Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 41, Tuesday October 21, 2008


the philosopher's stone

That's what it's called. Dhaeni pathor! I couldn't think of anything other than the Philosopher's stone; no connection to Harry Potter by the way. But let me start from where it all began.

We were clueless about Tindu, all sixteen of us. We embarked on the journey from Dhaka on 8 October- destination Banderban. We had a photographer on board and we took a 'chader gari'- a convertible jeep that would house the whole clan and the whims of a photographer who tends to bring out his camera at the drop of a hat. Such a show off!

As the speeding jeep sliced through the air like a rocket, we munched and enjoyed the picturesque surroundings. We went towards Thanchi, that is where we needed to get the permission from Bangladesh Rifles to go to Tindu, a good 100 kilometresfrom Bandarban Town.

Upon reaching Thanchi, 'food minister' Jewel went busy making arrangements for food provisions and we were served with delightful rice, lentil, scrambled eggs, mutton and veggies. Shawon and our guide Mankei Marma went to meet the BDR officials. The meat kind of tasted funny but we tried not to think of it for long. Some may have found it difficult to prevent the upchuck reflex.

We presented all our credentials to the BDR, and taking their permission we went all aboard five large canoes, five of us occupying each boat. It was like a frigate of three canoes under Commodore Shawon.

We were going against the tide, along the Shangu river; sometimes getting down and pushing the boats, standing on the floor of the shallow, stony river. We reached Tindu at around 7:30. The sun was down, the ethereal beauty of Tindu hidden in utter darkness.

Tindu is the abode of the Marmas and Surong, where over a thousand indigenous people live. The place situated on a hilltop had a bazaar and a Buddhist monastery. We were amazed to see a people who still maintain a matriarchal society.

En route to the 'Philosopher's Stone' (Dhaeni pathor) we came across a waterfall. Boro pathor' it was called. As we reached the source, we were dazzled by the beauty of the place. From there we went to the star attraction.

At first glance it seemed that stones were sunken in the river, deep in meditation. Small boats manoeuvred around the rocks. The people of the land worship them as every year countless people die submerged in the waters around these rocks. They put garlands on the rocks and pray. We spent the evening near the stones, and as we were coming back, a flock of crane gave us the 'guard of honour!'

By Trisha Samira
Translated by Mannan Mashhur Zarif
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed

Getting there!

You can take a bus directly to Bandarban. Charges around Tk 450 for AC and 350, non AC.

From Bandar Town, you can take a jeep (called Chader Gaari by the local people) to Thanchi. The cost per head would be Tk 170/180 or you can reserve a vehicle for 3500 to 4000.

The journey from Thanchi to Tindu is by boat. The only mode of transport is a boat but let us warn that the journey is not for the faint hearted. Haggle for the price; it costs about 1000/1500 per day, per boat. Shallow boats will cost higher, but takes the charm out of travelling.

Staying at Tindu does not have much options when it comes to accommodation. You can stay wither at the house of the member of the Union Council or the head of the local community (called the Karbari). The cost along with food is about Tk 300.

Contact: Incitaa Tourism, 19 Green Road, AK Complex, 5th Floor, Dhaka # 01552484201, 01818015570


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