Chapainawabganj District

Chapainawabganj, mostly renowned as a city of mangoes, is located on the north western part of Bangladesh under Rajshahi division. It covers an area of 1702.55 square kilometres with 16, 47,521 people according to the census of 2011. The district is surrounded by Malda of India from North, by Murshidabad of India from West, by Naogaon district from East and by Rajshahi district from the South-East side. The location of Chapainawabganj is between the latitude 24’22 to 24’57 and longitude 87’23 to 88’23. It has a rough and extreme climate with 44 degree celsius maximum and 4 degree celsius minimum average temperature and 186 cm annual average rainfall.

Chapainawabganj has two distinct variations in nature of soil and based on that difference, the district is divided into two different parts named Borendra area and Diyar area. The Borind track situated in the eastern part of Mahananda River and constituting Chapainawabganj Sadar upazila, Gomastapur Upazila and Nachole is known as Borendra area. This is well known for producing varieties of rice. On the other hand, the area created by several changes of the Padma river flow and situated beside the Padma river basin is known as Diyar area. Because of the fertility of Diyar land, crops like rice, wheat, melons are well produced here. But the most popular crop is Kalai and the most famous product is Mango here.

Several stories regarding the naming of Chapainawabganj are found in the history. Some consider that the name ‘Nawabganj’ came from the Nawabs who used to come in this land for hunting. Another story says that the name ‘Chapai’ came from a beautiful dancer called ‘Champarani or Champabai’ who became famous and favourite of the Nawabs. It is also heard that the name Chapai was after Champak, the capital of Lakhinder. However, several inscriptions and descriptions of thirteenth and fourteenth century according to traveller Ibn Battuta and texts of Jains provide evidences of this Barind land being under Pundravardhana, subsequently known as Gaur. During the British reign, this land was a part of Maldah (presently a state in India) and it was included in Rajshahi division after the partition of Bengal in 1905 AD. After establishing the Sub-registry office here in 1908 due to the increased activity, the post office at Chapai village was shifted to Nawabganj town in 1925. From that time, Nawabganj became renowned for indigo and silk production among the Indian sub-continent.  This town was officially declared as a district on 1 March, 1984 and was formally renamed as Chapainawabganj on August 1, 2001 considering the demands of the inhabitants of this district.

The land of Barind bears testimony to several remarkable bloody struggles during colonial and post-colonial period. The land was first drenched with blood during Indigo Resistance movement in 1859. Then, again in 1932, this land witnessed Santhal Rebellion under the lead of Jitu Batka and Manu Sarkar. Then during 1946 to 1950, under the leadership of Ramenda Mitra and Ila Mitra, local people participated in Santhal movement and ‘Nachole uprises’. These widespread movements aiming to the distribution of two-third crops among the peasants and rest among the owners initially took place in Kendua village and became well known as Tebhaga movement later in 1952. Chapainawabganj also has a struggling history of spontaneous participation in the war of independence of Bangladesh in 1971. Having the bravery and vow to save the country and her people from the torments under Pakistan, the local freedom fighters and local inhabitants made the Pak army retreat from the battlefield. Captain Mohiuddin Jahangir, under the direction of then sector commander Kazi Nuruzzaman, led fifty fighters dividing them into three groups to attack the city. On 13 December midnight, he crossed the Mahananda River and fought Pak troop in a place named ‘Rehaichar’. Due to that fierce fighting, at the very moment of Pak army’s falling back, e ruthless bullet pierced Captain Mohiuddin Jahangir and he became martyred. His wise direction and war strategy has made him immortal among the liberated people of Bangladesh.

Chapainawabganj is the home of numerous historical monuments and relics. Shibganj upazila, being the former capital of ancient Bengal has varieties of historical establishments established in 14th and 15th century and also some buildings built by the local zamindars under the British reign. Chhota Sona Mosque (15th century), Darsbari Mosque and Madrasa (15th century), Dhanaichak Mosque (15th century), Khanjandighi Mosque (15th century), Dakhil Darwaza (13th century), Shah Sujar Kachari Bari (19th century),  Tohakhana Mosque (19th century), Tomb of Shah Neyamatullah(Rah.) (17th century), Kansat Royal Palace, Tomb of Captain Mohiuddin Jahangir (1971), Chapai Jame Mosque (893 AH), Ancient Mosque of Maharajpur (Mughal period), Majhpara Ancient Mosque (1775), Nilkuthi of Ramchandrapurhat (1859-61 AD), Bargharia and Maharajpur Mancha, Jora Math, Naoda Buruj (also known as Sharburuj), One domed observatory, Shahpur Garh, Jagalbari Dhibi (8th century), Chhota Jambaria Dar-Us- Salam Jame Mosque, Baragachhi Dakkhin Tola Bazaar Jame Mosque, Bholahat silk cottage and chimney, ; Ali Shahpur Mosque, Kendua Ghasura Mosque, Kalihar Zamindarbari, Mallikpur Zamindarbari. This district is home of approximately 4680 mosques including the ancient ones and newly built ones. It is assumed that during the reign of Muslim Sultans, many Islamic preachers entered into this land and built mosques for prayers and preaching Islam. The architecture, embroidered walls and inscriptions on the walls of the ancient mosques and monuments present proof of the existence of Gaur.

The Padma, the Mahananda, the Punarbhaba and the Pagla are the main rivers in this district. Once these rivers were used for intra-district transportation but the transportation has lost its popularity and the district is facing the lack of clean and safe water day by day owing to the negative effects of disputed ‘Farakka’ barrage such as the Padma is losing its navigability, extreme river erosion is occurring and so on.  However, a few boats are still used for transporting goods and communicating eastern and western parts of the district.

Chapainawabganj has modern intercity and intra-city communication system. With the capital city, the communication is based on roads only, but rail communication is available for Sirajganj and Khulna from Chapainawabganj. Moreover, there is rail communication with Nachole and Gomastapur Upazila. Having a boundary with India, there is a land port here for exporting and importing goods. There is an international rail line connecting this district with Maldah, India

Chapainawabganj is also well known for its distinctive local tone and pronunciation of some sounds. There is a difference between the standard Bangla and Chapainawabganj dialect in cases of pronouncing /s/ and /ʃ/ sounds. There is a common expression called ‘be /be/’ used as the last word of a question as in /ki: korchis be/ (in English, What are you doing?). Another important distinction is noted in the vocabulary between standard Bangla and the dialect. For example, SB-/bola/= CnD- /koha/ (to tell in English), SB-/ jar/= CnD- /thanda/ (cold in English),  SB- /phorsha/=CnD /phorcha/(bright in English), SB- /Sokal/=CnD- /ponhat/(morning in English) and so on. [SB refers to Standard Bangla and CnD to Chapainawabganj Dialect].

Usually all the well-known sports in Bangladesh are practised in Chapainawabganj such as Football, Cricket, Hockey, Badminton, Swimming, Boating competition, Kabadi (Ha-du-du), Judo- karate and so on. Chapainawabganj district has 3 stadiums including old Chapainawabganj district Stadium, newly built Chapainawabganj District Stadium and Shibganj Upazila Stadium. Besides the stadiums, there are various sports organizations and social organizations such as Youth Peace Association which have their own fields and arrange several annual sports competitions.

Chapainawabganj district has several institutions for practising and promoting cultural activities including music, dance, drama etc. Sangeeta Sangeet Niketan (1972), Uttarayan Sanskritik Parishad (1976), Suratanraga Vidyalaya (1983), Muktamahadal (1975), Sanglap (1990), Mahananda Sangeet Niketan (1988), Udichi (1984), Theater (1978), Surachanda, Swaralipi Shilpi Goshthi, Sargam are some of the notable cultural organisations. At present, Shilpakala Academy and Shishu Academy are working on music and dance training to the children and teenagers in this district.  However, painting training has not been remarkably organised in Chapainawabganj; but it has gifted us with many talented artists including Rafiqunnabi (known as Ranbi), Khairul Alam, Shafiqul Alam, Habibur Rahman, Tasikul Islam Bakul, Raja Khan and S.K. Saha Piyas. This district has some popular traditional sub-genres of Folk music such as Gambhira, Alkap and Meyeli geet. Gambhira is a combination of music and dance played by two characters: grandfather and grandson and through their performance, they highlight various social issues; Alkap is a kind of folk music involving drama where males put on makeup and play the roles of females and tell stories through music and meyeli geet is performed by females in the pre-marriage or post-marriage ceremonies. It is a great regret that nowadays these folk cultures are losing people’s interest.

Chapainawabganj has some people from ethnic community ‘Santal’ living especially in Nachole upazila. With people from different religions and several archaeological interests, Chapainawabganj is a city of peace and heritage. In recent days, Chapainawabganj Helpline has been the largest voluntary organization consisting of approximately 56,000 people which works on welfare volunteering, virtual volunteering, environmental volunteering and emergency volunteering. Thus people help each other staying together in this district and represent their district proudly among all Bangladeshis.

At a glance of Chapai Nawabganj
01 Area 1702.56 square kilometers (657.36 sq mi)
02 Population 16,47,521
03 Founding Year 1984
03 Density 970/km2
04 Literacy Rate 66%
05 Seats in the Parliament 3
06 Postcode 6300
07 Sector in Liberation War 7

Upazilas (5)

  • Bholahat
  • Gomastapur
  • Nachole
  • Chapai Nawabganj Sadar
  • Shibganj

Municipalities

  • Chapai Nawabganj
  • Shibganj
  • Rohanpur

Main Rivers

Padma, Mahananda, Pagla, Punarbhaba.

Main Newspapers

Dainik Chapai Drishti, Saptahik Chapai Protidin, Saptahik Sona Masjid, Dainik Chapai Dorpon, Daily Chapai Chetro, Chapai Barta, Saptahik Bholahat,Saptahik Gourbarta.

Notable places

  • Choto Shona Mosque
  • Rajshadin Gaur of Bokhtier Khalgi
  • Graveyard and Mango Orchard of Shah Niamatullah Wali
  • Landscape of Babudaing
  • Kansat Rajbari
  • Shah Suja Hambolkhana
  • Nowba Tomb
  • Darsbari
  • Shibmondir and couple of Temple in Huzabpur
  • Darashbari Mosque
  • Royal palace
  • Baragharia Kacharibari (Revenue Office)
  • Chapai Mosque
  • Naoda Stupa (Buddhist monument)
  • Nachole palace
  • Graveyard of Birshreshtha Captain Mohiuddin Jahangir
  • Adina College
  • Idrishi Bhaban
  • Tohakhana Complex
  • Khania Dighi Mosque
  • Khania Dighi
  • Dhania Chalk Mosque
  • Chamchika mosque
  • Alpana village

Highlighted Personalities

  • Khabeeruddin Ahmed ( Politician, Lawyer)
  • Ila Mitra (Communist and peasant movement organizer)
  • Emajuddin Ahmed (Political scientist, author and educationist)
  • Rafiqun Nabi (artist and cartoonist)
  • Momtazuddin Ahmed (Dramatist)
  • Mohammad Moniruzzaman Miah (Academic)
  • Mohammad Zobdul Hoque
  • Captain Mohiuddin Jahangir (Birshreshtha)
  • Major Nazmul Haque (freedom fighter)
  • Major Gias Uddin Chowdhury (freedom fighter)
  • Lieutenant Rafiqul Islam (freedom fighter)
  • Lieutenant Abdul Kaiyum Khan(freedom fighter)

Written By: Nushrat Ara