History and Culture in Rajshahi

Located on the northern banks of the Padma River in western Bangladesh, Rajshahi is one of the country’s seven metropolitan cities and serves as the divisional headquarters of the Rajshahi Division. Established in 1700, the city has many been under the control of Rajas, Maharajas and Zamindars over the centuries, and has many interesting historical and cultural attractions for visitors to explore. Rajshahi is also renowned for the superb quality of its natural silk products, widely considered to be the best in Bangladesh.

The Varendra Research Museum is one of Rajshahi’s main attractions, offering visitors insight into the history and culture of the region. Cared for by the Rajshahi University, the Varendra Museum is believed to be the oldest museum in Bangladesh, having been established in East Bengal as far back as 1910. The museum’s exhibits include the personal collections of the Rajahs of Natore and Rajshahi. The six galleries of the museum include collections from the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilization, with ancient Arabic, Sanskrit and Persian scripts; Buddhist and Hindu stone sculptures; contemporary wood sculptures ; Persian Sanskrit and old Bengali inscriptions in stone; and items relating to the indigenous and tribal culture of the Rajshahi region.

The activity of silk farming, known as sericulture, involves raising silkworms for the production of silk. Research reveals that silk production started in China as far back as 5000 BCE, later spreading to other countries. The majority of Bangladeshi silk products are produced in Rajshahi, with three main types being available – eri silk, mulberry silk and tassar silk. Mulberry silk is considered to be of the highest quality, while eri silk is seen as the most humane. With the production of mulberry silk, the cocoon is placed in hot water with the silkworm pupae still inside, thereby killing it, while with eri silk, the cocoon is used after the adult has emerged.

Other places of interest in Rajshahi include the Shrine of Hazrat Shah Mokhdum; Borokuthi compound; Horagram bazar; and Shaheb Bazar which includes shopping malls, markets, business offices, banks, hotels, and schools. Around 23 km to the east of the city is the Puthia Temple Complex featuring ancient Hindu temples built by Hindu Zamindars Rajas of the Puthia Raj family. Laid out around a lake with stretches of law and borders of plants, the Puthia Temple Complex is a slice of history soaked in tranquility.