Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mymensingh; an Historic City in Bangladesh

Mymensigh city, bangladesh
Mymensingh (Bengali: ময়মনসিংহ, pronounced moy-mon-shing-haw) is a city of Bangladesh situated on the river Brahmaputra. It is the headquarters of the administrative unit Mymensingh District. Mymensingh is the anglicized pronunciation of the original name Momenshahi, referring to a ruler called Momen Shah. The cadet college established in Tangail in 1963 was called Momenshahi Cadet College. The city is known for educational institutions like Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh Medical College, Mymensingh Ananda Mohan College, Mymensingh Zilla School, Mymensingh Girls' Cadet College, Mymensingh Muminunnesa Women College, Vidyamoyee Uccha Balika Bidyalaya, Mymensingh Polytechnic Institute, Women Teachers Training College, Mymensingh Engineering College and Shahid Syed Nazrul Islam College. Other landmark institutions include Mymensingh Army Cantonment. Also it is related with old Brahmaputra river, handcrafted duvet called Nakshikantha (Bengali: নকশীকাঁথা) and a rural ballad called Moimonsingho Geetika. Mymensingh city is located about 120 km (75 mi) north of Dhaka which is the capital of the country. 

Vidyamoyee Uccha Balika Bidyalaya, Mymensingh

Mymensingh is one of the 16 old districts of Bangladesh which was constituted by the British East India Company on 1 May 1787. Being more than 220 years old, Mymensingh has a rich cultural and political history. At the beginning Begunbari was chosen as the headquarters of the district. However the district headquarters was relocated to Mymensingh when Begunbari devastated by flash flood. Earlier Mymensingh was called Nasirabad. During the British Raj most of the inhabitants of the town were Hindus. 

From the early 20th century Muslims moved into town. Since then this city has played an important role as a center for secularism. The Vidyamoyee Uccha Balika Bidyalaya and Muminunnesa Women's College have played a great role in educating Bengali Muslim women. A majority of first-generation successful Bangladeshi women have attended these schools and colleges, including the first woman justice of the High Court of Bangladesh, Justice Nazmun Ara Sultana. However, many Hindu families left Bangladesh during the partition of India in 1947. A second spell of exodus took place following the Indo-Pak war of 1965. Many people born and raised Mymensingh have left for West Bengal since the 1960s. The exodus continues albeit at a slower pace. 

Mymensingh Located in Bangladesh
The nine-month liberation war of Bangladesh started on 27 March 1971. Mymensingh remained free from the occupation army until 23 April 1971. Pakistani occupation forces deserted Mymensingh on 10 December, and Mukti Bahini took over on 11 December, just five days ahead of the victory of Dhaka on 16 December. 

Geography and Climate

The city has no officially defined geographical limits. Since 1980s the city has expanded with fast urbanization. Mymensingh city is clearly marked by the old Brahmaputra river flowing along its north. Shambhuganj is situated on the other side of the Brahmaputra, connected by the Shambhuganj Bridge. Other ends of the city are marked respectively by the beginning of the Agricultural University campus, the Medical College, Army cantonment and, finally, Sultanabad, a township built for the followers of Aga Khan. A railway line connecting Dhaka with northern districts, built between 1885 and 1899, passes through the city and divides it into two sides. 

A Local Market in Chorpara Mymensingh
The climate of Mymensingh is moderate, much cooler than Dhaka, as it is closer to the Himalayas. The monsoon starts in May or June and continues till August. It rains heavily and sometimes for days and weeks. During the monsoon, the temperature varies between 15 and 20 degrees. The temperature falls below 15 °C (59 °F) in winter which is spread over December and January and may well include November and February. The highest temperature is felt during April–May period, when the temperature may be as high as 40 °C (104 °F). High humidity causes heavy sweating during this period. For western travelers, the best time to visit is between November and February. 


Historically, Mymensingh district was known for jute production which was termed 'golden fiber' due to revenue it generated as a cash crop. Due to the high demand for polythene bags and other economic reasons, the jute industry has been significantly declined today. Agriculture is the most important sector contributing to GDP, followed by the growing service sector in the city. The increasing demand for fish in the local and global markets has generated a new opportunity for local fishermen as well as businessmen to exploit fishing in Mymensingh and today it is very important to the economy. People have changed their paddy fields to ponds, and are cultivating fish. 

Mymensingh Town
Prawns, sometimes reaching a very large size in the winter, are sold in Mymensingh in great numbers. 

The entire area between Durgabari Road,and Maharaja Road comprises the traditional shopping area. There are places like Ganginarpar, Boro Bazaar, Choto Bazaar, Mechua Bazaar within this area. 

There are spots like Jilapi Patty which is for making and selling jilapi. The main road from Notunbazar to the railway station hosts a number of shops for manufactured products and clothing on the two sides. 

The old colonial brothels in a moderate Muslim country is a paradox, involving prostitution, drugs and crimes. 

Chinese restaurant in Mymensingh

The staple food is plain rice with a curry of fish or meat. Normally people start with fried or steamed vegetable and dal, a kind of lentil soup. Often people squeeze a lemon slice or take additional salt while eating and add fresh onion rings and green pepper to spice up the food. Traditional snacks and savories include seasonal pitha of various kinds, dal-pury, singara and samosa. Home made desserts include Kheer, Payesh and Shemai. Sweets soaked in syrup of sugar, such as Geelapi, are mostly bought from shops. Paan, a digestive made out of betel nuts, spices, tobacco, and certain other ingredients are eaten by many people, some of which consume it with aromatic Jarda. For dinner or lunch, a simple formula is to prepare "khichdi", the broth of rice and lentils, seasoned with spices, and served with chutney or pickles. Ghee (butter) may be spread just before eating. The meal may end with sweet curd. Muri (puffed rice), chira (flattened rice) and khoi (popped rice/rice krispy) are substitutes for rice. They are eaten with gur (jaggery) which is a kind of unrefined sugar. They may be mixed up with curd or milk before eaten. People use only right hand for eating. No spoon, fork or knife is used. 

Boro Masjid, Mymensingh, Bangladesh

Mosques, temples, and churches:

Mymensingh is one the cities in Bangladesh where Muslims and Hindus band together. All types of religious festivals are celebrated throughout the city. During different critical international religious conflicts, people of this city proved what religion means to their lives. 

Anjuman Eid-gah Maidan: 

Under the auspices of the governor of East Pakistan Abdul Monayem Khan, a prayer ground was established in 1962 on 27 acres (110,000 m2) of land, including a pond. Every year congregation of Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha are held here in the morning. The prayer ground is walled on all the sides and has a nice view with coconut trees lining up the sides. This place was used to accommodate the Elephants of Maharaj Surya kanta achrya in colonial time.
Town Hall Point, Mymensingh, Bangladesh
Ramakrishna Math & Mission: 

Ramakrishna Ashrama of Mymensingh is situated at 182, Ramakrishna Mission Road. Ramakrishna Math is a monastic organization for men brought into existence by Sri Ramakrishna (1836–1886), the great 19th century saint of Bengal who is regarded as the prophet of the Modern Age. 


The Old Town Hall, built by Maharaja Surya Kanta Acharyya had hosted thousands of drama, meeting and cultural functions since 1878. The age old Town Hall was demolished in 2006 and is being rebuilt by the Mymensingh Pourashava. 

Bangladesh Parishad, situated at Chhotto Bazar Road, the regional center of Pakistan Council in Mymensingh, set up in 1969, came to be known as Bangladesh Parishad after establishment of Bangladesh in 1971. It was a government institution under the Ministry of Information and housed a public library with a good collection of books and magazines. The library has 35,656 volumes on all subjects. It also had a hall to hold literary and cultural functions. Till 1980s, Bangladesh Parishad was a hub of cultural activity of post-liberation Mymensingh. It was most active in the late 1970s when Ashraf Ali Khan was its chief executive. 

Monument For Liberation War, Mymensingh
Shishu Academy was set up under the initiative of president Ziaur Rahman in 1980. Its Mymensingh office was opened in 1990s. 

The first Shahid Minar was built in 1958 on crossing of the Amrita Babu Road, close Mymensingh Pourashava. It was relocated to the Ton Hall premises around mid-1990s.

Amarabati Natya Mandir was the first theater built in the heart of Mymensingh town in 1930s. Later it was converted into a cinema named Aloka. The Town Hall became the sole venue for staging a play or drama. Bahubrihi is one of the drama circles that has played a key role in sustaining the drama movement in Mymensigh since 1970s. Singing was part of daily life for most people since the 19th century. Mithun Dey and Sunil Dhar were two popular music teachers since the 1960s. Sunil Dhar established a music school at Atharo Bari Building in the 1980s. Folk Ballads: Maimansingha Gitika. There are five cinema halls in Mymensingh town. Most of these halls are very old but still in operation. Cable TV connectivity was launched in 1999 and together with DVD and VCR, most people now prefer home entertainment. However, on special occasions such as Eid, new year, Puja, and other vacations, people still watch movies in the cinema halls. Aloka was the oldest cinema hall which was demolished in 2006 to make a modern shopping and residential complex. Other cinema halls are Chayabani, Purabi and Shena Nibash. 

Alexandar Castle in Mymensingh Bangladesh
Muslim Institute library has been the most popular public library, established in 1934. The Bangladesh Parishad library was rich and popular which died down in the 1980s. The local Bar also has a library of its own rich in legal books and journals. 

The "Alexandar Castle" or "Lohar Kutir" as it is locally known, is where Maharaja Surya Kanta Acharya invited Grand Duke Boris of Russia and General Sir George White, and built it for his stay and a same Russian styled also built by the Ponni of Tangail. Rabindra nath Thakur also was in Alexandra castle for participating a citizen gathering. This earthquake-proof steel and timber building was built after his much vaunted "Crystal Palace" or "Rang Mahal" as it was locally known, was totally and completely destroyed by the "Great Bengal Earthquake" of 12 June 1897. Subsequently, "Soshi Lodge" or "Mymensingh Palace" was built at the site of "Rang Mahal". However Maharaja Surya Kanta died before "Soshi Lodge" could be completed. It was completed by Maharaja Soshi Kanta Acharyya. Both the buildings had once contained innumerable works of art, artifacts, sculptures and antiques collected from all over the world. Both these buildings have been declared as National Heritage Monuments. But unplanned development already damaged the scenario of rare Russian architecture in this country.Bipin Park is a small park near Boro Bazaar right on the Brahmaputra river.
Zainul Abedin Museum, Mymensingh, Bangladesh

The Mymensingh Museum was established in 1969. Though its collection comes from the palaces of zamindars of the greater Mymensingh region, it lacks proper preservation. The Zainul Abedin Museum was established in a house on the Brahmaputra River in 1975. The art gallery includes the paintings of Zainul Abedin, a pioneer of the country's modern art movement, as well as an art school, art cottage, and open-air stage. The Fish Museum & Biodiversity Center, also known as FMBC, is operated by Bangladesh Agricultural University. 


The "Panditparar Math" is a vast field on the bank of the Brahmaputra, in front of the Circuit House, which is used by the sports persons of the city. It has produced many notable cricket players like Prabir Kumar Sen, one of the few wicket keepers to stump Don Bradman and Hemanga Bose. It is also used for holding large public meetings. 

Mymensingh Girls' Cadet College
Body building has become a favourite pastime for many of the young adults of the town. The Muslim Institute has a well equipped gymnasium since 1950s. Although the zeal and enthusiasm observed in earlier times had significantly died down by the 1990s, young adults still visit this gymnasium on a regular basis for a work-out. Physician Abdul Halim was a renowned bodybuilder in the 1960s who became Mr. East Pakistan in a nationwide competition. Farhad Ahmed Kanchon, who later became a Member of the Parliament in late 1970s, was also a regular. 


Mymensingh is called city of education. Many students comes from another district for education. Mymensingh contains many famous universities, colleges and schools. Of particular note are Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh Medical College, Mymensingh Ananda Mohan College, Mymensingh Zilla School, Mymensingh Girls' Cadet College, Mymensingh Muminunnesa Women College, Vidyamoyee Uccha Balika Bidyalaya, Mymensingh Polytechnic Institute, Women Teachers Training College, Mymensingh Engineering College, Shahid Syed Nazrul Islam College, Agricultural University College, Mymensingh, Mymensingh Govt. Laboratory High School, Mymensingh Premier Ideal High School (Former Pre-Cadet High School), Onnesha English Medium School, Mukul Niketon School, Mymensingh Laboratory High School, Advanced Residential Model College and Royal Media College.
Maskandda Bus Stand Mymensingh

The distance from Mymensingh to Dhaka is about 120 km (75 mi) from the Mohakhali bus stop.The city was linked with Dhaka after the railway lines were connected around 1865. The road link to Dhaka was via Tangail until 1979 when president Ziaur Rahman ordered the completion of the half-finished highway between Dhaka and Mymensingh via Bhaluka. In 2012, the bus fare in the city was around TK.160 (US$2) per person. However, rickshaw is the main mode of transportation within the city area and the growth of the number of cars is highly progressive. Three-wheelers started to ply toward the end of 1990s. Train is by far the cheapest means to get to Mymensingh: Narayanganj-Bahadurabad Ghat Line. Apart from a number of local and direct trains, Ekota Express, Aghnibina Express, Tista Express, Bhrammaputra Express, Jamuna Express and Balaka Express connect the town with the capital of Dhaka. Train fares range from 40 tk to 120 tk ($0.57 to $1.71) per person depending upon the class and the train itself. It takes almost 3 hours to reach Mymensingh from Dhaka by train. All intercity trains connect the city with Jamalpur town as well. Several local trains run between Mymensingh town to Kishorganj and Netrokona. 

Mymensingh Medical College Hospital
Health Care and Cemeteries

Maharaja Suryakanata set up the first public hospital in Mymeninsingh along the river Brahmaputra. This is now a leprosy hospital. Mymensingh Medical College hospital is now serving the local people as well the people of surrounding districts.It is one of the oldest and biggest hospitals in Bangladesh.Since end of 1990s, private investment in the medical sector has gone up and a number of private hospitals of various sizes and clinics have been established. Situated over about 40 acres (160,000 m2) of land, the Golkibari Cemetery is the largest Muslim cemetery of the town. There is another Muslim graveyard at Kalibari named Kalibari Gorosthan. The Hindu Shmoshanghat in Kewatkhali by the side of Brahmaputra railway bridge and the Christian cemetery of the colonial British are also present, and various other smaller cemeteries. 

Mymensingh City Press Club
Media and literature

Bharat Mihir was one of the oldest newspaper ever published from Mymensingh in British India. Its publication commenced in 1875. After independence in 1971, Habibur Rahman Sheikh published in 1979 the first daily under the name and title Dainik Jahan, following his decade-long trial with weekly Banglar Darpan which had been launched in 1972. He also published a women's monthly under the title Chandrakash for almost a decade. The other newspapers published from the city include Dainik Ajker Bangladesh and Dainik Aker Khabar. Newspapers published from Dhaka came by train and was available around the noon till 1980s. Hawkers riding bicycle would deliver newspapers from home to home by the afternoon. As the roadlink with Dhaka improved, buses were used for transportation of Dhaka newspapers. Now newspapers from Dhaka arrive Mymensingh by 9.00 in the morning and are delivered to homes by the noon. 

Mymensingh Press Club, situated near Ganginarpar is a vibrant hub for the intellectuals, teachers, literature and cultural activists, in addition to media peoples. It hosts literary events, cultural functions and such other activities on a regular basis. Mymensingh Press Club was established towards the end of 1959. It was set up in course of a provincial conference of journalists and editors of the-then East Pakistan, held on 7–8 March 0f 1959. Literary circles of note were Sahitya Sava and Troyodaosh Sammilini. Earlier, in 1960s, a leader of the Ahmadya community, Ahmad Toufiq Chowdhury, had set up printing press in his residence at Maharaja Road to bring out a periodic magazine entitled Writupatra. Poets Musharraf Karim and Farid Ahmed Dulal and writer Iffat Ara are some of the important literary names from Mymensingh. In 1985, Ara set up a press in her own residence to bring out the monthly Dwitiyo Chinta. 

Jagadish Chandra Bose
Notable Personalities

Mymensingh has multiple meanings. It may refer to the original Mymensingh district comprising Netrokona, Jamalpur and Kishoreganj as well as Tangail. It may also refer to Mymensingh town per se in a narrow sense. 

Indian scientist Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose was born in Mymensingh on 30 November 1858. The name of Mymensingh is associated with people like anti-British leader Mahadev Sannyal, writer Upendra Kishore Roychowdhury, Sukumar Roy and Leela Majumder, musician and a disciple of Rabindranath Tagore Sailaja Ranjan Majumder, Maharaja Surya Kanta Acharyya, Maharaja Soshi Kanta Acharya, Maharajkumar Sitangshu Kanta Acharya, eminent musician andformer MLA of the then East Pakistan Legislative Assembly, Maharajkumar Snehangshu Kanta Acharya, eminent musician Maharaja Brajendra Kishore Roy Chaudhuri, painter Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin, ballad collector Sirajuddin Kashimpuri, noveslist Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay who received early education in Mymensingh town. 

Humayun Ahmed
Some other renowned people who are associated with Mymensingh are Humayun Ahmed a popular Bengali writer, Nihar Ranjan Roy, prominent writer, P.C. Sorcar - famous magician, acting president of Bangladesh during the war of liberation Syed Nazrul Islam in addition to three other presidents of the country, namely, Justice Abu Sayeed Chowdhury, Ahsanuddin Ahmed Chowdhury. Politician and author Abul Mansur Ahmed, the-then Governor of East Pakistan Abdul Monem Khan, educationist principal Ibrahim Khan, president Shahabuddin Ahmed, Language Hero and veteran Politician Khaleque Nawaz Khan, poets Nirmalendu Goon, Helal Hafiz, Musharraf Karim, and Abid Azad, singer Mitali Mukherjee, writers Jatin Sarker, Ghulam Rabbani an Urdu speaking Bangladeshi, author of first Urdu-Bangla and Bangla-Urdu dictionary, played an important role in maintaining communal harmony during the 1964 riots and the 1971 liberation war. Among the prominent politicians of Mymensingh today are Cpatain (Rtd) Mujibur Rahman Fakir, Mr. Promod Mankhin, Principal Motiur Rahman, Mr. Mosharraf Hossain, Advocate Jahirul Huq, Dr. Amanullah etc. 

Shamsun Nahar Iffat Ara
Golam Samdani Quraishy, writer, founder GS-BCUTA; Shahid Akhand, Helena Khan, and Iffat Ara and international cricketer Prabir Kumar (Khokan) Sen, one of the few wicketkeeper to stump Don Bradman and football player, Jahurul Islam one of the wealthiest people in 1970s Bangladesh are associated with Mymensingh. 

The Oscar-winning Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray and Bollywood actress Rani Mukherjee's family hail from this district. Taslima Nasreen, the feminist writer and critic of Islam, and a physician of Jhansi, India, Dr. Sudhangsu Mohan Bhowmick of Lytton Medical School and his late wife Ina were born and brought up here. Dr. Subhrangshu Kanta Acharya, the former Director General of Geological Survey of India and the noted agriculturalist, chemist and engineer, Satrughna Kanta Acharya originated from the district. Dr. Komol Krishno Kundu ex- head of department of Pathology, Mymensingh medical college. He is a freedom fighter and paticipated in the war of liberation and servs many injured freedom fighters.

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