Saturday, June 25, 2016

Hidden Treasures of Bangladesh

Rainul Islam

We often hear people proclaim the richness of the natural beauty of our country but have you ever wondered why? Sure, you’ve visited the long shores of Cox’s Bazar, trekked to the heights of Keokradong and peaked through the lovely clean waters of Saint-Martin. But to limit ourselves to the mainstream is to grossly under-sell the natural beauty of our country. Today, we invite your attention to some of the lesser known and /or lesser traveled destinations of Bangladesh which deserve just as much love, admiration and acclaim as its more popular counterparts.



Often hailed as the “Niagra Falls” of Bangladesh, Nafakum Waterfall is one of the largest and most gorgeous waterfalls in the country. Despite its jaw-dropping beauty, however, Nafakum is also amongst one of the lesser ventured destinations due to the relatively extreme journey that it demands from would-be travelers.
For instance, for someone traveling from Dhaka the journey would be something like this: an 8-hour bus journey to Bandarban followed by another 3-4 hours bus journey to Thanchi where travelers would need to take permission from the BGB and enter their contact details for safety reasons. Thereafter, you would need to hire engine-boat(s) for the exploratory journey to Remarki through giant rocks dispersed in the Sangu River. At this point, travelers are well-advised to spend the night here at the hospitable local tribal houses before continuing their journey to Nafakum early next morning which will include hours of walking and trekking too.
Clearly, the journey is a major obstacle for many interested in travelling but this is also what puts Nafakum, along with Amiakhum, at the top of our list of Hidden Treasures of Bangladesh. The water is still clean and the nature still innocent of manly interventions, and quite frankly, the journey itself is worth it for the more hardcore travel-enthusiasts.

As a bonus for those who dare to take the aforementioned journey, you will be rewarded with the equally enticing scenery of Amiakhum which is also situated in Bandarban, near Myanmar border.

Notable Mentions:
·         Jadipai: also situated in Bandarban; the water is transparent and on a lucky day, you may be blessed with the awe-striking view of a rainbow forming at the bottom of the fall
·         Richang Waterfall (often pronounced “Risang”): located in Khagrachori, Chittagong; relatively easy to get to and covered in more greenery than the other waterfalls on the list.



Ratargul Swamp Forest, located in Sylhet, is the only swamp forest in Bangladesh. The forest can dive as deep as 30 feet under water during monsoon and usually sits at about 10 feet deep in other seasons.
It is the creation of a surreal marriage between a freshwater swamp and an almost poetic forest of Koroch trees “growing” out of the cool, clean water. Admittedly, the forest has become more famous in recent years but with its unparalleled capacity to provoke one’s senses, we felt it was too big a risk to leave it out in case the reader hasn’t visited this luscious forest yet.


Located in Teknaf of Cox’s Bazar District, and on the banks of the Naf River, it is the only game reserve in Bangladesh and a truly bio-diverse one at that. The sanctuary comprises an area of an astounding 11,615 hectares and boasts a number of attractions, none more so than the opportunity to see wild elephants in all their magnificence and the Kudum Cave, which harbours two different species of bats and is often known as the “Bat Cave.” Additionally, the destination has a plentiful plant-life, a wide species of birds and activities including hiking trails varying in terms of length and difficulty.



Much like Nafakum Waterfall above, Boga Lake really is one of the must-visit places yet quite a challenge to get to as well. In fact, it is inaccessible by any means of transport. For those who take the trouble to take the uncomfortable steps to this destination, however, awaits glad tidings indeed. It is unquestionably one of the most beautiful destinations on the list with its heavenly view that’s soothing both to the eyes and the heart. The lake is bounded by lush greenery, hills, cliffs and rocks. It is a perfect place for nature or peace lovers to stay overnight, watch stars, read books or share ghost stories, especially in light of a famous legend about the very birth of the lake.


Also known as the China Clay Hills, its main attractions are the ceramic hills beside the water that culminate into possibly the most picturesque destination on the list. Those into water travels will also appreciate the chance to row-boat along the Someshwari River.
Unfortunately, though, all things worth having (or visiting in this case) do not come easy; this particular place is as remotely located as being near the Indian border itself.


You hear Chittagong and beach – what do you think about? Cox’s of course. While Cox’s, St. Martin and Teknaf rightfully attract more tourists we feel the naval beach (dockside) in Chittagong is also worth a quick visit. The main attractions here include three distinct parts of the beach each giving quite a different feel than the others. The abundance of hair-floating breeze that makes for great selfies and the thumb-sized local piyajus are alone enough to regularly attract a swarm of young adults every Friday.

Notable Mentions
·         Shitalakshya River, Demra: the main attraction is the short trip from the center of Dhaka. It’s easy to rent out professional tour guides who will take you on a private cruise with delicacies including fish grilled on the boat itself. It makes for a perfect get-away or celebration of something dear with a large group.
·         Floating Rice Market, Barisal: technically not a tourist spot but worth a mention nonetheless.



Reminiscent of the iconic monkey temple in Jungle Book, the famous Rajbari is one of the oldest Zamindar palaces in Mymensingh. While some may find it undesirable that a large portion of the complex is not properly maintained, it is the lack of proper maintenance that makes it a must-visit destination for anyone with a taste for unadulterated history and culture.
Sweetening the destination further, quite literally, is the renowned Gopal Pali Prosida Monda Sweet Shop – home to what are probably the best monda sweets in the entire country.


Shaped like a man-made underground passage, Alutila is the longest natural cave in Bangladesh stretching about a 100 meters in length. It is enclosed by deep green forests all-round and is rocky, slippery and blindingly dark inside.
Perhaps not for the feint hearted but makes a great choice for the brave and adventurous looking for a different experience.

What’s your favourite hidden destination of Bangladesh? Is it something that falls outside the list above? If so, please write to us in the comments section and let your fellow travelers know too.

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