Everyone knows that Bangladesh is an overcrowded country and is losing greenery at an alarming rate to accommodate all these people in the cities. But still, as the overpopulation problem is more in cities, there still are some places where there are lush green fields and rivers and lakes -where we can run off to soothe our eyes from the fatigue of seeing traffic congestions and ears from hearing annoying noises that are parts and parcels of city life. I personally hate living in Dhaka city and love to take escapes close to nature.
Sylhet is one such place- with rolling tea gardens and lakes and quiet roads that pass through the tea estates. Myself, my hubby and three of our friends had taken a weekend trip to Sreemongol (a part of greater Sylhet) to spend some time away from the city. We started our journey early morning on the first day of the weekend. After having breakfast in Al-Razzak, famous restaurant of old Dhaka, we continued the nonstop journey. Once we reached outskirts of Sylhet, the driver of our microbus took us through a non conventional road that runs through a tea estate. It was a vast tea estate
with hills after hills covered in beautiful green tea trees, and among them were scattered tall rain trees. Men and women were working in the fields- some were plucking tea leaves, some were sitting under the shade of the tall trees, groups of children with schoolbags on their shoulders walked along the narrow road between hills. There was hardly any sound around us, the sky was little cloudy-just enough to block the excessive brightness of the midday sun on a hot summer day. Once in that road, all of us voted for a famous Tagore song to be played in the CD- the music and the surrounding quietness made us all go quite for the entire 20 minutes drive. I felt at peace.
We reached Sreemongol by midday- we had booked a bungalow in Bangladesh Tea Board resort. The resort was beautiful. It was actually a small hill, with 18-20 bungalows that were situated all the way from mid to top of the hill at certain distance from each other. There was a good driveway that led up to the top of the hill, with a parking space for each separate bungalow. The bungalows themselves were very comfortable with
at least 2 bedrooms, one living room, one store room, 2 washrooms, a dining hall and a veranda which overlooked the hills. The British style bungalow, surrounding green hills, blue sky, vibrant flowers in the garden, squirrels running from one branch of the tree to another, birds singing in the hot afternoon, a slow Tagore song playing in the background made the whole ambiance resemble one from a Tagore novel- I would say it was quite like Darjeeling in “Shesher Kobita” except for the hot weather.
Though it was a dilemma of whether to stay in bungalow and order food from the central dining hall and enjoy the resort or go out right away, we freshened up and started for Madhabpur lake which was about an hour’s drive from the resort. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant on our way and the food tasted fabulous- as it always does on journeys. It was around 3:30 pm when we reached the lake. The day was hot and humid and the time was such that there was no shade from the sun- the last traces of cloud had been wiped away from the sky. Sreemongol is the rainiest region in
Bangladesh and it’s most beautiful during rain; but while we were there, the weather was more similar to that of a desert! Though the timing was not perfect as per my comfort level (I do not like doing anything in such hot weather), but the beauty of the lake really made the visit worth.
If someone asks me what is special about this lake- I would have to answer “nothing”. It’s not blue, it’s not surrounded by snow capped mountains and pine trees, but it has a different kind of beauty. The lake is surrounded by small green hills where the green reflects on the water, there are many water lilies floating on the lake and the entire area is very quiet except for the occasional chirping of a bird or the noise of a woodpecker. That’s it. The beauty of this place probably lies in the quietness, the lake has not been commercialized by allowing boat rides or fishing, and there were very few visitors over there- that’s probably what made it so peaceful. This lake and the surrounding green hills beautified the hot and humid afternoon itself. We did nothing for an hour- we just sat on
the hill under tree shade and looked at the lake. We checked out frogs that had great camouflage, looked at beautiful lady birds. When the sun tilted to the west, we walked down the hill to the lake- it was beautiful all the way up and down.
The evening was spent at the resort- the tennis court was already occupied by another group when we returned from our afternoon trip so we hit the pool. Dinner was a simple affair that night at the central hall with regular set menu.
Next morning started early and in a lazy way. All we did after breakfast was we walked inside the resort- we smelled the flowers, played with “lojjaboti” plant and checked out weird insects. We also spent some quality time lazing in the bungalow veranda- listening to some Tagore songs, watching the squirrels playing in the trees and butterflies flying in the garden. We had also taken a short trip out after breakfast to explore the surrounding tea gardens. We had to start before midday as we planned to go to Sylhet town before heading back to Dhaka. The trip was short, but served its purpose- proximity to the
nature had rejuvenated all of us.
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