Hanbanq

It is not exactly clear where the town Ibn Battuta refers to in his Rihla as Hanbanq would be in the present day. The editor of the book The Travels of Ibn Battutah, Tim Mackintosh-Smith, believes that Hanbanq is near today’s town of Sylhet, Bangladesh. He notes that another scholar, Gibb, believed that the town was on the banks of the Meghna River in Bangladesh [1]. Since the region Ibn Battuta describes is unclear, the exact heritage of the town is difficult to establish. However, the history of Bangladesh is interesting and filled with periods of glory for the country. The Pala dynasty, which ruled from the 8th until 12th centuries, is regarded as one of the highest points for Bengali culture. Islam was brought to Bangladesh in the 13th century. The British took control of India, which included Bangladesh, and had control of the country until 1947. In that year, Pakistan became its own country including both Western and Eastern Pakistan. Current-day Bangladesh was Eastern Pakistan due to its predominantly Muslim people. In 1971, Bangladesh seceded from Pakistan and became its own independent nation [2].

Before Ibn Battuta left Ceylon, and arrived to the city of Hanbanq, there were some “infidels” (as Ibn Battuta refers to them) or Hindus who robbed him of all his belongings – yet again! This included the rubies he was given by the king in Kunakar. The thieves stole all of his clothing, and all the items he had been saving, even some of the items he had kept with him since he left Tangier. They left him in his undergarments! He had to return to Calicut to get clothes from the qadi. Finally, when he was dressed and better, he went back to the Maldives because one of his wives had given birth to a son. He decided that the son was in better care with her, so he returned on his trip. This is when he went to Hanbanq.

Ibn Battuta’s first remarks about Hanbanq were, “I travelled to the city of Hanbanq, one of the biggest and most beautiful cities.”  He describes a beautiful river that is thought to be either the Meghna River or Chingra Khal River near Sylhet. He traveled on this river for fifteen days before reaching his next destination.

 

Sources:

[1] Macintosh-Smith, Tim. The Travels of Ibn Battutah. London: Picador, 2003.

[2] CIA-The World Factbook, “Bangladesh.” Last modified August 15, 2012. Accessed August 15, 2012. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bg.html.