Nestled in the picturesque Surma Valley amidst scenic tea plantations and lush green tropical forests, greater Sylhet is a prime attraction for all tourists visiting Bangladesh. Lying between the Khasia and the Jaintia hills on the north and the Tripura hills on the south, Sylhet breaks the monotony of the flatness of this land by a multitude of terraced tea gardens, rolling countryside and the exotic flora and fauna. Here the thick tropical forests abound with many species of wild life, scented orange groves and luxuriant pineapple plantations spread their aroma around the typical hearth and homes of the Manipuri Tribal maidens famous for their dance.
The Sylhet valley is formed by a beautiful, winding pair of rivers named the Surma and the Kushiara both of which are fed by innumerable hill streams from the north and the south. The valley has good number of hoars whIch are big natural depressions. During winter these haors are vast stretches of green land, but in the rainy season they turn into a turbulent sea. These hoars provide a sanctuary to the millions of migratory birds who fly from across the Himalayas to avoid the severe cold of Siberia.
Sylhet has also a very interesting and rich history. Before the conquest by the Muslims, it was ruled by local chieftains. In 1303, the great Saint Hazrat Shah Jalal came to Sylhet from Delhi with a band of 360 disciples to preach Islam and defeated the then Raja Gour Gobinda. Sylhet thus became a district of saints, shrines and daring but virile people.
Its rich potentialities became easily attractive and the 18th century Englishmen made their fortune in tea plantation. About 80 km. from Sylhet town connected by road and rail, Srimangal, which is known as the tea capital of Bangladesh, is the actual tea centre of the area. For miles and miles around, the visitor can see the tea gardens spread like a green carpet over the plain land or on the sloping hills. A visit to the tea plantation in Sylhet is a memorable experience. Sylhet, the tea granary of Bangladesh, not only has over 150 tea gardens but also proudly possesses three largest tea gardens in the world both in area and production.
Greater Sylhet Consists of the districts of Sylhet, Sunamganj, Habiganj and Moulvibazar.Srimongal:
Srimongal is famous for the longest tea gardens of world covered by lush green carpet. One can have a look into the spectacular tea processing at Tea Research Institute.
Temple of Sri Chaitanya Dev:
About 500 years old famous temple of Sri Chaitanya Dev is located at Dhaka Dakhin about 45 Km south east from Sylhet town. The place is revered for being the ancestral home of the famous Vaishnava saint. Yearly fair is organised on the fullmoon day of the Bangla month Falgun. Hundreds and thousands of devotees from home and abroad attend this colourful fair.
Three kilometers to the north-east 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 grand 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 north-west of the college lie the remains of King Gour Gobinda’s Fort.
Situated 43 km. to the north of Sylhet town, on the Sylhet – Shillong road, Jaintiapur was the capital of an ancient kingdom which included the Khasi and Jaintia Hills and plains of Jaintia. Interesting ruins of this forgotten period lie scattered throughout Jaintiapur. A drive to Jaintiapur is an interesting and worthwhile experience.
Haripur Gas Field and other spots:
Twentytwo kilometers from Sylhet town is the Haripur Gas Field and at 35 km. point is the Jaintiapur’s Rajbari. Onty 5 km. from Jaintiapur is Jaflong, a scenic spot amidst tea gardens. At about 35 km. north-west of Sylhet town, linked by rail, road and river is Chhatak, the seat of Assam Bengal Cement Factory. Chhatak is famous for orange gardens.
About 3 km. from Dakhinbagh Railway Station there is the famous waterfall of Madhabkunda which attracts large number of tourists every year.
An interesting feature of Sylhet region is the aboriginal tribes such as the Tipperas, the Monipuris, Khasis and Garos who still live in their primitive ways in the hills, practising their age-old rites, rituals, customs and traditions. During festivals such as, Rash Leela (Full-moon night in February) and Doljatra, the attractive young girls dressed in colourful robes, dance with the male members of their choice & love. The Monipuris perform their famous dance, based on allegorical love themes of the ancient mythology.
Situated amidst splendid panorama, Tamabil is a border out post on sylhet – Shilong Road about 55 km away from sylhet town. Besides enchanting views of the area one can also have a glimpse of the waterfalls across the border from Tamabil. Jaflong is also a scenic spot nearby amidst tea gardens and rare beauty of rolling stones from hills.
Sylhet is well-known for its wide variety of exquisite handicrafts. Well-known sylhet cane products such as chair, table, tea trays, flower vases, bags and the exquisitely designed fine Sital Pati (a kind a mattress having natural cooling effect) are colourful souvenirs.
For accommodation at Sylhet town, some reasonably good hotels are availalble. Rest house accommodation at Srimangal and other places are also available for tourists.
Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation operates a first class motel (Phone: 712426) and restaurant located in the Picturesque sorroumdings near the sylhet airport besides the Duty Free shop at the airport (Phone:713206) and transport service.
Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation-Nattonal Tourism Organization arranges guided package tours for groups of 10 and above from Dhaka to Sylhet.