Interior, ‘Sixty Dome’ Mosque, Bagerhat


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Natore rajbari

Lalbag Fort, Dhaka

Buddhist Temple, Ramu

Christian cemetary, Srimangal

Merchant’s mansion, Panam City

Belliati Place,Manikganj

Why do we do this?

It is, of course, as young and proud Bangladeshis, rather frustrating to have revealed to us, especially in the sites we visit, a new, and visible and tangible history of which so many of us have been unaware. In that, it seems much of the world is with us.

However, developing our own appreciation, we began to recognise the interest of others, and the opportunities that suggested for that rare thing in Bangladesh; a potential to create, not only a, much needed, sustainable employment for ourselves, but also, if successful, for many like us.

With advice and support from such as our Consultant, who, in 2007 assisted the development of HRH Prince of Wales Trust, Youth Business International, in Bangladesh as Bangladesh Youth Enterprise Advice and Helpcentre (BYeah!), amongst others, we decided to take our own initiative with a focus on what remains one of the neglected opportunities for unemployed, underemployed and disadvantaged younger people in Bangladesh.

Recognising that much of our tangible, and most fascinating heritage lies, not in the rapidly developing super cities like Dhaka, but rather, across the entire nation, we decided that we might, not only create much needed employment, but also play a part in the much needed combatting of urban drift of young people from the countryside. And so, the embryo of our Partnership, being duly registered under the law of the land as such.

We now appreciate that, even earlier...much earlier!... than the attempt by Alexander the Great to cross northern India, almost certainly with an eye to the loot he anticipated in what was already the well established centre of international trade, around, and through the delta of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers, the heartlands of modern Bangladesh, great faith groups began to emerge.

The great Hindu religion, evolving from the Animism and Shamanism, both of which still flourish in small corners of this nation of religious diversity. Polydeism, even polytheism appear to lie at the foundation of the evolution that inspired, first, Jain faith, and then the Buddhist, who both have their roots hereabouts. And, no doubt, both cultural exchanges with traders, as well as developing wealth, and such as the development of one of the world's earliest language forms, Sanskrit, formed the fertile ground for such developments.

There is a great deal of visible, tangible, archaeological, documentary, circumstantial and empirical evidence to support the view that these lands of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers was amongst the earliest of the world's centres of social, cutural and economic development. It is probably no coincidence that, more recently, it was these lands, too, that provided the fertile ground for the development, from earliest times, not only the 3rd to 5th century, 'Golden Age of India', the Gupta Empire, but via the great, four century Pala, Buddhist Empire, the age of the Sukltanate and the 'Slave Rulers', through the great Mughal period, to the 'Honourable East India Company', and, finally, The Raj.

It was, however, nature that provided, not only the deltaic location, the fertility of the lands, and climate for the development of such natural resources as rice, cotton and the essentials for silk production, but also the copious supplies of Saltpetre, the essential ingredient of gunpowder, that supported the Mughal, 'Gunpowder Empire', and almost certainly brought European nations to its doorstep. Equally certainly, it provided, arguably, the foundations of the British Empire, the last, and greatest, of the famous, 'Gunpowder Empires', built upon innovation and invention, and upon which the foundations of the Global economy of today was built!

As we have been able, ourselves, and then with guests, to explore the tangible remains of these great empires and kingdoms, we want, very much, to share, not only those remains, but also the implications, worldwide, of this heritage.

Sites in Bangladesh link us, at the most recent, with Stone Age inhabitants; and in neighbouring Nepal and Myanmar, traces of human occupation over 50,000 years ago reveal the potential for future discovery beneath our metres deep alluvial soils.

From those origins have grown great empires and kingdoms. From the early Maghada Kingdom, through the Mauryan Empire, evolved early traces of our great cultural history. The third Mauryan Emperor, Ashoka, is said to have been an early convert to Buddhism; it is reported that, surveying the carnage of a great victory of conquest, he said 'If this is victory, I'd rather have defeat'.

Through the, 'Golden Age of India', the Gupta Empire, believed to have its foundations in the west of today's Bangladesh, and the great, Buddhist, 'Pala' Empire,also with roots in today's Bangladesh, emerged successor beliefs to the great Hindu tradition, Jain and Bhuddist..

Then came the first successful invaders, known as the Sultanate, sometimes known as 'The Slave Rulers', almost certainly fleeing the Mongol hordes as they swept across Central Asia. After them, the Mongol descendants, the Mughals, and then, as the Europeans congregated around the Ganges delta, with their eye on muslins, silks, fragrances, spices, diamonds, and, maybe above all, the raw material for gunpowder-saltpetre, regime after regime have left their mark, tangibly, historically, socially, fact, a unique cultural heritage.

Who would not wish to share this with others? And, as international tourism swirls around our neighbours, we have created Bangladesh Cultural Travel Partnership as a Social Enterprise to empower ourselves and others, to share our traditions, our culture, our invironment. And to do it sustainbly, socially, environmentally, and economically.

Believing, as we do, that, in the end, the only sustainable development of 'Less Developed Countries' derives from self help, and the sustainablity of private enterprise, we aim to offer just, simply, that.

New H2