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This article is about the city. For the district, see Narayanganj Districtmarker.


Narayanganj (Bengali: নারায়ণগঞ্জ Naraeongônj) is a city in central Bangladeshmarker. It is located in the Narayanganj Districtmarker, 20 km southeast from the capital city of Dhakamarker and has a population of 1.5 million. The city is on the bank of the Shitalakshya River. It is the oldest and the most prominent river port of Bangladesh, grew into a place of trade and commerce and therefore, became known as a ganj.. Narayanganj is one of the industrial areas of Bangladesh. It is a center of business and industry, especially the jute trade and processing plants, and the textile sector of the country. It is nicknamed the Dundeemarker of Bangladesh due to the presence of lots of jute mills. Dundee was the first industrialized Juteopolis in the world.

History

The town got its name from Bicon Lal Pandey, a Hindu religious leader who was also known as Benur Thakur or Lakhsmi Narayan Thakur. He leased the area from the British East India Company in 1766 following the Battle of Plassey. He donated the markets and the land on the banks of the river as Devottor or Given to God property, bequethed for maintenance expenses for the worship of the god Narayan.Narayanganj municipality was constituted on September 8, 1876 to control an area of 4.5 square miles with a population of 27,876. It had 12 commissioners, 4 nominated and 8 elected, including the town's important jute merchants, one of whom was always the chairman in the past. According to available records, it was considered as a model municipality in the province of Bengalmarker. The town, the market, the roads and the surroundings were neat and clean and well maintained. The drainage system was in order. The water works of the municipality were erected at a cost of Rs 200,000 from private subscription by the European jute merchants of the town. The name of the first Bangali elected Chairman of Narayanganj Municipality was Syed Mohammad Maleh.

A post office was set up in 1866, and Dhaka-Narayanganj telegraph service was started from 1877. The Bank of Bengal introduced the first telephone service in 1882. In 1952, the area of Narayanganj municipality was extended up to 7.5 sq miles by a declaration of the Dhaka Judge court.

Geography

Downtown Narayanganj


Narayanganj district is bounded by Gazipur and Narsingdi districts on the north, Brahmanbaria and Comilla districts on the east, Munshiganj district on the south, and Dhaka district on the west. Geologically, the area lies on the edge of the Madhupur tract and the Holocene floodplain deposits form the aquifer. The total area of the district is 759.57 sq km., of which 48.56 sq km. is reverine and 0.60 sq km. is under forest. The district lies between 23°33´and 23°57´north latitude and between 90°26´ and 90°45´ east longitude. It is flanked by the Shitalakshya River on the east and the Burigangamarker river on the south and southwest. The Shitalakshya River divides the town into two parts, the Narayanganj Municipal Area and Kadam Rasul Municipal Area. This area is crossed by many small artificial canals fed by monsoon rain. Average annual rainfall is 2550 mm, 80 to 90% of which occurs between May and October.

Narayanganj port

A street view of Narayanganj
Narayanganj is connected to Dhaka by three metaled roads and a meter gauge rail line as well as by waterways through the rivers Burigangamarker and Shitalakshya River. Steamer services from Narayanganj started in 1862. At that time, steamer and rail routes via Goalanda and Narayanganj connected Dhaka with Calcuttamarker. Narayanganj was then known more as the port of Dhakamarker. It constituted the great mart east of Sirajganjmarker on the Jamuna, and had regular steam communication with Calcutta, Sylhet, Assammarker and Kachar. Narayanganj port then carried on an extensive trade with Calcuttamarker, importing cloth, piece goods, salt, etc., and exporting country produce of all kinds, especially jute and seeds. The port had trade with Chittagongmarker, which imported cotton, timber, oil, hides etc from Narayanganj and exported tobacco, pottery, and country produce. The trade of Narayanganj with Rangun (Yangon) and Akyab comprised import of timber, cotton, catechu, etc, and export of tobacco, betel nut, etc. The British government declared Narayanganj as a tax-free port in 1879, a move which attracted many English people to come and start businesses in Narayanganj.

Present day Narayanganj port was formally opened in June 1955. Facilities include a two-storied terminal building, seven RCC jetties, ten pontoon jetties, and a number of warehouses covering a total floor space of 62,000 sq ft. Many private industrial establishments such as jute processing industries have their own berthing and handling facilities. Narayanganj has been for centuries a river port, mainly serving local agriculture and the jute trade. Its proximity to Dhaka favored the development of light industry, and it is now a national textile manufacturing centre, with factories undertaking all stages of production, from spinning, dyeing/bleaching and weaving to the making of garments and other finished cloth products. Other industries include soap making, hosiery, metal re-rolling, and metal & wood furniture manufacture.

Trade and commerce

Narayanganj grew in importance after the arrival of the Portuguese and the English traders during the early parts of the 17th and 18th centuries respectively. The first foreign company to start jute business in Narayanganj was the Ralli Brothers, which, with the help of an Assamese company, started to export jute from the port to the western countries in 1830. There were 20 firms at Narayanganj in 1907-08 engaged in the purchase, bailing and supply of raw jute to Calcutta mills. Of these, 18 were in European and two in Indianmarker ownership.

Jute industry

With formation of Pakistanmarker in 1947, things changed overnight. Narayanganj, which was simply a jute market, had to be converted into an industrial center of jute. All the jute mills and presses in and around Calcutta fell to the share of India. East Pakistan was rich in the golden fiber but had no jute mill and had a very small baling capacity, which had to be increased within a short time to meet the overseas demand. The business community took up the required initiative. The Adamjees of West Pakistan came into the field at this stage and established the biggest jute mill in the world at Narayanganj. The Adamjee Jute Mills started production by December 12, 1951. The first jute mill of the town was, however, established by the Bawa Group (also of West Pakistan) at Sonakanda of Narayanganj.

Textile and cotton industry

Sonargaon is historically famous for manufacturing a species of very fine muslin. John Crawford, who was for a long time in the service of the East India Company, stated to a Committee of the House of Commons of the United Kingdommarker in 1830-31 that the fine variety of cotton in the neighborhood of Dhakamarker, from which the fine muslin were produced, was cultivated by the natives alone and was not at all known in the English market, or even in Calcutta.

The Dhakeshwari Cotton Mill of Narayanganj, established by Babu Surya Kumar Bose on the bank of the Shitalakshya in 1927, was the first textile mill in the whole Britishmarker district of Dhaka. The Chittaranjan Cotton Mill was established in 1929. Babu Ramesh Chandra Roy Chowdhury, a professor of chemistry at the Jagannath College established the Luxmi Narayan Cotton Mill in 1932. The Dhakeshwari opened a second mill in 1937. Narayanganj is also the principal hosiery manufacturing centre of Bangladeshmarker. The first hosiery factory was established in 1921. The factory named as Hangsha Hosiery at Tanbazar started its operations with four hand-driven ribbon machines. A major factor that promoted the expansion of hosiery industry at Narayanganj is its location on the bank of the Shitalakshya, which facilitated transportation of raw materials and the finished products and supplied good water to wash knitted clothes. At present, Narayanganj is one of the main centres for the garments industries. There are more than a dozen soap factories at Narayanganj. There are some silicate factories too. Narayanganj town also has a number of large flourmills. In the past, flour used to come to Narayanganj from Calcutta.

Other

There is a national warehouse of the silo-type on the bank of the Shitalakshya River at Siddirganj of Narayanganj. It is 196 feet high and its capacity is 52,000 metric tons. Its construction started in 1967 and was finished in 1971 with the help of a World Bank grant of $9 million. It can store 20 metric tons of wheat per hour, which is unloaded automatically from ships. Wheat is then supplied from here to different areas of the country.

Tradition and heritage

Ruins of Sonargaon, Isa Khan's capital
On the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway about 29 km from Dhaka, Sonargaon is one of the oldest capitals of Bengalmarker. It was the seat of Deva Dynasty until the 13th century. From that century onward till the advent of the Mughals, Sonargaon was the subsidiary capital of the Sultanate of Bengal.

Another name of Sonargaon was "The City of Panam". Now, the relies of buildings of the old dynasties, Goaldia Mosque and the Folklore Museum that houses artifacts from every cultural trait of the country increase the attractions of this place.At Jainal Abedin Museum in Sonargaon, you will find some historical and archeological things. Among the ancient monuments still intact are the Tomb of Sultan Ghiasuddin, the shrines of Panjpirs and Shah Abdul Alia and a beautiful mosque in Goaldi village. The World Monuments Fund placed it on its 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in this planet.

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