M. Tanvir Ahamed
was still dark. Suddenly the lights in the bus flashed on
us. The conductor yelled out, "Hello! Welcome to Bandarban.”
The tourist became fidgety. Some street lamps were still on.
A dog on the tarmac looked at the tourists expectantly. We
spent rest of the night in a mosque near the bus stand. Some
of us looked fatigued and unsure. Our group leader encouraged
us by saying, "You are going to be part of a history
-- You will ascend Keokeradong -- so don't break down."
It worked. Meanwhile, the Fazr azaan from a nearby mosque
ushered in a new day.
having breakfast, we walked to the bus stand to hire a "chander
gari." Local people call the jeeps chander gari, and
with one of these as a vehicle, our journey starts.
nine in all in one jeep; we set off for our first destination
-- Khyongchori. It has another name -- Rumaghat. However,
the jeep was going fast through the zigzag route. The driver
was very skilled. Looking down from the precipitous road,
it felt like as if we were ascending the sky, ready to drift
away any moment. The jeep halted at Sailopropat. It looked
familiar to us as it was used for shooting sport. We captured
a few scenes for posterity, then started for Rumaghat. It
would takes two and a half-hour.
were arranged in rows. From hereafter, no automobile would
run. It was natural paradise -- no traffic, no smoke -- only
chirping of birds and breath-taking natural beauty. The November
sun was overhead. It was the day after Eid-ul-Azha.
And we were not the only groups there.
were advancing across the river on a boat. Water felt very
cold as some of us tried stretch out to touch. It took one
and an half hours to reach Rumabazar. The sun was dropping
slowly in west. And we were very hungry. Moreover, our baggage
made us more tired. We walked towards Ruma Rest House, the
place we planned to stay. It was a two-storied building surrounded
by a natural lake. We rented two rooms. In the meantime, some
of us rushed and jumped into the lake to relax. We looked
for an expert guide, as the rest of the journey would only
be on foot. Mohsin bhai, our guide, was polite and
skilled in cooking. We got hold of him in the evening. By
this time, we enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the Rizuk fountain.
The only way to go to Rizuk was to by boat across the Sangu
us that what once was reserved for the fairy-tale princess,
was for us to indulge in. Bathing in fountain water was certainly
a life-time experience. When we reached Rizuk some of us began
to unclothe themselves as if it were a competition.
is the second highest fall in the country. It is next to Madhabkunda.
In the mean time, photo session spree began. I took part in
that too. We bathed in the fall water. One of our enthusiastic
friends managed to receive injury during the hustle and bustle.
His left leg got fractured. It was near dark. We had to get
back to the rest house. Journey at night here is risky, goons
wait to swoop on tourists.
morning Mohsin bhai came. We bought grocery and other
necessities to tide us over for seven days. We brought things
such as chocolates, tissue, and saline from Dhaka.
stop was the Boga Lake. The journey to the Boga Lake was a
treacherous one. On our way, our friend Rony's condition worsened,
he was bleeding profusely. We were apprehensive. It was a
danger we did not envisage. However, we decided to carry on
and reached the Lake in the evening.
was a myth about the Boga Lake among the hillmen. A large
dragon used to live in a cave in a near by village. It used
to feed on domestic animal and even children. One-day, village
people gathered. They trapped the dragon and killed it. It
called for a festival. But, Immediately after that the village
caved in deep into the earth.
means dragon. The area is one lakh square metre. It is the
only source of pure drinking water for the hill people. The
most interesting aspect of this lake is that its water changes
colour at different times of the day. After having filled
our stomachs, we started for Darjeeling para. From
there we would start for Keokeradong.
Rony's illness worsened. He wanted to go back. Our group leader
Nazmul bhai divided the group into two. The decision
was that Nazmul bhai would send Rony and Raju back
to Dhaka. I along with other set out for Darjeeling para.
But after all the exertion, no one wanted to revert course.
So, the journey went on.
was looming. It is risky at night in the hills. Fortunately,
there was a full moon, silvery light showed us the path through
trees and vegetation. We reached Darjeeling para
by 8pm. We spent the night in a bamboo house. In the morning,
with full enthusiasm, we set off for Keokeradong. It is half-an-hour
walk form Darjeeling to Keokeradong. After some time, we came
across a man selling orange in a shop. The competition for
eating up oranges began. We finished all his stock within
reached the foot of the Keokeradong, everyone exclaimed flatly
almost in chorus, "is this Keokeradong? After all the
hard work to see this?" But, we were soon proved wrong.
As we reached the peak of mountain, all the hardship and suffering
seemed worth it. Our faces glowed with the joy of success.
Keokeradong we moved on to Sung Sung para. It is
the largest village in this area. Total of 98 families live
here. Most of them were indigenous Bom people. The Sung Sung
Youth Federation organised a cultural show in our honour.
We were amazed by the dance rhythm the girls worked up with
others manipulating the bamboo sticks. We were served red
rice with pumpkin curry, which tasted superb. We bought chicken
from every para (village) we went through. Red rice
and sweet pumpkin are staple of the hill people. We spent
that night in Sung Sung para.
three nights in the hills, at down, we started for Pukur para
with our new guide Vanram Som. It was a less trodden area,
so we decided to take him in addition to Mohsin bhai.
Bushes, hays and leeches made our journey more difficult.
We kept hearing loud cries at intervals. We had to walk eight
hours in water. At Pukur para Sujun Trepara welcomed
us. Their bamboo-built house was our resting place for that
night. His room was on the first floor. Sujan said, a surprise
was waiting for us. He advised us to get up early.
ready to see the surprise. Once awake at the wee hour, we
started off with Sujan as our guide. After walking an hour
or so he said, "Stop and look." Not a single word
could we utter when we looked at the fall, so large, so magnificent,
so astonishingly beautiful! It was breath taking! It was deep
in the forest, only the hill people know about it. It is 300
feet long and 20 feet high; the Rikhan river originates from
was the last thing to remember the journey by. After that,
it was time to go back to Ruma Rest House. We went to see
the Chimbuk hill by chander gari. Here the peaks of hills
and clouds whisper to one another. Clouds roll in the lap
of the Chimbuk pahar (hill). We could see the Bay
of Bengal from there. We caught Dhaka-bound bus from Bandarban
to get back again in the hub of smoke, traffic and scurred
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