill. There is also an Eternal Flame (“Shikha Onirban”) commemorating the Bangladesh Liberation War martyrs
Shrine of Bayazid Bostami
Bayazid Bostami was a famous Persian Sufi born in Bostam, Iran. In Bayazid area of Chittagong, there is a shrine to his name, known as Bayazid Bostami Dargah Sharif, considered to be a holy place and attracted by a large number of visitors and pilgrims daily. It is a complex consists of a tomb surrounded by brick made structure along with an old mosque and a large pond. The large pond houses a large number of black soft-shelled turtles known as Bostami Turtle or Bostami Kachim (locally called Mazari) which are a very rare and critically endangered species. As of 2002, the IUCN classified the species as Extinct in the Wild.
There is a heritage park and Mini Bangladesh at Chandgaon which reflects the most notable structures and instances of Bangladesh. This 71-metre tower in Mini Bangladesh in Chittagong has a restaurant on the top that rotates once every 90 minutes. The museum includes a revolving restaurant. One can perceive of the country’s architectural beauty, ethnic traditions and archaeological inheritance through having a glimpse of the heritage park. Replica of major structures of the country, includes Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban (parliament building), National Memorial of Savar, Ahsan Manzil, Curzon Hall of Dhaka University, Paharpur Monastery, Kantajew Temple of Dinajpur, Lalbagh Fort and Sona Masjid. The park also has different rides for children.
Ethnological Museum of Chittagong
The Ethnological Museum of Chittagong located in Agrabad, established in 1965, is the only ethnological museum in the country. It offers the visitors the chance to acquaint with the lifestyles and heritage of various ethnic groups of the country. The museum authority had collected rare elements used in everyday lives of different ethnic groups, of which some had already become extinct while some were on the verge of extinction. The museum contains four galleries and a small hall. Three galleries of the museum feature diverse elements of twenty nine ethnic groups in Bangladesh, while the rest of the gallery displays the lifestyles of some ethnic groups of India, Pakistan and Australia. The sculptures of the people of different ethnic communities and a piece of broken Berlin Wall attracts visitors, who can get impression of different festivals, livelihoods, and cultures of the communities from the murals set up at the hall room. Around 200-300 people visit the museum everyday.
Commonwealth War Cemetery
The Commonwealth War Cemetery on Badshah Mia Road contains the graves of 755 soldiers, and is protected and maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.This cemetery was established to show the honor for the soldiers and others who died in World war II. The cemetery was created by the British Army, and there were originally about 400 burials. Graves have since been transferred to this cemetery from the Lushai Hills (Assam) and other isolated sites, and from Chittagong Civil Cemetery; Chandragona Baptist Mission Cemetery; Chiringa Military Cemetery; Cox’s Bazar New Military and Civil (Muhammadan) Cemeteries; Chittagong (Panchalaish) Burial Ground; Dacca Military Cemetery; Demagiri Cemetery; Dhuapolong Muslim Burial Ground; Dhuapolong Christian Military Cemetery; Dohazari Military and R.A.F. Cemeteries; Jessore Protestant Cemetery; Khulna Cemetery; Khurushkul Island Christian and Muhammadan Cemeteries; Lungleh Cemetery (Assam); Nawapara Cemetery (Assam); Patiya Military Cemetery, Rangamati Cemetery; Tejgaon Roman Catholic Cemetery; Tumru Ghat Military Cemetery and Tumru M.D.S. Hospital Cemetery.