It’s that time of the year again! Winter in Bangladesh is a season of celebrations wrapped with weddings, festivals and tours. However, this winter has been quite anti-climatic; we are currently in the middle of a pandemic with no end in sight. COVID-19 has affected every aspect of our lives, including family gatherings and festivities. The big fat weddings have turned into modest homely affairs, and tourism has mostly been confined to national boundaries.
Nature has always inspired me; it has been the source of solace at trying times. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to spend some quality time in arguably the most naturally beautiful place in the country. As my mother-in-law was a resident of the city, I had the privilege to visit Rangamati frequently. It is a small, clean, and beautiful city located amongst the green hills and rivers of the Chattogram Hill Tracts. The people here are friendly and welcoming. I was elated by their warmth and generosity. It is the administrative headquarter of the Rangamati Hill District; I have rarely felt so safe in my city back in Dhaka. For a long time, Rangamati has been a prime Bangladesh tourist destination for its location, scenic beauty, tribal homespun textiles, and ivory jewellery. It is a nature lover’s paradise with a breathtaking panoramic view of highland beauty and the serenity of lake water at the same time.
Rangamati is called the city of the Lake as it is located by the bank of the beautiful Kaptai Lake. Kaptai Lake adorns Rangamati with artistic precision and connects almost every part of the district. The road leading to Rangamati circles and winds through hilly terrains covered with lush green forests. A stay here provides a glimpse into the lifestyle of various tribes living there. Besides being a popular tourist destination, the place has significant cultural value for our country. Rangamati is home to the most diverse groups of ethnic tribes in the country, including Chakma, Marma, Tanchangya, Pangkhua, Lushai, Khiang, and Murang.
Perhaps the feature that makes this place unique is its ability to cleanse the soul with purity and mysticism. Although Rangamati is an all-weather destination, the rainy season transforms it into a lush green paradise, visiting Rangamati in the season is highly recommended. On my trip to the place a decade ago, we hired a large motorboat to Shuvolong waterfalls. As soon as our boat started sailing on the vast sheet of crystal water, a wild ecstasy ran through my veins as the atmosphere devoured me.
Kaptai is the largest lake in Bangladesh, resulting from the construction of Kaptai Dam on the Karnaphuli River. However, its aesthetic appeal transcends any factual significance. Over the years, it has become a popular boating destination with Parjatan and private tour spots spread across the area. Cruising on the lake provides an excellent opportunity to explore the natural landmarks and historical monuments accessible only by boats. On the way to Shuvolong, the sight of the carefree floating birds, the statue of Lord Buddha on the hilltop, the grandeur of the highlands, and the vast sheet of blue water enchanted me. On the milieu highlands, I was mesmerised by the sheer magnificence nature could offer.
Shuvolong WaterFalls is situated in Borokol sub-district and is only accessible through the lake. The place is famous for the high waterfalls and the nearby tribal market. I ended up spending hours at the place immersed in its beauty. There’s no better place to find yourself than sitting by a waterfall and listening to its music.
Established at Rangamati town in 1978, the Tribal Museum is the only tribal cultural museum in the Hill Tracts region. The museum is located just near the entry point to the Rangamati town. It is run under the rules of the Tribal Cultural Institute. The museum is enriched with a vast collection of traditional tribal ornaments, bamboo flutes, silver-and-ivory necklaces, costumes, pottery, musical instruments, armaments, tribal paintings and photographs, ancient manuscripts, and statues.
Hanging Bridge (Jhulonto Bridge) is the landmark icon of Rangamati. This structure’s total size is about 335 feet long and is situated across a portion of the Kaptai Lake. It has been the obligatory tourist destination across generations in our country.
PEDA TING TING:
It is a small island on Kaptai Lake. Located a few kilometers away from Rangamati town, the place is tranquil and hospitable, with several accommodation facilities.
RAJBAN BIHAR PAGODA
This Pagoda is an internationally known Buddhist Temple. Perched on the mountains, it is one of the most ancient religious structures in the world. It is essential to keep in mind that it is a religious establishment and preserving its sanctity is essential for everyone. Etiquette at Buddhist temples is relatively universal. Visitors should remove their shoes at the door, wear clothing that covers knees and shoulders, and keep noise to a minimum. Pay attention to posted signage and avoid disruptive photography, especially when monks are praying.
TRAVEL AND ACCOMMODATION
Being one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, travelling to Rangamati through Chattogram is very convenient with a lot of options. Chattogram is directly linked with Dhaka by road, rail, and air; there are several options available to reach Rangamati from Chattogram, including bus and rented cars. Within Rangamati city, you can move around in rented three-wheelers (CNG).
Accommodation is quite readily available in the area with a diverse price range. There are several high-end hotels with international recognition. If you are on a tight budget, there are numerous affordable options, including renting a hut for a few hours from the locals.