Kutubdia Batighar (Kutubdia Light House) Chittagong has been a seaport since the ancient times. In 9th century AD the Arab merchants first established trade relation with Chittagong. After the establishment of Muslim rule in Bengal in 14th century, Chittagong port became a busy international seaport. At that time the equipment and tools in the marine vessels were not much developed, exprienced sailors crossed the seas and oceans through using traditional ways and means. During the British rule, the port became nicer than before to look but it still lacked a proper navigational system. A cyclone and tidal bore in 1822 caused a huge destruction to the coastal part of Bay of Bengal. As a result, many Chars or alluvial lands rose in the sea near to the port which caused problems to the local and foreign vessels in relation to the movement in the port areas. At this, British Government conducted a survey for establishing a light house and decided to build a tower to set up one at Kutubdia, 25 miles to the south from Chittagong, which is surrounded by the Bay of Bengal on three sides. Thus the light house was established at Kutubdia, currently under Cox's Bazar district in 1846. The revolving lamp was installed in 1892. This being the oldest, afterward other light houses were erected in Saint Martin, Cox's Bazar, Norman's Point and Patenga etc to show navigational signals to the incoming and outgoing sea-vessels in and around Chittagong port areas. The flickers of the lamps of these lighthouses could be seen from about 25-35km distance, from the deep sea.
Built on a stone foundation, the height of Kutubdia lighthouse was about 40 meters. The deck and stairs in its six chambers were made of wooden. A lamp was set with eight wicks in the topmost chamber. It was kept in a wooden framed box and its light used to be lit before the sunset. Coconut oil was used as its fuel. The lowermost chamber of the batighar was constructed underground the basement and it walls were very thick. Total construction cost of the lighthouse was 4,428 taka. Height of each floor was about 5 meters. Each chember had glass windows.
Kutubdia Batighar was set up at Ali Fakir Vaile in south Dhurang union of west coast under the supervision of British captain Hare and at the instructions of Engineer JH Tugud. The lighthouse was severely damaged by the tornedo in 1897 and the structure became weaker. The guard';s residence was also damaged. Its wooden floor was torn and flown away by the strong wind nearly 70 meters apart. Its tin roof also got into pieces and spread all over the nearby fields. Even heaped-up large stones got spread to and fro. Until its total collapse during the tornedo and tidal bore in 1960, Kutubdia lighthouse had helped the sailors navigate seabound vessels through showing its light upto a distance of 35km.
In 1965 a new lighthouse was erected inside the dam. The old lighthouse is about to become non-existent due to the cyclones and tidal bores again and again. The tower of the new lighthouse is made of steel but still reminds of the old lighthouse. [Ahmed Momtaz]