The Eternal Charm of Rangamati
Bangladesh has a popular image of being a land of rivers, with many low-lying areas prone to floods. While such impressions are not incorrect, they tend to put the hill resources of Bangladesh in the background. Bangladesh travel for the discerning can include visits to places such as Rangamati, which are delectable treasures of ecology and life at higher altitudes.
Chittagong is the world’s gateway to the fairy-tale climes of Rangamati. The drive from sea level to the elevation of Rangamati is just as pleasant as the destination. Endless rice paddy fields give way seamlessly to deciduous forest vegetation as your chauffeur starts shifting gears for the winding climb. These are rare sights even for the domestic population of Bangladesh, and hence the tourist traffic on the road is always heavy.
The generous buffet of luxuriant vegetation, which greets the eye on arrival at Rangamati, is most soothing after the bustle of Chittagong, and indeed of Dhaka as well, if you have started your journey from there. The intrepid can sight interesting birds, and have glimpses of other wild life as well, if they venture on the hiking trails along hill slopes. Do not expect well marked paths as you would find in the developed world, but the spirit of adventure is only enhanced by walking around without a clear destination!
A placid and picturesque lake offers a more sedate and laid back to hiking in the hills. You might thing that a water body would hold few attractions for citizens of a country with so many rivers, but the Kaptai is still a major draw for Rangamati tourists! Modern water sports appear somewhat out of place in the colonial surroundings of Rangamati, but boats with engines are not to be avoided on the lake.
The demographics of Rangamati are clearly different from that of the plains of Bangladesh. Unlike the lake, the local tribal community retains all of its ethnic charm. Colorful handicrafts are widely available at incredible prices, and can add class to any décor back home. The tribal jewelry is also worth collecting, though some of it may contain ivory. A Museum dedicated to tribal culture and their way of life, makes for an academic interlude to what will be a most relaxing interlude in Rangamati of every Bangladesh stay.