Joao Pedro Principe, a Portuguese traveller, visits Sylhet
The day I boarded my flight to Bangladesh, my expectations weren’t too high. However, this country turned out to be absolutely mesmeriszing and breathtaking! Last month I set out for Srimongol with a couple of Bangladeshi friends. After completing the overwhelming challenge of perforating the Titan Dhaka Traffic, we found ourselves flying over the famous N2 highway, or at least flying is how it felt.
The entire path is ornamented with beautiful spring flowers and vegetation, small abandoned temples in the midst of rivers and rice fields, and acquitted cattle aimlessly roaming through the heart of the road. All of this absolutely made the risky highway trip more than worth it.
You don’t want to sleep and miss out on the scenic beauty of Srimongol. The air was a refreshing change since we left Dhaka. We began by exploring the village. The view of the tea gardens left us speechless to say the least! Everything about this area is fascinating; from the goats grazing in the greeneries to the image of the very neat CNGs coming through the sandy paths born within the tea estates.
We stayed at one of the bungalows called The Hermitage. It was an incredible experience. The nature, the refreshing natural pool, the lush greenery with perfectly inserted swings, slides and surrounded by nothing but silence. In the first morning, the bungalow had a delightful arrangement for breakfast. Meals were cooked in the main branch of the bungalow – an open space next to a rapid river – a scene which was worth being painted and framed. When it comes to beverages, the famous Sylheti seven layered tea is a praiseworthy drink. The intense sweetness of this tea is a treat which I will remember. The complex mix of flavours and the particular texture will have you come back for more. I highly recommend the tea stall adjacent to the Grand Sultan Tea Resort just for that. Also, what tops my list of food joints is the River Queen Restaurant beside the Nazimgarh Resort. We had a mix of Bengali meals that included khichuri, omelettes, chicken curry, beef, bhortas and daal. Luckily for me, I had no problems getting used to Bengali food. We also had meals at Kutumbari, Chapslee, as well as phuchka from a street cart and snacks at Ujan Bhati.
We were fortunate enough to take a short trip to Lala Khal, where we took a boat ride. We stood on the river-border between Bangladesh and India for several minutes. The low-canoes from a distance look like single lines of people supernaturally dashing through the water. Apart from that, we also witnessed elephants touring with people in the hilly areas.
The trip almost went downhill after I turned a rickshaw on its side by attempting to pull it. I just wanted to take an entertaining picture of myself on a rickshaw. However, the stunt eventually resulted in me losing control and falling into a hole. The worst part was, my friends failed to capture this episode on camera.
To sum it all up, I’d have to say the simplicity yet ingenuity of Bengali craftsmanship never ceases to amaze me. Getting to know the countryside of Bangladesh was one of the most enriching experiences I’ve ever had. If you manage to stay more than a couple of days in Srimongol, be sure to go hiking, cycling, sightseeing and taking in the goodness of the atmosphere.