Bangladesh became the 107th country / autonomous region I visited and was part of a nature trip to various national parks in India, Bangladesh and Nepal. During a third of the trip I participated in an arranged trip and for almost a week I stayed in Nepal on my own
The journey began in the Indian capital New Delhi where I visited Old Delhi, the old city with its incredible folk life, the unique fortress Red Fort, the country’s largest mosque Jama Masjid and Raj Ghat where memorials were erected over famous politicians like Mahatma Ghandi and Indira Ghandi. The trip then continued to the city of Bharatphur where I visited Keoladeo Ghana National Park, one of the world’s best bird sanctuaries and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Agra, I visited the world heritage site Taj Mahal and Red Fort. In Bandhavgarh National Park, I did several jeep safaris to see the endangered Bengal tiger. In the holy city of Varanasi, one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, I experienced pilgrimage on the holy river Ganges and saw the cremation bonfire burning.
In Bangladesh, I made a four-day boat trip in the world’s largest mangrove forest Sundarbans, on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and made a visit to the country’s capital Dhaka where I experienced a fantastic boat trip at dawn and then I visited the bustling Old Dhaka with sights such as the fort Lalbhag, the Armenian Church and the Hindu Dhakeswari Temple built in the 1000s.
In Nepal, my base was in two rounds the ancient city of Bhaktapur, whose Durbar Square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I also visited the ancient Changu Narayan Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The visit to Chitwan National Park, also on the UNESCO World Heritage List, was a great experience with boat and jeep tours as well as encounters with rhinos, crocodiles, an angry lip bear, deer and many birds. With the capital Kathmandu as a base, I visited the World Heritage Swayumbhunath (Temple of the Apt), the stupa of Boudanath, Pashuputinath which is the holiest temple of the Hindus in Nepal and Durbar Square with its ancient temples. I also managed to see Kumari, the living Goddess, in Kathmandu.
This was a trip full of fantastic nature and cultural experiences, but also with a lot of hassle, as always when buying a trip from the tour operator Read and Travel; with unqualified guides who did not follow the itinerary (and thus I got another trip that deviated from the itinerary than the one I paid for), poor hotels with low standard and without heating (in Nepal 70 people froze to death during my stay in the country) and also suffered the group of an 18-hour train delay. We spent these hours in an icy waiting hall sitting on a freezing stone floor or on icy stone and iron benches while information about train departures was shouted out loudly. The organizer’s guide did not have the ability to help us to a more tolerable wait… .. In Chitwan we had to pay 60% higher price for a boat and jeep tour than what was the usual fare,
It was a long time ago that I froze as much as on this trip, which could have been largely avoided if the tour operator Läs och Res had chosen hotels with a higher standard where the rooms were heated and there was always access to hot water in the showers.
“You get what you pay for” is a saying that does not happen very often when you travel with Read and Travel! Under the heading “News” you can read about my reflections on buying travel from this tour operator. I have made my last journey with Read and Travel!
Bangladesh history in brief
Bengal, what we today call Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, originated as a concept as early as around 1000 BC. The region has formed a northeastern part of the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and British empires in South Asia.
about 320 – 180 BC
According to areacodesexplorer, Bengal was part of the Maurya Empire, which also included present-day India and Pakistan. During this time, Buddhist teachings began to spread in the area
750 – 1150 AD
During the Paladin Dynasty, Buddhism gained a foothold throughout Bengal. Thereafter, the Hindu dynasty ruled
Turkish-born Muslims conquered the area
The region was integrated with the Mughal Empire, which at that time already covered virtually the whole of India. Bengal was the empire’s richest province and served as a granary and source of livelihood for the great mogul’s army. Dhaka became one of South Asia’s textile centers, known for its muslin and silk production. Agriculture and trade flourished. During the Mughal period, Islam gradually became the dominant religion in Bengal
17th and 18th centuries
During the decline of the Mughal Empire, the British became increasingly established in the area. The British East India Company traded with West Bengal Calcutta (Kolkata) as a starting point
The British East India Company took control of Bengal by defeating the Mughal ruler’s army at the Battle of Plassey
What we today call Bangladesh, Pakistan and India became a British crown colony after an Indian uprising. Bengal became the largest province of British India
Under British rule, a Western-influenced and well-educated middle class was created, almost exclusively made up of Hindus, who fairly immediately came to dominate business, education and administration.
The well-educated middle class created under British rule, a nationalist movement emerged that founded the Indian National Congress, which led the Indian struggle for freedom.
1905 – 1911
Bengal was divided into a western province with a Hindu majority and an eastern part that was predominantly Muslim. During this period, the All-Indian Muslim League was formed in Dhaka, a party whose goal was to defend the interests of Muslims.
The idea of its own Muslim state, Pakistan, was born among the Muslim nationalists
Upon independence from the British, the two countries India and Pakistan were formed, mainly according to religious guidelines. The richest and most developed part of Bengal, with the port city of Calcutta (Kolkata), went to India
From the very beginning, the government, military and industry came to be dominated by West Pakistan, which had fewer inhabitants but was larger in area. Dissatisfaction with developments in East Pakistan also increased due to Urdu being made a national language despite the fact that Bengali was the dominant language.
In the first free election, the East Pakistan Nationalist Party Awami Union won a clear victory in East Pakistan, giving a majority in the joint parliament. Party leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman demanded far-reaching self-determination for East Pakistan. However, the president refused to convene parliament, sparking mass protests in eastern Pakistan
In March, the army entered Dhaka to end the protests, after which pro-independence leaders led by the Awami League proclaimed the Free Republic of Bangladesh. This resulted in civil war, and about 10 million people fled to India
In December, India intervened in the conflict and within two weeks, West Pakistan was forced to capitulate, making Bangladesh independent. The Awami League, which had led the independence movement against the Pakistani army in the civil war, formed a government with party leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Mujib) as prime minister. The country was given a constitution stating that the nation was a secular democracy based on nationalism and socialism
In the country’s first election, the Awami League won big, but soon protests against corruption and widespread poverty grew. The country was hard hit by the war and there was no readiness to receive the millions of refugees who returned home after the civil war. In addition, the country was hit by floods and famine. The new nation soon found itself in a political and economic crisis and a state of emergency was introduced
In January, Bangladesh was transformed into a one-party state with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Mujib) as president
In August, Mujib and most of his family were murdered by a group of officers. Several coups followed and power later went to General Ziaur Rahman (Zia)
General Ziaur Rahman (Zia) was installed as president. Under his leadership, political parties were allowed again, including Islamist parties that had been banned since independence. General Zia also changed the constitution so that Islam became a foundation of the state
Bangladesh’s Nationalist Party (GDP), formed by General Zia, won the parliamentary elections
General Zia was murdered in connection with a coup attempt
The army chief Muhammad Ershad took power. He dissolved parliament and introduced emergency laws. Ershad later founded the Jatiya Party and tried to gain legitimacy through elections
In December, Muhammad Ershad resigned due to the chaos that prevailed in the country
In the February parliamentary elections, GDP barely won and formed a government with the support of the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami. Khaleda Zia, General Zia’s widow, was appointed Prime Minister
In May, Bangladesh was hit by a devastating cyclone, killing 140,000 people
All opposition parties boycotted the parliament
Parliamentary elections were held in February. After this, the chaos became so great that the re-elected GDP government resigned and new elections were announced
In the June election, the Awami League won, forming a government with the Jatiya Party. Sheikh Hasina Wajed was appointed Prime Minister. The new government continued with the same economic policy as the previous one, but the political situation in the country remained chaotic
GDP acted in opposition just as the Awami League did; through strikes, demonstrations and boycotts. Islamists and right-wing groups did something in common with GDP Conflicts between the police and various activist groups became common