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Panchagarh District ( rajshahi division) extreme northern district of Bangladesh with an area of 1404.63 sq km is bounded on three sides by 288 km long Indian border, having Darjeeling district on the north, Jalpaiguri and Kuchbihar districts on the northeast, West Dinajpur and Purnea district on the west, dinajpur and thakurgaon districts on the south, nilphamari district on the east. Its soil is sandy, alluvial and bears close affinity with the soil of the old Himalayan basin. On the northern part of the district there exists underground layer of pebbles. Maximum temperature 30.2°C and minimum 10.1°C; annual total rainfall 2931 mm. Main rivers are Karatoya, Atrai, Tista, Mahananda, Tangon, Dahuk, Pathraj, Bhulli, Talma, Nagar, Chawai, Kurum, Versa, Tirnoi, Chilka.

Panchagarh (Town) Panchagarh municipality was established in 1985. It consists of 9 wards and 32 mahallas. The area of the town is 11.36 sq km. It has a population of 38550; male 51.22%, female 48.78%; density of population is 3393 per sq km. The literacy rate among the town people is 52.77%.

Administration Panchagarh was a thana under Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal during the British rule. It was under Dinajpur district at the time of the partition of 1947. It was turned into a subdivision in 1980 consisting of Panchagarh, Boda, Debiganj, Atwari and Tentulia thanas. Panchagarh was elevated to a district in 1984. It consists of five upazilas one municipality, 9 wards, 32 mahallas, 43 union parishads and 850 villages. The upazilas are panchagarh sadar , boda , debiganj , atwari and tentulia .

Archaeological heritage The existence of fifteen garhs (fortifications) has hitherto been traced of which the most noted are Bhitar Garh, Hosain Garh, Mir Garh, Rajan Garh and Deven Garh. Panchagarh is named after these five garhs . Archaeological relics include Nayani Burz (bastion), remains of Atwari zamindar-bari and that of katchari-bari of Raniganj Devottvar Estate and the temple therein, Mirzapur Shahi Mosque, Tomb of Bara Awliya, tomb of Arif Shah, Maharaja Dighi (pond) at Bhitargarh, Maidan Dighi, Mughali killah (fort) at Chandan-bari, Vadeswari temple and Boda temple.

Historical events Sannyasi and Fakir movements flourished during 1763-1800. Many of the rebel sannyasis were executed at a place named Sannyasi-kata near Bangla-bandha. Tebhaga movement originated from this district (1946).

Marks of the War of Liberation Mass killing site in the char (pasture) area on the eastern bank of the Karatoya adjacent to the old Dakbungalow in Panchagarh town; mass grave on the bank of the Punna-dighi near Mirzapur and at Dangi in Atwari thana; a few graves of the martyrs at village Bamanpara in Bhajanpur; Shaheed Faruq Ahmad memorial monument at Dhakka-mara in Panchagarh town.

Population 829374; male 50.83%, female 49.17%; Muslim 81.79%, Hindu 17.64%, Christian 0.24%, ethnic group 0.21%, others 0.12%; ethnic nationals: 138 Santal, 45 Uria and 155 other families.

Religious institutions Mosque 997, temple 147, church 12.

Literacy and educational institutions Average literacy 30.6%; male 39.8%, female 20.8%. Educational institutions: college (government) 2, (non-government) 18, collegiate school and college 3, secondary school (government) 4, secondary school (non-government) 229, madrasa 58, primary school (government) 310, primary school (non-government) 283.

Newspapers and periodicals Panchagarh Barta (1996, now extinct).

Cultural organisations Club 131, public library 4, literary society 1, shilpakala academy 1, women's association 1, cinema hall 8.

Main occupations Agriculture 51.33%, agricultural labourer 26.88%, wage labourer 3.5%, service 4.03%, others 7.87%.

Land use Cultivable land 115232 hectares, fallow land 1035 hectares, forest area 1252 hectares.

Land control Among the peasants, 33% are landless, 43% small peasant, 20% intermediate, 4% rich.

Value of land The market value of the first grade arable land is Tk 2500 per 0.01 hectare.

Main crops Paddy, jute, wheat, potato, sugarcane.

Extinct and nearly extinct crops Barley, aus paddy, kaun .

Main fruits Mango, jackfruit, litchi, banana, black berry, papaya, guava, coconut and betel nut.

Dairy, fishery and poultry Livestock 54, poultry 105.

Communication facilities Roads: pucca 305 km, mud road 2499 km; railway 11 km.

Traditional transports Palanquin, bullock cart. These means of transport are extinct or nearly extinct.

Manufactories Rice mill, ice factory, garments factory, oil mill, saw mill.

Cottage industries Weaving 45, bamboo work 755, goldsmith 95, blacksmith 195, potteries, wood work 320, tailoring 305.

Hats, bazars and fairs Hats and bazars are 157.

Main exports Paddy, jute, potato, sugar, methylated spirit, electric pole, pebbles, sand and timber.

NGO activities Operationally important NGOs are brac , asa , Gonoshahajjo Sangstha, CARE, Swanirvar Bangladesh, grameen bank , DAHC, APCD, rdrs , Ganabima Prakalpa, Grameen Krishi Foundation, Bangladesh Paribar Parikalpana Samiti, Uttara Development Program, Manab Kalyan Parisad, Abas Sangstha, (local) Gram Unnayan Sangstha, Disha, ESDO, Drishtidan, Suchana, Anubhava, Daridra Durikaran Sangstha, Dadumari Gram Unnayan Sangstha.

Health centres Sadar hospital 1, upazila health complex 5, diabetic hospital 1, leprosy hospital 1, Islamic Foundation hospital 1, union clinic 28, upazila community clinic 9, charitable dispensary 8, family planning centre 37.

Enclaves (Chhitmahal) The Indian enclaves in the district are Puthimari, Daikhat, Shalbari, Kajaldighi, Natak-toka and Nazirganj in Boda upazila; Behula-danga, Balapara Kotbhajani and Dahla Khagrabari in Deviganj upazila; Garati and Singimari in sadar upazila. Total area of the enclaves is 4837 hectare; population 23963.
[Md Sherozzaman]

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