Chittagong

An ancient city, much of Chittagong has been inhabited for over a thousand years, first by Bengali Buddhist kingdoms, later by Sufi Muslim Sultanates, and finally by the Mughal Dynasty and the British colonial administration. The modern history of Chittagong has been a tragic one; in the 1930s, it was the site of an unsuccessful uprising by independence activists, and in 1971, many years after the partition of the Indian subcontinent, it was the epicenter of the war between Bangladesh (then East Pakistan), and Pakistan.

Today, Chittagong is a mostly industrial, crowded city, and unremarkable in most aspects, save for its shipbreaking industry. After ships have reached the end of their service lives, the vast majority of them are sent to yards northwest of Chittagong, where armies of workers pour over them and dismantle them entirely for scrap.

An ancient city, much of Chittagong has been inhabited for over a thousand years, first by Bengali Buddhist kingdoms, later by Sufi Muslim Sultanates, and finally by the Mughal Dynasty and the British colonial administration. The modern history of Chittagong has been a tragic one; in the 1930s, it was the site of an unsuccessful uprising by independence activists, and in 1971, many years after the partition of the Indian subcontinent, it was the epicenter of the war between Bangladesh (then East Pakistan), and Pakistan.

Today, Chittagong is a mostly industrial, crowded city, and unremarkable in most aspects, save for its shipbreaking industry. After ships have reached the end of their service lives, the vast majority of them are sent to yards northwest of Chittagong, where armies of workers pour over them and dismantle them entirely for scrap.

Experiences

Chandanpura Mosque and Shahi Jama-e-Masjid

Of the many mosques within Chittagong, two standout sites are Shahi Jama-e-Masjid, and Chandanpura Mosque. The Shahi Jama-e-Masjid was built atop a tall hill, and features Central Asian design influences, including in its minaret, or prayer tower, and the elaborate, curved arches overlooking a central courtyard.

Also of note is the Chandanpura Mosque, a compact, eclectic structure featuring onion domes, a complex of minarets, and intricate, decorative panels. Indeed the design of the Chandanpura Mosque is varied and difficult to pin down, as it sources a number of aesthetics from various architectural traditions, among them Central Asia and India.

Chittagong Hill Tribes

Drive into the hilly country outside Chittagong, where you will be a guest of a small village. Half of the region’s small population belongs to tribal groups such as the Chakma, Marma, Tripura, Tenchungya, Chak and Mru, whose are descended from Himalayan peoples, practice Theravada Buddhism and have their own languages and traditions. Spend the afternoon visiting with the local people and learning about their traditions, lives and livelihoods, and conclude the day with a traditional celebratory meal held in your honor.

Court Building

Situated atop Fairy Hill, the Court Building is a British-era colonial structure that offers visitors panoramic views of Chittagong, which are particularly beautiful at night. A large, sprawling compound, Court Building comprises hundreds of rooms.

Pahartali Lake

Also known as Foy Lake, after the British engineer who designed it in 1924, Pahartali is a picturesque body of water not far from the city center. On weekends, the lake is often crowded with families and all the manner of day-trippers. The best time to visit is in the mornings, when the temperatures are cool and comfortable.

Shrine of Baizid Bostami

A colorful shrine, the Mazar of Bayazid Bostami is visited by many pilgrims and travelers. It includes a pond inhabited by hundreds of tortoises, whom, according to legend, are descendants of djinn, or evil spirits who were lured into the turtles by a saint who visited the area over a thousand years ago.

Tomb of Hazrat Shah Sufi Amanat Khan

Hailing from the Indian state of Bihar, Hazrat Shah Sufi Amanat Khan was a saint of the Sufi order of Islam, a mystical, esoteric strain of Islam known for its tolerance and acceptance of other orders. After his death, Hazrat Shah Sufi Amanat Khan was recognized for his piety and spiritual practices, and honored by this elaborate, if small, marble mausoleum.

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