Nilphamari has good potential for tourism

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Could boost national economy through appropriate initiatives, locals say

The remains of a Buddhist temple pictured above are just one of the many tourist attractions available in Nilphamari, which could become a hotspot for travelers if the right initiatives are taken. The photo was taken recently in the village of Gar Dharmapal in the district. Photo: Star

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The remains of a Buddhist temple pictured above are just one of the many tourist attractions available in Nilphamari, which could become a hotspot for travelers if the right initiatives are taken. The photo was taken recently in the village of Gar Dharmapal in the district. Photo: Star

Tourism in Rangpur’s Nilphamari could be a boon to the national economy as the district has glorious historical and natural sites to see, some related to the liberation war.

Among the main sights of Nilphamari, one is the 12th century Buddhist temple located in the village of Gar Dharmapal in the upazila of Jaldhaka in the district.

The Buddhist temple with a circumbinary passage, perimeter walls and other facilities is said to have been built in the 12th century during the time of Pala. The site was unearthed by the Department of Archeology (DOA) in 2016.

According to the well-known book on antiquarians, “Bangladesher Protnosampad”, written by Abul Kalam Md Zakaria: The second ruler of the Pala Empire – Dharma Pala (son of King Harsha Dev of the Kamrup Empire) – moved the capital to the site 900 years ago. The region is named after Gar Dharmapal in his honor.

In addition, around 42 domed mosques were built in Satiesher danga next to the village of Paitkapara in the same upazila during the Sultani period. These were also discovered by DOA almost at the same time and could be another attraction for tourists.

DOA authorities have re-buried the two sites maintaining due process to go through a formal process that should be completed immediately to open them to visitors, residents said.

The historic Nil Kuthi in the village of Notkhana in Sadar upazila built by English indigo traders in British times may also be a good tourist spot as the DOA proposed it as a reserved archaeological site.

Published by Bangla Academy, the book “Nilphamarir Itihas” gives a brief description of the Nil Kuthi as a brick structure that testifies to the cruelty and oppression of foreign indigo traders who forced local farmers to cultivate indigo instead of paddy.

“Even the name Nilphamari is believed to be derived from two words – Nile and Farm – in line with the cultivation of indigo,” said Zahangir Alam Sarker, author of the book.

However, these places are in need of care and the authorities could take simple measures in this regard to meet the people’s thirst for entertainment.

Shafiqul Alam Dablu Shah, former member of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Nilphamari, said the Chilahati-Holdibari rail link between Bangladesh and India was recently inaugurated in the district, prompting the enthusiasm of locals about the possibility of visiting the near Indian tourist spot of Darjeeling in the future.

This touring habit may arouse in them an interest in visiting places in their own country and the authorities should therefore take this opportunity to develop local tourist sites.

“In addition, Indian travelers can also visit these sites via the new rail link,” he added.

Every year, thousands of visitors come to see the giant Teesta Dam and organize picnics in the surrounding forest.

In the absence of government initiatives, local entrepreneurs decorate the banks of the river with colorful fabrics and umbrellas and also organize luxury boat rides to its point of entry from India to the village of Kaliganj to Dimla upazila.

But the effort is insufficient and not recommended by the Water Development Board (WDB).

However, Ashfauddoula, an executive engineer of the WDB in the Dalia division of the Nilphamari district, said a team of architects had visited the area to develop a project to turn it into a tourist spot.

Ever since flocks of migrating birds from distant Sybaria arrived at Nilsagor, a vast body of water built by King Virat in ancient times in the village of Dhoba Danga in Sadar Upazila, it has been declared a bird sanctuary.

This site is a good place to entertain tourists as the song of birds and their swimming in the water amazes people.

The Golahat Collective Cemetery in the upazila of Saidpur could also be a tourist spot for liberation war history buffs, as more than 400 people were victims of the 1971 genocide by the Pakistani army.

People are also very drawn to the Saidpur Railway Workshop, which is the largest of its kind in Bangladesh, and the Nilphamari Museum.

When contacted, Nahida Sultana, DOA deputy director for Rangpur and Rajshahi, said the archaeological sites of Nilphamari were of great importance and therefore work was underway to make them more attractive before opening them to visitors.

“We have a plan to boost tourism in the Rangpur division, including Nilphamari, and such work is underway at Peerganj upazila of the division,” said Mahamud Kabir, general manager of Bangladesh Parjoton Corporation.


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