Barisal is one of the eight administrative divisions of Bangladesh. Located at the central part of south of the country, it has a population of 8,325,666 on an area of 13,644.85 square kilometers. It is bounded by Khulna Division on the west, Chittagong Division on the east, the Bay of Bengal on the south and the capital Dhaka on the north. It is criss-crossed by a number of rivers and that’s why it is named ‘Dhan-Nodi-Khal, Ei tine Borishal’ that means rice, river and canal built Barisal. Barisal division holds the highest literacy rates in the country. There are many popular, traditional and large educational institutions are located in Barisal.
According to Regulation 7, to establish Magistracy in Bakerganj in 1797, Bakerganj district was established with Bakla-Chandradvipa. The district was named after the influential Zamindar Aga Bakr Khan. On 1 May 1801, Sir John Shore, shifted the headquarters of this district, to Barisal city. It was later known as Barisal. After establishing Dhaka Division in 1829, this district was included in the Dhaka Division. This is one of the four collectibles that comprise Dhaka Division or commissionership. It was located to the east of Kolkata when the area of the district was 4,066 square miles which was present throughout Madaripur, Barisal, Jhalakathi, Pirojpur, Barguna, Patuakhali and Bhola districts.The Bay of Bengal is on the south and the MeghnaRiver its estuary. The location of this district lies on the lower plains of the Ganges or the Padma along with other rivers Brahmaputra and Meghna, which is composed of alluvial plains.
Barisal was a semi-independent area in the Mughal period and later it fell under the Bengal Nawabs, the last being Raja RamranjanChakravarty and to the British raj then till the independence from Pakistan and finally Bangladesh.The medieval city of Barisal was known as Bacola in Europe. Ralph Fitch, the first ever Englishman a businessman, known to have visited Bengal in the mid-1580s, who comprehended Barisal in his journal as, “From Chatigan in Bengal, I came to Bacola. His country is very great and fruitful, and hath store of rice, much cotton cloth, and cloth of silk. The houses are very fair and high built, the streets large, and people naked, except a little cloth about their waist. The women wear a great store of silver hoops about their necks and arms, and their legs are ringed with silver and copper, and rings made from elephants’ teeth.”The central city and the administrative zone of the Division is the Barisal city.Barisal has one of the biggest river ports in Bangladesh. The city has 0.38 million people and a divisional headquarters, medical college, cadet college, some pharmaceutical industries, textile industries. The city is sometimes called the “Venice of Bengal”.Barisal was called the “Granary of Bengal” for its rich production. It is still an important area for rice production. Since the ancient times, Barisal was known as the center for hides, rice, dried beans, dried peas, lentils, chickpeas, and other pulses for Bengal.
Barisal division has the highest literacy rate in Bangladesh. Most of the people of the division are educated and serving the nation in many sectors from government to private sectors. There are many old educational institutions in Barisal and some most popular of them are University of Barisal Sher e Bangla Medical College, Brojomohun College, Government Syed Hatem Ali College, Barisal Government Women’s College, Amrita LalDey College, Barisal Cadet College, ShaheedAbdurRabSerniabat Textile Engineering College, Barisal Engineering College, Barisal Govt. Polytechnic Institute, Barisal Zilla School. Govt. Brojomohan College is the oldest institution of higher education in the city, founded in 1889. There is a government medical college Sher e Bangla Medical College (SBMC), university of Barisal. Besides these there are three teacher training colleges, a Government Polytechnic institute, two technical institutes, and a homeopathic college.
Barisal has some historical landmarks and places of visiting interest. There is a lake name Durgasagarwith an area of about 2,500 hectare, is the largest pond of southern Bangladesh. It is located at Madhabpasa village, about 11 km away from Barisal town. According to a desire mother of Raja Joynarayan, Rani Durgavati thedighi was dug in 1780. Other historical architectures are including Sharkal Fort, Girja Mahalla, BangabondhuUddyan, GuthiaBaitulAmanJameMashjid Complex, Kali Bari of Mukunda Das, Housing Estate JameMosjid, Charkella and others.
There are many prominent personalities were born in Barisal like A. K. FazlulHuq, Bengali nationalist, politician, Altaf Mahmud Bengali film song composer, NachiketaChakraborty, an Indian Bengali singer-songwriter and composer, Rashed Khan Menon, Politician, Jibanananda Das, Bengali poet, Sufia Kamal, poet and many others. Bollywood popular actor MithunChakraborty was born in Barisal.