And it happened all of a sudden when our exam was postponed. We got plenty of free times and wondering about what to do during the unexpected free time. One evening me and my friend Rana proposed the plan to go to bandarban. And that was it! The plan seemed to be everyone’s liking as everyone was willing to break free from the monotonous life.
The journey started at 24th November night 10.30 p.m. The plan was to go to Chittagong from Kaamalapur rail station though train, then through bus to bandarban. We were 10 in number. All of them were from my department. The train started off a little bit late (11.00 pm)…..and we were on to our journey.
Once I earned my seat in the train I tried to sleep as much I could as I knew the very next day will be very tiring…..while my other friends were playing cards, joking. We reached Chittagong train station around 7.00 am. After reaching the train station we had some light but very tasty breakfast.
After having the breakfast we went to the bus station and started off from there at 9.00 am towards our final destination Bandarban. After managing my seat in the bus I started to discover the Chittagong city through the glass of the bus. After a while I found all of my friends asleep......must the night long card playing! But having a sound sleep in the train didn’t help me either! Soon I fell asleep unknowingly. I don’t know how long I slept and was waken up by my friends call who was very excited and asking me to look out the window. When I looked out of the window a cold feeling of excitement flowed through my heart. It was all green and big mountains were surrounding us. And the bus was moving through hilly, undulated and meandering road which made me realize we were close to Bandarban!
We reached Bandarban at at 11.00am. We didn’t have any plan to stay in the Bandarban City rather our plan was to stay at ruma bazaar which is almost 40 km away from the main town center. And the only available transportation to reach Rumabazar was “Chader gari”. Chader gari is a special type Jeep car which can contain almost 25 people inside or on the roof of the Jeep. So we split up into two groups into two Chadergari.
But unfortunately we couldn’t manage our seats inside the jeep. So we had to settle down our self with the sits on the roof of the jeep and of which we obviously were not happy at all. But as the Jeep started to move we realized how lucky we were. The view from the roof was breath taking. The visibility over the distant hilly areas was mind-blowing. The sky was blue. The hot sun seemed just perfect. If we weren’t on the roof of the Jeep we would definitely miss the captivating beauty of the bandarban. Besides we found staying on the “Chader gari” very challenging as you have to keep balance by grabbing the rod of the Bridge of the roof which was risky as well. I tried to take some snaps from the Chadergari....but as the Jeep was moving I ended up with blurry shots….besides I hadn’t the widest lens to take some landscapes.
Anyway we reached at shangu nadi ghat at almost 1.30 p.m. From where it was almost 1 or 1.5 hours of journey by boat to reach Ruma Bajar. So we didn’t delay much, straight got into the boat. And not to mention the view from the boat was fantastic. There were mountains on the two sides of the Shangu river. The water level wasn’t high at all as it was the time of winter. I saw some indigenous kids catching fishes in ankle height water. Once thought to frame the pictures in camera but decided to enjoy the beauty with my own eye. Sometimes you just can’t capture all the beauty of the nature. You have to feel it, enjoy it with your god gifted eye. This is what I realized while I was discovering Bandarban.
Beauty of Shonkho river. Locally known as Shangu . The only river in Bangladesh that starts and ends in Bangladesh
We reached at Rumabazar at 3.30pm. We were starving and very much exhausted. Our next target was to look for hotels and we finally managed a hotel (Hilton Hotel) with 2 rooms of total 5 beds for 700tk. After getting a bit fresh we were on our way to fill our stomachs. The meal was very delicious....may be because of staying the whole day unfed.
Next we went the check out the area…..but it was too late. It was dusk already. But we managed to visit some tribal homes in the adjacent hilly areas and had a great time with some tribal kids. They seemed pretty blissful to see us. But we had come back early to Rumabazar Hotel due lack of light. The night we went to bed early as we knew we had a big day ahead of us. The plan was to wake up early sharp at 6.00 am and to move towards Bogalake.
Layers of Bandarban
Tribal kids in front of fire
But as usual no one wake but me. I wake up my friend Arif and took him with to check out the area, hoping within this time my friends to wake up. It was around 6.30 am and the whole Ruma bazaar was covered by mist. Nothing was visible but the lights of the houses that were still turned situated on in the hills. I couldn’t wait to have a look to the surrounding conditions of the Shangu River. The view of the Shangu River was just excellent. The boats were floating the foggy weather; People were bathing, collecting waters. The misty condition gave the Shangu River a whole new appearance, the mood and atmosphere was totally different from the river I saw yesterday. My mind became full of bliss, being able to explore the beauty of misty Shangu River.
Misty Ruma bazar at 6.30 am
Shangu River at the winter morning
We started our journey towards Boga Lake at 8.30 am. We took permission from the local army camp and had to hire a guide. We decided to walk. The guide told us if we can walk fast enough we might reach there within 2 p.m. which leaves us a very little time to explore the famous Boga Lake as we had to come back to Ruma bazaar within the present day. He also warned us it is not going to be that painless and he insisted to hire a Chader gari. But we decided to enjoy the gorgeousness of Bandarban while walking and hiking and decided to come back from the Boga Lake through Chader gari.
But the guide proved himself right just after 30 min when we got tired hiking a steeply hill. But the guide assured us that next 3 hours will be easy as we will be walking through plain land. So we started moving again. We were on foot in the plain grounds, surrounded by hills in the both side. The beauty of the hills made us dumbfound…and we started to consider ourselves lucky for not missing the magnificent vista. We came across many water streams. The water was crystal clear. It was always my dream to cross across little “Jhiri” (small water streams)…step on the stones inside the water and watch tiny fishes go swimming. And finally my dream came true.
I found some tribal fisher man catching fishes in the Jhiri. The sun was up and the weather got warmer…we started to get sweaty. But the fabulous scenarios of Bandarban were always there to take away our fatigue.
Walking in between the hills
Tribal Fisherman throwing his net insearch of fishes
Tribal women going out for work
Tribal women looking for crabs & fishes inside the stones.
And the journey still goes on......
But things started to get worse when we started hiking again after 4 hours. A friend of mine became sick. It became hard for him to walk anymore with his bulky body. He was slipping in the steeply hills and became frightened. All the way we had to give him confidence and mental strength to trek the hills.
On the top of the hills . This is about 3000 ft high from the sea level. From there we hab to trekk down another 45 min to reach there.
After another 3 hours of struggling and trekking we finally reached Boga Lake. We had no strength left. Not every day you do 6.5 hours of trekking!!...Right??
After 7 hours of trekking all of a sudden the first view that you will get is this when you are close to bogalake which is refreshing enough to take all of your tiredness.
A trible abode in hills around Bogalake
An afternoon moment in Bogalake. Locals believe that the Dragon Lord lives inside the lake.Some people assumes it might be crater of a dead volcano.2700ft above the sea level this unique lake is a must to visit.
Returning from Boga lake
We returned from Boga lake around 4.45 pm. Through Chader gari. We couldn’t stay much in Boga Lake because it is dangerous to drive in dark. While coming back we got the opportunity to enjoy sunset from the hills. The Jeep was moving fast so I couldn’t capture any of the beautiful scenarios.
The next day that is the last day we decided just to check out the Bandarban main town and the well-known Temple of gold. So we came back from Rumabazar and entered the town centre at 11 am. After filling our stomachs we decided to check out the town a little.
A view from the bridge of the Bandarban town.
And our last visited place was the famous temple of gold which is 25 min rickshaw distance from the main town and which only opens from 3.00 pm for visiting.
Temple of Gold (1)
Temple of gold (2)
Prayer. ( in temple of gold).
The last picture of that tour.......returning from temple of Gold.....
There are so many places to visit in Bandarban....Nilgiri,Thanchi, Darjilling para, Keokradong, Chimbuk. Among them none of them we explored. But still we had best time in Bandarban. Bandarban a place we want to visit again and again. The sweet memory of this journey will last ever among us.