A journey to the swamp forest in Sylhet

Ratargul is the only swamp forest in Bangladesh. Abu Yousuf, out of a chance, has paid a visit there and shares his truly heartwarming experience with us. Why don’t just seat back and take a journey to a swampy green forest?  

 

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With the work and regular classes, my mind was already burdened heavily. On top of that, I could feel the eagerness of my soul to go on a trip, to freshen everything up. During this period, in the mid of September, my cousin proposed me to be the companion of his travelling. This is always lovely to get an opportunity to be a participant in a travel group because this opportunity always gives me a relief from my busy life. No doubt that I bagged that chance at once to treat myself. We set our aim to go to Sylhet. This is a naturally blessed land, situated on the north-eastern part of Bangladesh, which has abundance of mind bogglingly beautiful spots, so we fix our eyes onto it. We have gathered information about a special waterfall at Madhabkunda, tea estates, reserved forests and so many other spots, so we were assured that this trip is going to be a fantastic one. We caught our train from Kamlapur Railway Station at 9.50 pm and reached Sylhet at the wee hours of the morning. It was a rainy season, smoggy weather was prevailing there. The weather of Sylhet is quite different from Dhaka, so it is a common scenario that people from Dhaka has been suffering from fever when they return from Sylhet. I was not being an exception of that.

We contacted a colleague of my cousin there, so we did not have any difficulties to arrange the hotel rooms. We took a shower and had our breakfast at the rooftop of that building, which was a beautiful experience. Sylhet looks like a very clean city from the rooftop. After finishing our breakfast we went to our room to take some rest. In the afternoon, the colleague of my cousin introduced us with some of his friends. We together had a great time and long discussions on so many topics. We together visited the shrines of Shah Jalal. In the evening, we enjoyed street foods and roamed around the city. A proposition came from the group, to pay visit to a swamp forest near the city. We accepted the proposal with great eagerness and agreed to go there next morning. I did not think that the next day will give me the most amazing experience of my life but I was curious and enthusiastic to embrace the road towards a new destination.

In the morning, after enjoying a heavy rainfall, we started our journey. We hired an auto-Rickshaw from the stand.  Every member of our group looked very excited to see a new and beautiful place. We were going through the road which was set at the foot of hills. This road may not give you the complete feeling of hilly trip but the journey can be quite enjoyable. In hilly road, there is extreme fear and extreme pleasure too but in such a road that kisses only the root of hills, may not give you the feeling of the most thrilling journey. We enjoyed the beauty of several tea gardens at the hills’ slope. Hills are always beautiful because it has a distinctive beauty. When you see a hill covered with soft green leaves, you must be infatuated with the beauty of the ornaments scattered across the hills. We were passing through these tea gardens. After few minutes, we saw hills covered with pineapples plantation. The ripe yellow pineapples were loaded into pick-up van to carry them into market for sell. We stopped our auto-rickshaw and bought a couple of pineapples. The hilly pineapples were so tasty compared to their city counterparts. The auto-rickshaw took about an hour to reach our destination. The swamp forest is known as Ratargul to locals. We saw the random moving of locals; they were busy with their daily works.

We hired a traditional boat with paddle and started our new journey to explore the swamp forest. We were excited because we were going to enjoy a completely new spot, something we have never experienced. Two from the group have already visited the place before; their description and prior experiences made the forest more beautiful to us. The boatman requested us to keep silence because we do not want to bother the natural flora and fauna of the forest. I enjoyed the beauty of silence that day. No chaos there only the sound of fighting monkey and birds’ tweet, along with brief pauses of complete silence. We were surrounded by so many familiar and unfamiliar trees. The sky was gloomy and the forest was so calm. The reflection of gloomy sky on water makes the forest more attractive. We entered every single narrow channels of the forest. We were informed that the forest will submerged under 20 feet water during the low-tide. We were enjoying the beauty of this swamp forest and forgot to take any photo as a symbol of our memory at Ratargul. We were just amazed and speechless by the sheer beauty of Ratargul swamp forest. We met some local people at the middle of forest during the boat journey and we had a little chat with them.

When we returned at the boat station, we discover ourselves in a different location where we were not supposed to be, it was like the place has changed its face in the blink of an eye. We were sad that we had to leave the forest behind. We had no regret that we had no photos of the swamp forest. Then we returned to our hotel room. We took our bus that night and had been suffering a high fever but still I feel some extra attraction about Ratargul because of the unparallel beauty of the place and experience it gave me.

 

Md Abu Yousuf is a student of University of Dhaka.

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