Journy through Bangldesh
300 Year Old Historical Structure
Among the many historical spots of the country's north-eastern region, the Shahi Eidgah in Sylhet has possessed for ages a significant importance to the people of different religious beliefs. The Eidgah (Ground where Eid prayers are offered) is located on a hillock surrounded by enchanting natural beauty. A habitat has developed gradually around it during the last few decades. The neighbouring areas also have come to be known by the name-Shahi Eidgah. Located on the eastern corner of the city of the great Muslim saint Hajrat Shahjalal (RA), the over 300 years old structures of the Eidgah attract visitors from home and abroad. However, some parts of the Eidgah have been renovated during the recent years keeping the historic things intact.
Historians say that the renowned Mughal Foujder, Farhad Khan had built the attractive and eye catching structures of the Eidgah during the late eighties of the eighteenth century. Farhad Khan was appointed a Foujder for Sylhet region during the 1770s when Aurangajeb was in power in Delhi. Soon after Farhad Khan took over as a Foujder, he started building a number of establishments. Even today, some of these keep him remembered. In the city's Mirabazar-Shibganj road there is a small bridge called 'Farhad Khaner pul'. However, this had also been rebuilt. Farhad Khan had constructed a number of bridges, mosques and roads in Sylhet. He built the Shahi Eidgah, the biggest and the most wonderful Eidgah of Bangladesh, in the late eighties of the 18th century.
To the North of the Eidgah, there are a few forest officers' houses on the green hillock. To the South are some dwelling houses while to the East are a mosque and shrine of the Muslim saint, Hajarat Shahmir. Planned tree plantations are there on the western side of the Eidgah.
In all the 4 sides, there are green hillocks. However, it is quite a normal scene for the Sylhet city, although the face of nature is bing changed constantly by man every day.
The attractive Eidgah has 3 main gates on its 3 sides, along the roads. Two years ago, these were renovated and reshaped at a cost of 39 lakh taka by a local businessman called named Taru Miah and his children. There are 7 more gates of smaller sizes for entering into the place of worship. Sylhet Zila Parishad also did some civil works for the construction of the Eidgah maidan and the steps on four sides of the pond located inside the Eidgah. The pond has been there from the beginning. The Eidgah can accommodate about one lakh people for offering the Eid prayers. However, more than a lakh muslims come to this Eidgah every year to say their prayers. A big crowd of devotees spill over the main Eidgah to the adjacent roads and hillocks.
There are 16 high stairs, now covered by red bricks to reach the main floor of the Eidgah which is surrounded by a wall that has fifteen 'Ggumbujes' (Domes). There was a time when every year on the10th of Muharram, thousands of people used to gather here for joining lathi khela (indigenous sport with sticks) in remembrance of the tragedy of the Muharram. It was an attractive and very important event of the year for the common people of those days.
In the month of Muharram of 1782, two religious leaders, Syed Mohammad Hadi and his brother Syed Mohammad Mahdi along with their followers revolted against the British from this ground. Robert Lindsay, the then British Collector of Sylhet shot these brothers dead to foil the revolt against the British. This was even before the great revolt by Titumir. On that fated day in 1782, Syed Hadi and Syed Mahdi along with their followers gathered there with a Muharram procession. They planned to attack the British all on a sudden. But, things went wrong as the collector through his spies got the message ahead of the day. Lindsay reached the field along with a contingent and asked the people to surrender their arms. But the two brothers and the follows declined and revolted. At one stage of the long fight, Syed Hadi was shot dead by Lindsay. Hadi's brother-Mahdi also embraced martyrdom along with some others after a long fight. Robert Lindsay, who had served for about 12 years in Sylhet, also narrated the sad incident in his memoirs that he wrote on his return to England.
Politicians like Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Moulana Mohammad Ali, Hossain Shahid Sohrawardi, Sher E Bangla and many others from the Sub-Continent had visited the place and addressed a number of political meetings during the pre partition period. Further more, according to the local people, the great Imam of Kaba Sharif also addressed a gathering here years ago.
The Eidgah has become a place for congregation of huge people for spreading the message of peace and humanity.
(R) thedailystar.net 2006