Khulna District

Khulna is an administrative district in the south-western part of Bangladesh under the jurisdiction of Khulna division. It is the third largest city of the country. Khulna district was established in 1882. Khulna Municipality was declared on 12 December, 1884 and it was upgraded into a Municipal Corporation on 12 December, 1984. Khulna City Corporation was declared on 6 August, 1990. The district lies in between 21°41′ and 23°00′ north latitudes and in between 89°14′ and 89°45′ east longitudes. The district is bounded by Jessore and Narail districts on the north, Bay of Bengal on the south, Bagerhat district on the east and Satkhira district on the west. It is part of the Ganges Delta, the world’s largest river delta. The Sunbarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest is in the southern part of the delta. The district has an area of 4,389.11 sq. km (1,694.64 sq. mi) of which 607.80 sq. km is riverine and 2028.22 sq. km is under forest. The district consists of 9 Upazilas, 2 Municipalities and 68 Union Parishads. According to the 2011 Bangladesh Census, Khulna district has a population of 2,318,527. Males constitute 50.22% of the population and females 49.78%. Density of the population is 530 inhabitants/km2.

There are different opinions about the origin of the name Khulna. Bawalis used to cut wood from the Sundarbans near Khulna and bring it in boats and anchor in the rivers Bhairab and Rupsha. It is said that the name Khulna is derived from the word ‘khulo na’ which means ‘don’t open’ uttered by a forest deity in the jungle when a boatman was about to open a boat in high tide. According to many, Chandi Kavya had two wives named Lahana and Khullana. He established a temple named after Khullana. Khulna was later named after this temple. Many historians also think that there used to be a village called ‘Kismat Khulna’ here. When this village became a city, it’s name was given Khulna.

The Human Development Index (HDI) of Khulna is 0.620 which is 6th among all districts of Bangladesh. It indicates moderate life expectancy, literacy Rate and per capita income of the inhabitants. The district has a literacy rate of 60.1% for the population 7 years and above. Khulna is situated on the bank of the river Rupsha and Bhairab. Shibsa, Pasur,  Arpangachhia, Vadra, Sholmari and Shutarkhali are the main rivers that flow through the district. The average high temperature is 34.3°C and the average low temperature is 12.4°C. Annual rainfall averages 1,809  millimetres. Numerous daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly and literary newspapers and magazines are published from Khulna. Daily Purbanchal, Daily Probaho, Daily Anirban, Daily Tatthya and Daily Rajpather Dabi are notable among them. There are also some Radio Stations in Khulna, namely, Bangladesh Betar Khulna (106.5 MHz), Radio Today (89.6), Radio Foorti (88.0) and Radio Khulna FM (88.8). Folk songs including Jari, Sari, Kirtan, Gazir Gan, Halui Gan, Manasha Bhasan, Bhati Pujargan etc. are notable. Folk games and sports still prevalent in the district including Kabadi or Ha-du-du, Gollachhut, horse race, Kanamachhi, Lathikhela, Wrestling, Danguti, Boat race, Baghbandhi, Jor Bijor, etc. Dramas are also performed by various theatre groups. Traditional Transport include Palanquin (extinct), horse carriage, bullock cart (nearly extinct) and boats.

Khulna is Bangladesh’s third-largest economic centre. Mainly agriculture as well as industry dependent economy has developed here. The economy of Khulna is predominantly agricultural. But its economy is also dependent on the Sundarbans and Mongla port. Main sources of income includes agriculture with 34.90%, non-agricultural laborer 6.22%, industry 3.51%, commerce 19.60%, transport and communication 5.17%, service 18.27%, construction 1.99%, religious service 0.21%, rent and remittance 0.78% and others 9.35%. According to the current agriculture census, total holdings of the district is 503 thousand of which 41.31% holding are farms those produce varieties of crops, namely, local and HYV paddy, wheat, jute, vegetables, spices, pulses, oil-seeds, sugarcane and others. Paddy, jute, sesame, betel nut, and vegetables are the main crops grown here. Various fruits like Mango, Banana, Jackfruit, Guava, Coconut, Betel nut etc. are also grown here. Fish of different varieties abound in the district. Varieties of fishes are caught from rivers, tributaries, channels and creeks and even from paddy field during the rainy season. Beside crops, livestock and fishery are main source of household income. There are many prawn production centers here. For the huge contribution to the economy, prawns are also called white gold. Main Export Items include paddy, rice, jute, sesame, betel nut, date sugar, mango, jackfruit and prawn.

North of the Mongla port, Khulna has a variety of light and heavy industries. Manufacturing industries include Jute mill, match factory, salt factories, shipyard, steel mill, cable mill, rice mill, flour mill, ice factory, press mill, saw mill etc. Cottage industries include Handloom, bamboo work, goldsmith, potteries, carpenter, tailoring. There are also some other sectors, namely, chemicals, fish and seafood packaging, food processing, sugar milling and power generation. The KCCI regulates commerce through it’s Licensed Measurers’ Department (LMD) and certification, attestation and publicity departments of this area. The region has an export processing zone, which has attracted foreign investment. The city is home to branch offices of a number of national companies, including M. M. Ispahani Ltd., Beximco, James Finlay Bangladesh, Summit Power and the Abul Khair Group. The largest companies based in the city include Khulna Shipyard, Bangladesh Cable Shilpa Ltd., Bangladesh Oxygen, Platinum Jubilee Mills, Star Jute Mills and the Khulna Oxygen Company.

Khulna was part of the ancient kingdoms of Banga or Samatat. It became part of the Sen Dynasty during the 12th century and formed part of the Bagri division of Bengal. The region’s previous name was Jalalabad. During the 14th century, Shamsuddin Firoz Shah was the first Muslim ruler to arrive in the city. Gradually the number of muslim settlements increased and many mosques and shrines were established within a short time. A Muslim saint, Khan Jahan Ali came to this district to preach Islam about 600 years ago. He established settlements in the Sundarnbans area and established his control over the region having his seat in Bagerhat. After his death, the city again became part of the Sultanate. In the 16th century, Vikramaditya obtained a grant in southern Bengal including Khulna and established a sovereign kingdom with its capital at Iswaripur. He was succeeded by his son, Pratapaditya, who gained preeminence over the Baro Bhuiyans and controlled southern Bengal.

Khulna remained under the rule of autonomous nawabs of Bengal until 1793, when the British East India Company took control of the city. The city became part of Jessore District in 1842 and became a separate district in 1882. Khulna Municipality was declared in 1884 and it was up graded to a Municipal Corporation on in 1984. Mahatma Gandhi visited Khalishpur of the district to invigorate Swadeshi Movement. During the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971, Pakistani Army created 314th ad hoc brigade to hold on to Khulna. The freedom fighters in Khulna were part of sector 8 under the command of Major Abu Osman Chowdhury and later, under Major Mohammad Abdul Monjur. In 16 December 1971, Independent Bangladesh was established but Khulna was still under the control of Pakistani Army. Next on 17 December, as the Pakistani Army surrendered in the Circuit House ground, Khulna finally got her Independence. There are 3 mass killing sites, 5 memorial monuments and a memorial sculpture named Bir Bangali in Khulna.

Khulna is a port on the rivers Rupsha and Bhairab. Being a hub of Bangladeshi industry, it hosts many national companies. Khulna is served by Mongla Port, the second-largest seaport in the country and is one of the two principal naval-command centres of the Bangladesh Navy. The navy base BNS Titumir is in the city. Khulna is considered as the gateway to the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest and home of the Royal Bengal Tigers. It is declared as a UNESCO World Heritage. Rabindra Complex is in the village of Dakkhindihi, 19 km (12 mi) from Khulna. It is the home of Beni Madhab Roy Chowdhury, father-in law of Rabindranath Tagore. The museum has been renovated and is administered by the Department of Archeology of Bangladesh. The Khulna Divisional Museum is also established by the Department of Archeology of Bangladesh.

Cricket and football are the two most popular sports in Khulna. Khulna’s Bangladesh Premier League Khulna Titans were formerly known as the Khulna Royal Bengals. The Khulna Abahani Club played in Bangladesh Football Premier League for several seasons before its relegation in the 2008-09 Bangladesh Premier League. There is an international sports venue named Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium which hosted many Test Cricket, One Day International and T20 International matches. It became Bangladesh’s seventh test-cricket venue on 21 November 2012. It has also hosted several Bangladesh Premier League matches. Khulna District Stadium hosts other domestic sports and cultural events.

The district is predominately Muslims occupying 76.86% of the population. Hindus form 22.72%, Buddhists 0.66%, Christians 0.01% and remaining 0.04% practice other religions. There are 2047 mosques, 749 eid gah, 966 temples, 32 church, 4 tombs, 3 places of pilgrimage and 1 monastery in the district.

At a glance of Khulna
01 Area 4,389.11 sq. km

(1,694.64 sq. mi)

02 Population 2,318,527
03 Founding Year 1882
03 Density 530/km2
04 Literacy Rate 60.10%
05 Seats in the Parliament 6
06 Postcode 9000
07 Sector in Liberation War 8

Upazilas (9)

  • Rupsha
  • Koyra
  • Batiaghata
  • Terkhada
  • Dakop
  • Pikegacha
  • Dumuria
  • Fultala
  • Dighaliya

Main Rivers

Rupsha, Bhairab, Shibsa, Pasur,  Arpangachhia, Vadra, Sholmari and Shutarkhali

Main Newspapers

Daily Purbanchal, Daily Probaho, Daily Anirban, Daily Tatthya and Daily Rajpather Dabi

Notable places

  • Sundarbans
  • Rabindra Complex
  • Residence of P.C. Roy
  • Residence of Krishnachandra Majumdar
  • Tomb of Bir Shrestha Ruhul Amin
  • Gallamari
  • Chuknagar Memorial Monument
  • The Khulna Divisional Museum
  • Khulna Shipyard
  • Khulna District Stadium
  • Khulna Circuit House
  • Khulna District Court
  • Khulna Hadis Park
  • Central Jail
  • Khan Jahan Ali Bridge
  • Khulna Hardboard Mill
  • Khulna Paper Mill
  • Khalishpur Wonderland Shishu Park
  • Jahanabad Cantonment Zoo

Highlighted Personalities

  • Bir Shrestha Ruhul Amin
  • Krishnachandra Majumdar
  • Kazi Imdadul Haq
  • Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy
  • Shachindranath Sengupta
  • Juthika Roy
  • Manoranjan Sarkar
  • Prafulla Chandra Sen
  • Mashiur Rahman
  • Begum Munnujan Sufiyan
  • Talukdar Abdul Khalek
  • Abdur Razzak
  • Ainul Nishat
  • Abdus Salam Murshedi
  • Hasan Hafizur Rahman

Written & Edited by Sadia Siddika Zitu


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