Explore the Habiganj District

The Habiganj District of Bangladesh has the Sunamganj District on its northern border with the Brahmanbaria and Kishoreganj Districts to the west. To the east lies the Tripura Province of India and the Maulvi Bazar District of Bangladesh, with the Balaganj Upazila of Sylhet to the north-east. Consisting predominantly of alluvial plains, with numerous lakes and a network of rivers and streams crisscrossing the land, Habiganj’s fertile earth is devoted to agriculture.

More than 90 percent of the residents of Habiganj District are Bengali, with the remainder being Bihari, Khasi, Manipuri (Meetei) and Tripuri people. The Beharis are believed to have a history going back three million years. Having traveled from the state of Bihari in Uttar Pradesh in northern India during the 19th century, their descendants have settled in Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh, as well as in far-off countries such as Trinidad and Tobago, Fiji, Mauritius and South Africa where they worked on sugar plantations. Many of the Beharis still maintain their own customs and speak their original native tongue.

Similarly the Khasis traveled from Meghalaya in north east India, with some settling in Bangladesh, mostly in the Sylhet region. The majority follow Christian religious practices, with some having added animistic elements to their rituals. The Manipuris, also referred to as the Meeteis or Meiteis, are from Manipur in India. They are able to trace their ancestry through written history right back to 33 AD. Groups of Manipuris settled in the Habiganj District of Bangladesh in the early to mid-1700s. The Tripuris originate from the Kingdom of Tripura located in east India and part of modern day Bangladesh which existed for more than 2,000 years prior to joining the Indian Union in the year 1949.

Along with the higher regions of Sylhet, Chittagong and the Madhupur tract, the Habiganj District features prominently in the prehistoric record of Bangladesh. Prehistoric tools such as hand axes, scrapers and cleavers have been recovered from the bed of the Balu stream, one of the many ephemeral streams in the area which only retains water for a short time after rain has fallen. Classified in two distinct groups – Pre-Neolithic and Neolithic – these artifacts are similar to those discovered in the Lalmai Hills and experts believe they may have come from nearby hills.

Habiganj is well known for its folk literature and culture, with many organizations promoting cultural and social activities. These include clubs, libraries, theater groups, women’s societies and literary societies. There are also more than 1,300 mosques and 176 temples, as well as two churches in the district. As a predominantly agricultural area, Habiganj produces and exports a wide range of products, with one of its main crops being the internationally enjoyed beverage, tea.