Noakhali Sampler

3 tourist hotspots to hit up in this southern district

By Ashikuz Zaman Ashik & Tasnuva Hassan

In 1660, Bhulua, an area in what is now part of the Chattogram division, was in serious trouble from flooding. To save the area, local administration decided to dig a large canal to divert the floodwaters away from the settlements towards the Meghna and Feni rivers. “New canal” in the local dialect was “Noa khal,” and over time, the entire district became synonymous with the life-saving landmark. At present, it is known as Noakhali, and is the only district in Bangladesh that does not have an eponymous city. Instead, the district town is called Maijdee.

Noakhali enjoys tremendous cultural and traditional significance, from its roles in the Wahhabi and Khilafat movements, to older connections to the anti-colonial sentiments and so, is home to some tourist hotspots. Here are three not-to-be-missed locations.

GANDHI ASHRAM

The Gandhi Ashram is a spectacular historical monument in Noakhali. It is located on the side of the road adjacent to Jayag Bazar in the Sonaimuri Upazila, about 25 km north of Noakhali District Sadar Maijdee Court. The Ashram was established at the house of the late Barrister Hemant Kumar Ghosh, the then zamindar. At present, the Gandhi Ashram has gained a nationwide reputation as a welfare organization in Noakhali.

As far as the brief history of this exceptional organization is concerned, in late 1948, when the poison of communalism spread all over India, the effects of the communal riots in West Bengal reached the shores (or riverbanks) of Noakhali. Communal violence broke out, notably in the Ramganj thana in Laxmipur. Many decorated families were put to the torch, and the green soil ran red with the blood of the injured and maimed.

Mahatma Gandhi, the forerunner of the non-cooperation and non-violence movement, rushed to Noakhali as a pioneer of the peace mission. He was determined to bring about brotherhood. He was immersed in the pursuit of unity of all, irrespective of religion and caste. His visions for the restoration of peace, the ardent wish of this great man, a pioneer of non-violence, principled, truthful, and human rights, was successful.

The Gandhi Ashram Trust is one of the most visited places of this district. The property of this trust was donated by the then landlord Barrister Hemant Kumar Ghosh during the visit of Mahatma Gandhi when he traveled to Begumganj sub-district in 1946. It has been turned into a memorial complex with a small museum inside it.

BAJRA SHAHI JAME MOSQUE

The traditional Bajra Shahi Jame Mosque is a unique example of Mughal architecture. The famous mosque is located on the west side of the main road at Bajra in Sonaimuri Upazila, about 15 km north of the main town of Maijdi in Noakhali. It has made a historical contribution to the propagation of Islam throughout Bangladesh, including Noakhali. 

The Mughal emperors of Delhi ruled undivided India for more than 300 years. During this long period, the emperors and their high-ranking bureaucrats built innumerable buildings and mosques in different places, which still exist as rare and brilliant examples of art in architecture. These include Agra’s Taj Mahal, Sekendra, Dewane Mango, Agra Fort, Delhi’s Red Fort, and Delhi’s Shahi Jame Mosque, and this beautiful mosque here in our very own Noakhali.

KALANDI ZAMINDAR BARI

Kalandi Zamindar Bari is a historical zamindar house located in Mohammadpur village in Senabagh Upazila of Noakhali district in Bangladesh. It is also known as the Roy Chowdhury Zamindar Bari. This house was established by two zamindars (Ramendra Roy Chowdhury and Zamindar Kangali Roy). They have done a lot of public welfare work for the betterment of the people. If you go to Kalandi from Noakhali Sadar through Senbagh Upazila, you can go to Roy Chowdhury Zamindar’s house.

WHERE TO STAY

You can rent a hotel room starting from BDT200 onwards. There are many hotels to stay, such as Rest Hotel Valentino (Mosque Junction, Maizdi), Dak Bungalow District Council, Rest House LGED, Rest House Forest Department, Guest House Al-Amin, Hotel Rafsan, Hotel R-Farhan, Three Star Residential, Sugandha International, etc. 

WHERE TO EAT

Noakhali is particularly famous for its pescetarian dishes. Various kinds of fresh fish, dried fish, etc, are popular choices. You won’t have any trouble finding a restaurant, café, or hotel to dine at when you come here.

+ posts

Preserving Heritage in a Modern World

Lost in Language

Q/A with Golam Sohrab Dodul

Monument to Sustainability