Munshiganj, a land with great potential in tourism

The district has a great potential in tourism sector. Local people have urged the authority concerned to use tourism for branding the district instead of potato since the crop is cultivated in most areas of the country nowadays and the local farmers are incurring losses almost each year from its cultivation.

The district is home to many dignitaries and renowned personalities. The former name of the district is Bikrampur which has a rich history of more than thousand years. The district has a great potential in various fields like education, industry, business and commerce, literature, song, drama, dance, recitation, etc. Many ancient kings ruled Bikrampur.

The district is playing a vital role in keeping the economy of the country running. Munshiganj was upgraded to a Mahakuma in May of 1845 from a thana previously ruled by the Moguls. It was upgraded to a district on March 1, 1984.

The size of the district is 954.96 square kilometres. It is surrounded by Padma, Meghna, Dhaleswari and Ichhamoti rivers. It is near to the capital Dhaka. The communication is also developed. The Meghna River has separated Gazaria Upazila from the district. Except Gazaria Upazila, the other five upazilas can easily be accessed through roadways. Most of the local tourist spots are beside main roads. But due to lack of proper maintenance and preservation, the tourist spots are becoming extinct.

The dignitaries and renowned personalities of the district are: great Buddhist preacher Atish Dipankar, great botanist Sir Jagadish Chandra Basu, great leader of the then Indian sub-continent Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das, great woman leader of the sub-continent Sarojini Naidu, progressive political leader and founder of Udichi Shilpi Goshthi Satyen Sen, anti-British movement leader Jiten Ghosh, litterateur Manik Bandopadhaya, one of the great poets during 1930s Buddhadeb Basu, mathematician Pundit Somesh Basu, one of greatest short story writers and novelist Samaresh Basu, first judge of Indian Government Sir Chandramadhob Ghosh, founder of Dhaka Museum Dr Nalinikanta Bhattashali, founder of Munshiganj Government Harganga College Ashutosh Ganguly, journalist and rhymester Fayez Ahmed, first Bangalee to cross English Channel Brazen Das, and many others.

One of the famous tourist spots in Munshiganj is the Idrakpur Fort which is located at Kortgaon Village in Sadar Upazila. During the reign of Mogul emperor Aurangjeb, Mir Jumla built the fort in 1658-1660. In the Topography of Dhaka, Mister Tailor and in the Dhaka District Report, Mister Clay mentioned it as the Idrakpur Fort.

The fort is 240 feet long and 210 feet wide. It has spread centring a drum like stage of 30 feet high from the ground. The main entrance of the fort is to the north. The boundary wall is two to three feet wide. The boundary wall is like lotus petals where there is a hole in each petal. Canon was used through the holes. Anybody can go to the top of the fort through climbing a stair. There are four guard boxes on four sides of the fort. The main fort is 20 feet high from the ground. The current height of the wall is four to five feet. There is a secret way on the northern side of the fort’s entrance. A saying goes that anybody could go to Lalbagh Fort through this secret way.

The Idrakpur Fort was the official building of Mahakuma Administration from 1845 till 1984 and the official house of different government officers including deputy commissioner from 1984 till 1989. Later, it was included in the Archeology Department under the Culture Ministry. Now, the fort is open to visitors. The fort remains closed on each Sunday. Anybody can visit the fort without paying any fees.

Meanwhile, development work is going on to preserve the fort. During the work, hundreds of jars were found on May 12, 2015. Hearing the news, hundreds of people including three officials of Dhaka Divisional Archeology Department came to see the fort. At that time, Deputy Director of Archeology Department Md Mahbub-ul-Alam told journalists in a press briefing that they took measures to install air conditioning system in the entire fort. Now, the excavation work is going on here.

There is the old prison on the entrance of the fort. A process to turn the prison into a museum is on. But there is no visible progress in this connection. For renovation work, the main gate of the proposed museum is under lock. Though the fort is an important historical place, there is no visible step to turn it attractive.

Another historical spot is the Baro Auliar Mazaar which is located at Kewar Village under Mohakali Union in Sadar Upazila. The twelve shrines of the 12 saints are situated in array. These saints came to Munshiganj from the then Arabia in 974 AD to preach Islam. Meanwhile, an Arabic inscription was found during a renovation work at the shrine in 1978.

Bajrajoginy Village in Sadar Upazila is another historical village where the famous Buddhist priest Atish Dipankar was born in 982 AD. A 52 feet high memorial monument has been built in the village. Beside it, there is an old temple. Near the memorial stone, the Atish Dipankar Public Auditorium has been built.

Another historical place is the pond of King Bollal Sen located beside Rampal College under Rampal Union in Sadar Upazila. King Bollal Sen dug the pond between 1159 and 1160 AD.
Sukhbaspur pond is an attractive spot, which was dug during the regime of King Shyamol Barma between 900 and 960 AD at Sukhbaspur Village under Rampal Union of Sadar Upazila. The pond is 900 feet long and 500 wide. There was palace of the Barma kings on the eastern side of the pond.
Another attractive place is the pond of King Harish Chandra which was built between 1025 and 1026 AD at Raghurampur Village under Rampal Union of Sadar Upazila.

Baba Adam Shaheed (R) Mosque and Shrine is also a historical place, which is located at Dargahbari Village in Sadar Upazila. Malik Kafur Shah, son of Sultan Jalaluddin Abu Jafar Shah, built the mosque in 1483 AD. The mosque is 43 feet long and 36 feet wide and has six minarets. Local people say their prayers at the mosque. The shrine of Baba Adam Shaheed (R) is located on the entrance of the mosque.

The saint was born in Tayef of Arabia. He came to Chattogram to preach Islam in 1142, to Mahasthangarh in 1152 and finally to Munshiganj in 1173 where he started to live. He led a crusade against King Bollal Sen between September 10 and 20 in 1178 AD at Kanai Chong ground. On September 20, 1178, he faced martyrdom at the hand of Bollal Sen in his house.

Another attractive place is Pulghata Brick Pole which was built on a canal at Mirkadim port under Tongibari Upazila between 1659 and 1663 by Mir Jumla. It is known as Pulghata Pole to all.

Another attractive spot is the Mirpara Mosque and Shrine located at Mirpara of Mirkadim Municipality under Sadar Upazila. The mosque is 152 feet long and 126 feet wide, and it was built between 1660 and 1700 AD. The shrine of Hazrat Mir Saheb (R) is located inside the mosque’s northern side.
Another attractive place is the Tengor Shahi Mosque which is located in Mirkadim Municipality of Sadar Upazila. One Suleman Khan Karrani built the mosque in 1569 AD. It is 36 feet long and 36 feet wide. The height of the minaret is 50 feet. To accommodate rising number of devotees for saying prayers, a new mosque has been built near the old mosque.

Two thousand-year old Buddhist Bihars have been discovered under earth at Raghurampur Village under Rampal Union of Sadar Upazila and Nateswar of Tongibari Upazila during a recent excavation.

There are several recreation spots in Munshiganj. One is Padma Resort and another Mawa Resort beside the Padma River in Louhajang Upazila.

Another such is located at Baluakandi in Gazaria Upazila known as Meghna Village Holiday Resort beside the Dhaka-Chattogram highway. Many people spend their holidays at these resorts regularly.

The number of visitors is increasing in the Padma Resort daily. It looks like the Saint Martin’s Island. The cottages of the Padma Resort are located on 350 decimals of land. People can go to the resort crossing the Padma through speedboats or trawlers.

The M J Holiday Resort is located on 8.5 acres of land at Paschim Isapura Village under Sirajdikhan Upazila. There are various amusement items. The cottages here are both air conditioned and non-air conditioned.

The Mawa Resort is located on 65 bighas of land at Kandipara Village near Mawa of Louhajang Upazila. Those who want to stay at the cottages here must book earlier.

The Meghna Village Holiday Resort is located one kilometre away from the Meghna Bridge in Gazaria Upazila. There are both air conditioned and non-air conditioned cottages.

When the Bhagyakul Jaminder Palace was under threat of Padma River erosion during the start of the last century, Jadunath Roy built the new palace at Balashur Village. Dr Humayun Azad mentioned the palace as the “Paris City Beside Beel”. The Bikrampur Museum was built on 13.5 acres of land on the deserted palace of Jadunath Roy.

Former general secretary of Bangladesh Awami League Syed Ashraful Islam laid the foundation stone of the Bikrampur Museum on May 30, 2010. The total construction cost of the museum is Tk 1.15 crore. It is a three-storied building located on about 5,500 square feet.

The present curator of the museum is writer on Bikrampur and researcher Professor Mohammad Shahjahan Mia. A guesthouse has been built here. Now, the museum has five galleries, and three more galleries will be inaugurated soon. The museum is situated near Balashur Chourasta beside Dhaka-Dohar road under Sreenagar Upazila.

Another attractive place is the ancestral house of famous scientist Sir Jagadish Chandra Basu which is located at Rarhikhal Village under Sreenagar Upazila. It is about 35 kilometres away from Dhaka.

On the 30 acres of land of the house, Jagadish Chandra Basu College and Complex has been built. The great scientist donated the land to build the complex.

On their way to respective destinations after visiting different tourist spots, the visitors buy locally-made sweetmeat.

Deputy Commissioner Shaila Farzana said several projects have been taken by different ministries and the Munshiganj District Administration to preserve the historical places and heritage of the district. A museum will be built at Idrakpur Fort by Archaeology Department.

She also said the work to build a library and museum is going on at Atish Dipankar’s house. Besides, the Chinese Government is taking initiative to build a university there.

She further said huge money is needed for district branding. Before this the communication of the district should be modernised.

Md. Mozammel Hossain

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