WITH the holidays coming and the kids starting a winter vacation, this is definitely the best time for a holiday. With winter bringing the most favourable weather to travel in Bangladesh, there are no shortages of places to visit in our country. Starting from the exquisite natural beauty of Bandarban and Kuakata to the wilderness of St. Martins Island, and from the ruins of Mainamati to the beach resort of Cox's Bazaar, we have selected places which may please both travel-nuts and family holiday-makers.
Accommodations are quite good, but the Parjatan at Kuakata is the safest and cosiest place. There are a number of other hotels around the badh (dam), and asking a rickshaw-van driver to take you there would be the wisest.
Kuakata is also a sanctuary for thousands of migratory birds and this adds to the beauty of the truly beautiful beach. Lazing off at the beach can definitely be a great pastime, with only the sound of the ocean to disturb you. The beach is said to be safe for visitors both at night and during the day. However, the whole sea-faring village seems to sleep at around 10 at night, so the place goes quiet pretty early.
Kuakata is the haven for the traveller who intends to spend his/her holiday in solitude. If one is with a newly-wed or partner, this can definitely be a nice place to get to know each other better. Travelling in a group is definitely a bash in Kuakata.
Getting there: There are direct buses to Kuakata, which leave from Gulistan at 5-o clock everyday. However, if you really want the journey to be a nice one, travel to Patuakhali by launch and then take a bus to Kuakata. The roads from Patuakhali to Kuakata are not at all in good shape.
One of the best activities would definitely be to wake up early in the morning and go to the beach to view the sunrise. A walk down the beach early in the morning can definitely be quite an experience and to add to all that, the beach is scantily filled with people during early hours. Walking away from the main beach, one can see fishermen running into the sea to unravel their nets. The breeze at the beach is wonderful and so is the warmth of the winter sun. South of Cox's Bazaar are more secluded beaches where having a swim can still be a private experience rather than a public spectacle. They include Himchari Beach and Inani Beach.
Getting there: One could take a direct bus from Dhaka to Cox's Bazaar, with a stopover at Chittagong. The roads are pretty good and the journey is better by night. Alternative means are taking a flight to Cox's Bazaar, but the costs are far higher. If one is travelling to Cox's Bazaar by bus it definitely tests ones patience. At the bus stop the bus is surrounded by dalaals all haggling for some tourists to take accommodations at one of 'their' hotels. It is best to search for accommodations yourself, as being conned by these dalaals is a daily happening.
Getting there: Firstly one has to travel to Cox's Bazaar. From Cox's Bazaar catch a bus to Teknaf. Teknaf itself is quite a place to visit, with the endless ocean ahead and the beautiful beach. From Teknaf, ferries run daily to St. Martin Island and it takes about 3 hours to get to the island. The total distance from Dhaka to the island is about 510km.
Salban Vihara was a large monastery facing a temple. Nearby is a museum housing the finds excavated here, which include terracotta plaques, bronze statues, coins, jewellery and votive stupas embossed with Buddhist inscriptions. The museum is equipped with interesting excerpts from history and may be very educational for the young ones. Kotila Mura comprises three large stupas representing Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, the 'Three Jewels of Buddhism'. Some of the major ruins are within a military cantonment and cannot be visited without permission from military officers. Safety is therefore not an issue.
Getting there: The ruins are about 70km south-east of Dhaka, and getting there is fairly easy. However, taking the car for the weekend seems the best choice.
Getting there: To get to the archaeological site from Dhaka, take a bus or train to Bogra, and another bus to Jaipurhat. From Jaipurhat take a rickshaw to the crossroads, and then a tempo to Paharpur village.
temple is simply stunning even now after all these years.
The Siva Temple is a lasting example of stunning temple architecture, coming from the influence of north India. The temple is decorated with stone carvings and sculptural works, which unfortunately were disfigured during the War of Liberation.
Getting there: Puthia is 23km east of Rajshahi and 16km west of Natore. Catch a bus from either town. Puthia is 1km south of the highway.
Getting there: Take a bus to Chittagong from Dhaka. From Chittagong there are direct buses to Bandarban. The journey from Chittagong to Bandarban is quite an adventurous one and the roads are really twisted.
We really urge you to take a break, discover your country and truly fall in love with it.
Mishel Ali Khan
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