One of the greatest perks of working for WildTeam is the Noazesh Knowledge Center, the only conservation library in Bangladesh. A lot more than just a place to read and browse, NKC believes in practically inspiring people to celebrate nature. In the same spirit, from time to time WildTrips ( isn’t it a fun term?!) are arranged where a bunch of people from different age groups, occupations and talents journey together to a place of amazing natural beauty or zoological importance.
This August, a trip to ‘Tanguar Haor’ was arranged, and being a huge travel and photography enthusiast I jumped at the chance. Tanguar Haor is a vast wetland in Sunamganj district, covering almost 100 square kilometers! Not only is it the biggest natural fishery in the country, in winter this also provides a home to thousands of migratory birds. Tanguar Haor has been declared as a Ramsar site for being a wetland of international importance. (However, to be honest, I was most interested in gazing at the blue water that has tempted me for many years through countless photographs!)
So on August 22, complete with our sunhats, life jackets and cameras we began our journey towards Tanguar Haor. After a bus journey where it took us longer to navigate through Dhaka traffic than to reach Sylhet ( more than 250 kilometres away!), we reached Sunamganj at dawn. Breathing in the morning air free from pollution and noise – we climbed into our pretty aquamarine boat and were on our watery way!
In Rainy season, all the water bodies in Sunamganj merge together and form a great big basin of rivers, canals and other tributaries. On both sides children took baths on huge smiles in their faces, fishermen sat beside their nets patiently and colourful boats swam by. Birdwatching and bird photography were going on full swing, and NKC representatives offered snippets on the uniqueness of the ecosystem to the troopers from time to time. On the first day, our target was to meander through Tanguar Haor and reach ‘Tekerghaat’, a border village between India and Bangladesh.
The day was unusually sunny, which made the water of the Haor sparkle very prettily, but which also meant that we were literally burning inside our skins. Everyone was impatient to jump in the water and cool off, and eventually we found a place with half submerged Koroch trees and the swimming began, experienced swimmers showed off and the newbies lazily floated in their life jackets. We discovered the power of photographs as the prospect of having a souvenior photo of their daredevilry people performed rather astounding jumps from the boat!
Nearing Tekerghaat, none of us could have really prepared for the sight that awaited us. Looking down at the crystal water,it was like an underwater amazon was hidden beneath. Sudden flickering movement of fishes throwing off a rainbow coloured trail, the setting sun casting a warm glow to the secret garden – everyone was spellbound.
Tekerghaat in itself quite interesting, the beautiful hills of Meghalaya India is just a short walk away (taking the walk is sadly forbidden). There are lotus ponds and flocks of geese everywhere. The night flew away in gossiping together and anticipating the next day.
The next morning began with fresh Khichuri with steamed eggs on the boat, and we wondered why any ordinary food tastes better on a boat ! As our boat moved onwards, the beautiful sight of Jadukata river came into view. ‘Jadukata’ literally means a place where spells are broken;on us it had the opposite impact, because the tranquil water of the river was leaving us spellbound. From a distance, the clouds surrounding the mountains seemed like a promise of heaven, the water was every possible shade of blue and the sand shined like cut glass. The only hill Bangladesh received from the Meghalayan range is Barikkatila. We climbed on top, had our lunch at a local indigenous household and enjoyed the refreshing green everywhere.
From the top, the view of the river below was even more breathtaking, and everyone was sorry when the time to leave came. For the return journey, as the mountain view shrunk slowly, it was like everyone was leaving a realm of enchantment – and the magic land of Jadukata was finally behind us.
As the sun set, under a sky ablaze with crimson and gold, I marveled once again at how beautiful the world was, and how easy it is to be perfectly content when you are at one with nature.