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What you need to know about Rajshahi

Rajshahi is a metropolitan city in Bangladesh and a major urban, commercial and educational centre of Bangladesh. It is the administrative seat of both Rajshahi Division and Rajshahi District. Located on the north bank of the Padma River, near the Bangladesh-India border, the city has a population of over 763,952 residents. The city is surrounded by the satellite towns of Nowhata and Katakhali, which together build an urban agglomeration of about 1 million population.

Modern Rajshahi lies in the ancient region of Pundravardhana. The foundation of the city dates to 1634, according to epigraphic records at the mausoleum of Sufi saint Shah Makhdum. The area hosted a Dutch settlement in the 18th century. The Rajshahi municipality was constituted during the British Raj in 1876. It was a divisional capital of the Bengal Presidency.

Rajshahi is an important administrative, educational, cultural and business centre in Bangladesh today. It is a historic center of silk production. Varendra Research Museum, the oldest of its kind in Bangladesh, is located in the city. The city is home to many renowned educational institutions of Bangladesh. The head office of Rajshahi Agricultural Development Bank and Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA) is situated in the city. Rajshahi is served by the Shah Makhdum Airport.

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Geography

Geographically Rajshahi is situated within Barind Tract, 23 m (75 ft) above sea level, and lies at 24°22′26″N 88°36′04″E. The city is located on the alluvial planes of the Padma river, which runs through southern side of the city. It is bounded on the east, north and west by Paba Upazila (subdivision of a district) of the district.

Climate

Under Köppen climate classification, Rajshahi has a tropical wet and dry climate. The climate of Rajshahi is generally marked with monsoons, high temperature, considerable humidity and moderate rainfall. The hot season commences early in March and continues till the middle of July. The maximum mean temperature observed is about 32 to 36 °C (90 to 97 °F) during the months of April, May, June and July and the minimum temperature recorded in January is about 7 to 16 °C (45 to 61 °F). The highest rainfall is observed during the months of monsoon. The annual rainfall in the district is about 1,448 millimetres (57.0 in).

Economy

Apart from the usual agricultural products of Bangladesh, such as rice, wheat, potatoes and lentils, Rajshahi and its neighbouring regions are especially suited from various crops such as mangoes, litchis, sugarcane, tomatoes, and watermelons. In spite of being an important city and located on a riverbank, industrial development in Rajshahi has not taken place to any great extent. There is an industrial park in Rajshahi, which is now mainly home to industries producing products of the famous Rajshahi silk. The head office of the regulatory board for sericulture, Bangladesh Sericulture Development Board, is based in the city. Rajshahi is also home to the number of jute, textile and sugar mills, pharmaceutical and mango based industries. Two 50 MW power plants have been built at Katakhali to meet the growing electricity demand of the city.

Bangladesh Bank, the central bank of Bangladesh, has a regional office in the city. Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank, a nationalised bank with its head office at Rajshahi, is working in a mission to help to develop the agriculture sector of Rajshahi and Rangpur division. Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA), a government organization for the integrated development of Rajshahi and Rangpur division, has its head office in the city. The head office of the Western Zone of Bangladesh Railway is located in this city.

Healthcare

The city has many governments, private and NGO run hospitals. Rajshahi Medical College Hospital (RMCH) is a tertiary level public hospital with a teaching facility in graduate and postgraduate medical education. There is also a children’s hospital, one chest hospital, a district level government hospital and a Christian missionary hospital within the city area. There are two private medical college hospitals, and another two are under construction in the city.

Transport

Road

Rajshahi is connected to most other parts of the country via the N6 national highway. There are two intercity bus terminals in the city. It takes about 5 to 6 hours by road to reach the capital city Dhaka. A number of bus services, including air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned buses, are available to and from Dhaka. Bus services to other major cities and districts headquarter are also available from Rajshahi.

Railway

Three inter-city train services are operated by Bangladesh Railway, named Silk City Express, Padma Express and Dhumketu Express between Dhaka and Rajshahi regularly. There are other inter-city, mail and local trains operated from here to connect Khulna and other regions of the country.

Air

The city is served by Shah Makhdum Airport, named after the Islamic preacher Shah Makhdum Rupos, situated at Nowhata, a commuter town of the city. Biman Bangladesh Airlines, Novoair, and US-Bangla Airlines operate domestic flights to and from Dhaka.

Public transport

Cycle rickshaws and auto rickshaws are the main mode of transport within the city and metro area. Once there were plenty of Tomtom (horse driven cart) in the city, which are still found but are rare. There are bus and minibus services in a limited number of routes to the suburban areas of the city. Plenty of rental car agencies operate within the city and metro area, where sedans, SUVs, and micro-buses are available to hire on an hourly or daily basis.