the wonderful sanctuary BAIKKA BEEL

Baikka beel is another bird sanctuary of this region. It is on the eastern part of the Hail haor. Hail haor is a large wetland encompassing about 100 hectares. It is about 20km from the Moulvibazar town. Baikka beel was declared to be a sanctuary for fishes in 2003.

Baikka beel is located in an area of great natural beauty. The widespread empty wetland near it is simply amazing. The beautiful scenario stretching over miles creates an unbelievable feeling. You can see the blue horizon meeting the blue haor water here.

This beel is the living place of numerous birds and fishes. From the time you enter the haor area you will be engrossed by the sweet chirping of various birds. Moorhans, marsh harriers, teals, ducks and many other birds are seen here. If you are a bird watcher you will be very delighted.

There is a watchtower about 2 stories height to provide a better view of the landscape. The beel area isn’t only beautiful because of these birds but also for the beautiful lilies, lotus and many other unknown aquatic flowers and plants. While riding a boat you will find yourself surrounded by large leafy lilies. Much of the water is usually covered with the flowers in their blooming season.

The best time of visit should be very early in the morning, starting from sunrise to two hours after that. Another preferable time will be in the afternoon before sunset. Although there is no specific duration of entering the area or climbing the watch tower but this two specific times will enable you to enjoy the best sights. You can also stay there from dawn to dusk and don’t worry about food, there are a few small restaurants to satisfy your hunger.

Fare: Climb observation tower : 05 taka
Boat ride half an hour : 20 taka
Boat ride one hour : 30 taka

Travelling

You can take autorickshaws (called CNG locally) for your travel. If you start from Srimangal, then for a trip of travelling to the beel, about a 2-hour hault amd returning back to Srimangal will cost about 400 – 500 BDT. You can also use a bus in that case you will have to use a cycle or some other transport as bus will drop you at the entrance of the country road. Private cars, jeeps and even cycles can also be used if you have no problem reading the signs or finding your way to the beel.

If you haven’t yet added Baikka beel to your places to visit list then you should add it right away!

Hakaluki haor: Largest haor of Bangladesh

Sylhet division has many haors as an integral part of its unique ecosystem. Hakaluki is one of these haors. It is the home of numerous animals, fishes and birds and a large variety of flora and fauna.

Hakaluki haor is situated in the eastern part of Bangladesh adjacent to the Assam-Bangladesh border. 5 upzillas comprise this haors total area. 3 of them Kulaura, Juri and Baralekha are under Moulvibazar district. While the other 2 upzillas – Golapganj and Fenchuganj are under Sylhet division. It covers a large surface area of about 181.15 km2. Around 40% of this land falls in the territory of Baralekha upzilla. This huge land coverage makes it Bangladesh’s largest haor and one of Asia’s larger wetlands. However, 80 inter-connecting beels form the Hakaluki haor. In dry season this haor dries up much as like other haors. During monsoon establishes itself in a full to the brink condition. Then the inter-connected water bodies combine with each other to function as one.

This haor basin supports numerous wetland habitats. Different types of plants are found here. Various known- unknown plants and rare aquatics adorn this area with shades of green. The abundance of trees and herbs is surprising. But these aren’t the greatest treasure of the land, rather the wide range of wild animal is. It provides sanctuary to many species of animals and birds including some very rare kinds – already declared as threatened, vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered species.

A total of 558 species of animal and birds have been identified here. Amphibians, reptiles, aves and mammals all of them enrich the biodiversity of this haor region. Among these animals are the freshwater Turtle and Tortoises, Otters, Capped Langur, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, dolphin, snakes and many more.

Besides trees and animals Hakaluki haor has something more special for the bird lovers. Presence of birds of many different species adds life to this haor. 417 species of aves have been spotted here among which 26 are totally threatened, 2 are vulnerable, 10 are endangered and 14 critically endangered species. Besides local birds many migratory birds visit this area in winter. The number of migratory birds are increasing every year. As a result Hakaluki haor has become a significant site for bird watching. Wide variety of waterfowl seen here is one of the main attractions. Among the other species are the Fulvous Whistling Duck, Lesser Whistling Duck, Falcated Duck, Ruddy Shell Duck, Tufted Duck, Common Shell Duck, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Greylag Geese Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveller, Graganey, Blue-winged Teal, Mallard, Gadwall, Wigeon, Common Teal, Ferruginous Pochard, Common Pochard, Indian Pond Heron, Grey Heron, Cattle Egret, Great Egret, Large Egret, Little Egret, Intermediate Egret, Purple Swamp Hen, Pheasant-Tailed Jacana, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Little Cormorant, Great Cormorant, Asian Open bill, Common Coot, Pintail Snipe, Marsh Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Wood Sandpiper, Spotted Green Shank, Red Shank, Red-Wattled Lapwing, Brown-Headed Gull and Black-Headed Gull. Rarely seen – Bears Pochards and Grey-Headed Lapwings are also found here at times.

Class Total Species Total threatened Vulnerable category Endangered category Critically endangered category

Amphibia
12 7 5 2 0

Reptilia
70 43 20 19 4

Aves
417 26 2 10 14

Mammalia
59 23 6 9 8

Total
558 99 33 40 26

Hakaluki haor has been designated as an ECA – Ecologically Critical Area under environment conservation act in 1995. It is also declared as a protected Ramsar with a view to conserve wetlands and utilize them properly.

Travelling:

Regular bus service to Srimangal or Moulvibazar is available from Sayedabad Dhaka. It takes only about 4 hours. once you reach any of these places you may take a rent a car to go to hakaluki haor. You can also go to Srimangal by train. If you are eager to squeeze the time duration from hours to minutes you can also use the airway with little increase in the expense. In that case also you will be requiring a car or local bus to take you from the Sylhet Osmani Airport to the haor region.

Accommodation:

For accommodation there are hotels available in the Moulvibazar town. You can easily go to Hakaluki haor from there during daytime and stay in the town hotel during the night.

When to visit:

Hakaluki haor Adorns itself differently in different seasons. During monsoon the haor area turns into an endless sea. In winter it’s a different picture. Hundreds of migratory birds flock together and make the haor heavenly for the spectators mainly the bird watchers.

Hakaluki Haor is a unique place to visit specially for the nature-lovers. So if you are one of these lovers don’t forget visitng hakaluki when you are on vacation next time.

MOULVIBAZAR : The Land of Tea – Part :II

Shopping: A major part of Moulvibazar inhabitants live abroad, mostly UK. This fact greatly influenced the development of the region in different sectors. Shopping centers are one of those sectors.

  • M. R. Plaza
  • Big bazaar
  • Ahmed mansion
  • Bilash
  • Payel Western plaza
  • Mahbub Plaza

Julia shopping center etc – are some of the well-known shopping malls. All the modern commodities are readily available here.

Travelling:

ROAD: Direct bus service is readily available from Dhaka and other major cities to Moulvibazar. From Dhaka if you leave early in the morning it will take about 5.30 hours. You can also take a train although there is no direct train service to Moulvibazar from Dhaka. But you can easily get off the train at Srimangal station and take a car to Moulvibazar. The whole process will take about 5 hours.
By Air: Planes from Dhaka fly to Sylhet daily. The Osmani International Airport of Sylhet is only about 45 miles. Reaching the airport you can take a car and head to Moulvibazar. This will in total take about two hours but will surely cost more than the other modes of transport.

Places to visit:

  • The Shrine of Hazrat Shah Mustafa (Ra)
  • Madhabkunda waterfalls
  • Madhabkunda Eco park
  • Lawachara national park
  • Hakaluki haor
  • Madhobpur tea garden and lake
  • Barshijora Eco park
  • Memorial of Birshreshtho Hamidur Rahman
  • Monipuri village
  • Damaged gas field at Magurchara
  • Manu barrage
  • Baraura lake
  • Magurcherra Khasia punjee
  • Nirmai Shibbari
  • Orange gardens
  • Baikka beel
  • Bangladesh Tea Research Institute (BTRI)
  • Muktijuddho grave yard
  • Old court building
  • Palace of Hindu Raja Raj Chandra in Khalilpur union is famous for its architectural heritage.
  • Ekatuna is one of the richest unions for its pounds and dollars coming from UK and USA

The Mazar of Hazrat Shah Mustafa (Ra) :

The mazar of Hazrat Shah Mustafa (Ra) is located at the center of the Moulvibazar town. He was a descendent of the 4th Khalifa Hazrat Ali (Ra). About 700 years ago he came to Sylhet as a companion of the great Sain Hazrat Shah Jalal (Ra). Hazrat Shah Mustafa (Ra) began to live at Mostafapur of Moulvibazar district. He spread the words of Islam there and established a peaceful society. It is said that the place was actually named after Hazrat Shah Mustafa (Ra). The city Moulvibazar has been named after his successor Moulvi Syed Kudrat Ullah. Many people come daily to visit this mazar. Visiting this mazar will instill a feelings of holiness in your mind.

Madhabpur tea estate lake:

Madhabpur tea estate is another beautiful spot near Moulvibazar. It is about 50km from the town in Kamalganj upzilla. The estate offers great natural sceneries with all the tea plants standing in line on the hillocks. The presence of a lake in this tea estate makes the surrounding gorgeous. The lake is huge and it has small hills are on all the sides. The water here is awesomely cool and refereshing. It will be hard to control yourself from not jumping into it. Arrangement for boat riding in the lake is also available. Generally evening time is best for boat riding in the lake. Rare blue lotus and water lily mostly pink ones decorate the banks of the lake from time to time. These flowers add final touch of elegance to this lake’s charm. In winter this lake becomes a home for migratory birds.

Barshijora Eco park:

It is located in Moulvibazar Sadar, 2km from the zilla sadar. This eco park is also an attempt to conserve our precious nature. It is not yet that much developed as other eco parks but when you are in the town and have a little time with nothing to do at all, this might be the place you may make a short visit to.

MOULVIBAZAR : The Land of Tea – Part : I

Welcome to the land of tea is what a sculpture says on the entrance of the Moulvibazar district. It portraits a female tea-plucker with a basket on her back. This is enough to let you know the main attraction of this place is the tea-estates. But it will be only half of the picture, as moulvibazar has so many other fascinations besides the tea-estates.

Moulvibazar is a north-eastern district of Bangladesh. On its west is Habiganj. On the north side it is surrounded by Sylhet distrtict. While on the South and east sides it has a boundary with Indian states Tripura and Assam respectively. From these adjacent states various streams find their way into Moulvibazar. The Dholoi, Manu and  Juri ,the main rivers of this region, are such rivers.

History:

The place was named Moulvibazar after Moulvi Kudratullah, who used to preach Islam here. He was one of the descedents of Hazrat Shah Mustafa (Ra), a companion of the great saint Hazrat Shah Jalal (Ra) who spread Islam all over Sylhet. In the 17th century Moulvi established a small bazaar near his house which was moulvibazar by the local inhabitants. In course of time this market flourished and the place became familiar as Moulvibazar. However before the 14th century, i.e. before the Muslim era, this region is thought to have a majority of Hindu inhabitants. Hindu religious book revealed Moulvibazar as holy place and river Manu as divine tribute.

Natural beauty:

Moulvibazar offers great scenic beauty and immense natural charm. Tea-gardens, mixed evergreen forests, mountains and waterfalls running down these mountains are the major fascinations of its beauty. Among other attractions of the land are the interesting lifestyle of the tea-garden workers and the unique culture of the local tribal people. The luxurious residences made by the expatriates may also be noted in the Places to See list.

Tea estates are the common most feature of Moulvibazar. Moulvibazar has many hills – small ones and big ones followed by flat lands. These topographic features make it very favorable for production of tea. This is why there are 92 tea- estates in Moulvibazar while there are 154 of them in the whole country. Bangladesh has become one of the leading countries of the world in exporting tea. Two of the greatest tea producing estates in the world are located here. In the tea gardens the tea trees are planted in regular manner in the slopes of the hills. Big trees usually trees bearing fruits are planted in between them to provide shade. Everything there is in a very orderly fashion. Every plant and tree seems to be very strict as if not to disrupt the regularity. In these tea estates various animals find shelter. If you are lucky you may see some rare animals while visiting them.

Accommodation:

Moulvibazar has flourished much as a tourist spot. A large number of tourists from home and abroad every year visit this place. For their accommodation, now a good number of hotels are available here with a few differences in facilities served. Some of Moulvibazar’s hotels are

  • Hotel Sonargaon (contact no: 0861 – 64607)
  • Hotel Helal (contact no : 0861- 52535)
  • Hotel Rezia (contact no: 01716 – 086463)
  • Parjatan Resthouse (contact no: 0861 – 52350)
  • Sheraton Plaza (contact no: 0861 – 52020)
  • Hotel Rajdhani
  • Hotel Camilla
  • Hotel Basundhara
  • Hotel Lal Kella

Some restaurants are

  • Hotel Western Plaza (contact no: 0861 – 64810)
  • Bengal Food and Restaurant
  • Hotel City King Chinese (contact no: 0861 – 62775)
  • Rajmahal
  • Shad
  • Hotel Prince
  • Khawa-dawa
  • Rahmania
  • Manager stall etc

All these Hotels and Restaurants are located in Moulvibazar town. You can also book your rooms in hotels not located in moulvibazar rather than in Srimangal, which may be considered the best tourist attraction spot of this division.

Some hotels and restaurant in Srimangal are

  • Hotel Plaza (contact no: 08626 – 71525)
  • Tea resort (contact no: 08626 – 71207)
  • B.T.R.I (contact no: 08626 – 71225)
  • Tea town restaurant
  • Hotel Prince etc.

You can also take room in Baralekha area in

  • Hotel Al-Amin
  • Hotel Amirat

MadhabKunda: A place you don’t want to miss!

This time, I am not going to guide you to madhabkunda! This time, I am going to share with you a story, the story about a boy visiting Madhabkunda for the first time.

He was told that there was a waterfall where they were going, he was told that it was beautiful! The boy could not care less about the place being beautiful, all he cared about was the waterfall. It was an overcast day, it was the rainy season and it had rained last night .He was with his parents, the micro bus was running through narrow but smooth roads leaving behind tea gardens, rubber gardens! All of these,on any other circumstances, would have made the boy want to stop there on the tea gardens or rubber gardens. But he was too busy thinking about Madhabkunda! Suddenly someone pointed out of the window and shouted ” Look! “. It took a moment or two before the boy realized what he was asked to see and then he saw it…the blue outlines of far tall hills what seemed to him like mountains! He was told that they were going there. The boy became even more restless. He kept his gaze fixed on those outlines as the hills kept coming closer to him. He saw white cloud sitting there on the hills and for the first time that day thought if he could go there! After some time, he could not see the hills anymore because of trees. What he did not realize was that now they were nearly inside the hill tracks! The road took a left turn to a lesser road,it was bumpy but the boy was enjoying every moment when he was informed that they will be there soon. The area looked uninhabited, the boy saw no one, only the trees and jungles and bushes.

They had to come off the microbus as the driveway ended, and the boy was free now! He started to run but was soon stopped by his father. He was told that the path was too sleepy and thus dangerous. The boy could hardly wait. As they walked by a small river with very strong current what seemed to him, he heard a distant rumbling sound and was told that it was the sound from the waterfall. The boy wanted to run but was held tightly by the hand,and the muddy path was slippy indeed. As they walked, the whole area was getting foggy, the boy wondered why! The sound was getting louder and the fog was getting heavier…and then, with a left turn into a rocky opening, he saw it! He did not want to run anymore, he did not want to jump into the water, he did not want to scream, all he wanted to do was see! The water was coming down angrily and roared into the ground. The fog was coming from the impact of water on solid stone and water! Trust me, it was beautiful! After the initial shock was over, the boy became a boy again and started to play,heavily guarded by his parents though! On his way back,he saw two elephants with tribal people and he was lucky enough to ride one of them! How could a day get any better?

I have skipped many parts and places and natural beauty as it was not a travel story, it was a memory! I will be more than happy to provide any information you ask for. I have been there 10-12 times and I know the place very well.  It is heart breaking that the place has been stripped off many of its natural beauties in the recent years, but still it is beautiful enough to give at least 3 visits! So do it at least once, you will regret if you don’t!

The Lawachara Rain Forest: Where Wildlife Can Breathe Safely

It is one of the most important rain forest and major reserve of Bangladesh. To preserve the wildlife the government declared as a national park in 1997.

Photo credit: Nazimgarh Resorts

The park is home to a large diversity of about 460 species among which 167 are plants, 4 amphibian species, 6 reptile species, 246 bird species and 20 mammal species. Bee-eater owls, parrots are found here. So for bird watchers it is a must to visit this place.

Hoolock gibbons, highly endangered in Bangladesh, are also seen here jumping from one tree to another. Leopards, deer, wild chicken, wild bore, squirrel, python, even king cobra are among the other inhabitants of this forest. Besides these animals one rare type of Chloroform tree of Asia is found here.

Visitors can enjoy hiking and walking to indulge themselves in the nature close to the wildlife using the numerous trails in the forest.

The hill tops of this forest are the home for different tribal peoples. Khasias and Manipuris are the main inhabitants here. Tourists can visit these tribes to get acquainted to their customs and traditions. Manipuri dance is one of the must-see features of this area. Manipuris are also famous for their traditional weaving. Their handicrafts, shawls, saree, bags, bed covers etc can be bought from local markets. Khasia’s on the other hand are well known for betel leaf cultivation.

Traveling:

Taking a bus from Sylhet town may take you to the destination in or about 2hours. Or one can manage to go from Srimangal also. It will take 3.5hours to reach Srimangal from Dhaka and a few minutes from there to the forest. Train service from Dhaka to Srimangal is also available.

Accommodation:

Visitors can spend their nights in hotels, bungalows or resorts in Srimangal.