A Unique Journey to the Bandarban Hill District
The Bandarban Hill District in Bangladesh has been in existence since, and fell under, the rule of the fourteenth century Mru Kingdom. Today, the Bandarban Hill District occupies approximately 4 479 square kilometers of the southeastern region of Bangladesh. The region is also home to four magnificent mountain ranges, namely the Politai, Meranja, Tambang and the Wailatong. Even though the surrounding landscapes are impressive, it is the indigenous tribes that are resident in the area that are the greatest tourist attraction.
There are three hill enclaves that are populated by tribes, but of the three Bandarban and Rangamati have the largest populations of the Bawm tribes. There are approximately eleven to thirteen tribes that live in the Bandarban Hill District, including the Pangkhu, Marma, Chak, Lushei, Khumi and Tanchangya. The tribes live in small groups throughout the Bandarban Hill District and most of them are illiterate. They therefore depend on farming and other agricultural activities for an income. Most of the produce, such as fruits, bamboo, tobacco and cotton are primarily produced for local use in the villages, but some products are being exported from the Bandarban Hill District to other regions. They also live a very simple existence. Old traditions and cultures are adhered to, and settlements are primitive, making their lifestyle unique to Bangladesh. It is the originality of these tribes that makes them a popular tourist attraction.
The center of the Bandarban Hill District is the town of Bandarban. Here there is a harmonious mixture of the Moghs, devout Buddhists, and the Murangs who lure visitors with their legendary dances and traditional music. As with most of the tribes in the area, residents are friendly and peace loving – very fitting for the peaceful and calm surroundings that bring beauty and tranquility to the region. The town can be reached by bus and services to Bandarban run from Rangamati, Chittagong, Dhaka and Cox’s Bazaar. Just outside the town, in Balaghata, is the Buddha Dhatu Jadi Temple, which happens to be the largest of its kind in Bangladesh. Other attractions, in close proximity to Bandarban include the Buddha Statue, the Shoilo Propat Waterfall, Prantik Lake and the Rajvihar.
Tourists to the Bandarban Hill District are welcomed, but permission must be asked from the BPC Governmental department, as locals fear that a great number of tourists will eventually strip the region of the uniqueness and traditions that make this area fascinating and a part of Bangladesh’s heritage.