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.
The Sylhet valley has a good number of haors 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 haors provide a sanctuary to the millions of migratory birds who fly from across the Himalayas to escape the severe Siberian winters.
It is called "The land of two leaves and a bud". There are a lot of tea estates including the largest one in the world covered by lush green carpet. Most of the tea estates are in Srimongol. Tea Research Institute of Bangladesh stands here. Bangladesh produces and exports a large quantity of high quality tea every year. The terraced tea garden, pineapple, rubber and lemon plantations form a beautiful landscape which known to us as Srimongol. It is known as the tea capital in Bangladesh.
Lawachhara Rain Forest:
It is located about 30 kilometres from Srimangal town in Sylhet. Anyone would be attracted to the apparently primeval wilderness of Lawachhara, consisting of large, medium and small hillocks and plains in a picturesque land configuration and physical environment. The total area of the forest is 4,750 hectares of which 3,500 hectares area is forest and the rest a national park. This is not a natural forest but has been created by man. It was developed in 1922 during the rule of the then British Raj. This forestland has been enriched year after year, decade after decade and has resulted in a very pleasing sylvan environment.
The animals that live in the depths of the forest are jungle fowl, reptiles, jackals, monkeys, hanumans, porcupines, mongoose, civet cats, fish-eating felines, squirrels, rabbits and numerous species of birds. As it is a hilly place people can see hill moinas here. There are 250 species of birds in this forest including local and migratory birds. There are 10 species of reptiles and 150 species of trees and plants as well various kinds of animals.
There are Khasia settlements within and around the forest which are locally called Khasia Punji. It is learnt from relevant quarters that 23 Khasia families were given tenure of 15 hectares in 1950. Now the population has increased to 160. At the beginning there were 30/40 people. It cannot be termed as a population explosion in that sense, but it still puts pressure on the land. Khasias call their headman a Ã¢â‚¬Å“ministerÃ¢â‚¬Â.
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Jaflong is one of the most attractive tourist spots in Sylhet division. It's about 60 km far from Sylhet town and takes two hours drive to reach there. Jaflong is also a scenic spot nearby rare beauty of rolling stones from hills. It is situated besides the river Mari in the lap of Hill Khashia. The Mari river is coming from the great Himalayas of India, which bringing million tons of stone boulders with its tide. Jaflong is totally a hilly area of real natural beauty where hills are greenish with the forests. The other tourist areas nearby Jaflong are Tamabil, Sripur and Jaintapur.
Jaintiapur is only 5 km. from Jaflong, a scenic spot amidst tea gardens. Jaintapur was the capital of Jainta Kingdome at 18th century. Jainta Rajbari was the palace of Kings of Jainta; itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just adjacent of Jainta Bazar. Though the condition of this kingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s palace is already damaged enormously but a huge number of tourists visit here due to the historical background of Jainta Kingdom.
The Shrine of Hazrat Shah Jalal:
Among the several places of historical interest in Sylhet town is the shrine of Saint Hazrat Shah Jalal. Even 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 watch craft 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.
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.
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, practicing their age-old rites, rituals, customs and traditions.
During festivals such as, Rash LeeIa (Full-moon night in February) and Doljatra, the attractive young girls dressed in colorful 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.