The Sea, Sand and Some Coconut Trees......
11-12 August 2006
[Edited in August 2008 after my third visit to Kuakata in July 2008]
It was my first tour to this amazing place. Previously I had very little idea about Kuakata apart from the fact that it takes a long time to reach there. But thanks God that I wasn't deterred by this and made the journey to the full.
Against the Sunderbans……….
Many would miss the boat right under those scary clouds. It was in fact scary for me to find myself under the vast open sky threatening with a lot of rain. I was just wondering how the view would be from that boat! And this is no more than just a normal day-to-day even for there people. They are the braves of the sea.
This place is called Lebu Bagan and its on the western edge of Kuakata. Andharmanik river draws the line between the districts of Patuakhali and Barguna. The other bank of the river contains part of the great mangrove forest of the Sunderbans. There was a naturally formed canal on the approaches to the Andharmanik, which prevented me from seeing the real edge of the river.
A gloomy sunset………
I was on a rush returning from my visit to Lebu Bagan. The light was falling and rain clouds were right behind us, chasing at top speed. And on top of this, there was the threat of high tide, which was really closing my way back by devouring the beach. And there was the wind; the easterly. Its so strong that you would find a hard time standing absolutely still. I was on my knees, trying to get the required balance and I had to take several shots of this moment to get one that would be at least somewhat acceptable to me.
Waiting for the tide………
Right before noon. Fishing boats waiting on the beach for the right moment. When these boats were beached, the waterline was way back, but now the sea is almost reaching he parked boats!
The moment I reached Kuakata, I was greeted by the apparent non-existence of a beach! The waves were big and people were wasting themselves under those giant waves. It became apparent to me gradually that its the high tide that devoured the beach. And it was an unusually high tide, that’s what I was told by the locals. Perhaps it was the presence of a full moon that caused all these high tides. As the afternoon progressed, I was again surprised to find at the waterline retreated several hundred metres. I almost needed a binocular to make things out on the waterline!
The last of the Narikel Bagan.......
The coconut orchard of Kuakata is something of a decoration. But its under threat. Perhaps this is the effect of sea level rise. According to the locals, these coconut trees are more than 40 years old. The sea has not touched them in 40 years! But now the trees are slowly falling victims to the force of the waves. With each high tide some trees are falling.
This is everyday life of Kuakata. Fishermen scraping the coastline in search of tiny fish fries. This activity goes on all day, and almost in all seasons.
Building the dream house…………
Kuakata children learn their struggle from a very early age. But they like to play, just like any other children all over the globe. They love the sad, because it allows them to create things that they cannot do in real life.
A yellow sunset………..
I had many colours during sunset in many places. But yellow is a colour that I had never seen anywhere. This is the east horizon during sunset. The beach was wet and the clouds had yellow in them. So, this was the amazing result.
Beaming through the clouds.......01
It was Nature with her absolute purity. Soothing our hearts with heavenly beams out of those clouds.
Just imagine the view from that boat. It was near the estuary of the Andharmanik River. The other end of the Andharmanik contains part of the great Sunderbans.
When the sea wants to devour what it had created over millions of years, what can you say? The beaches of Kuakata are expanding everyday. The high ground beyond the beach is gradually becoming part of the beach. The people living closest to the seashore would bear the brunt of this. Global warming and sea level rise would affect these marginal people the most.
Beaming through the clouds.......08
A bunch of fishermen on the beaches of Kuakata collecting fish fries with their home-made nets.
Children bring beauty to any scene anywhere. The children of Kuakata live their life very close to their parents, who risk their lives everyday in search of a living. The moment the family elders return from their adventure, children rush to the scene, looking for their answers.
This is not a battleground. The sea a slowly devouring the coconut trees. They’re falling in numbers in everyday. At this rate of attrition, the coconut orchards are not likely to survive too long. Locals rush to the scene and cut out the tree trunks. The only things left then are the uprooted root section.
Beaming through the clouds.......09
Fishing boats staring into the heavens.
Even though this is the effect of severe sea erosion, the children of Kuakata are enjoying the big waves hitting the shore everyday.
Fishing boats parked on the beach are now not too far from the high tide.
The sunsets of Kuakata are spectacular indeed; at least they are during the rainy season. This is one of the few places on earth where you can see the sunset and the sunrise from virtually the same beach. I missed the sunrise this time because of bad weather, but the two sunsets in two days were spectacular to say the least.
This is everyday struggle for the fishermen of Kuakata. The big waves near the shore have to be overcome with subtle techniques. The boats are way too small for the force of those waves. But the fishermen depend on this risky trade for their livelihood.
Lines created on the beach by motorbikes. Motorbikes are basically the only means of quick transportation on the beaches of Kuakata. Most tourists go around the places on the numerous motorbikes, helped by their owner-cum-guides.
Boats on wheels is a common feature of Kuakata. Boats are parked on the beach using these wheels. The sea devours most of the beach during high tide, which forces the fishermen to take the boats as deep inside as possible.
The last coconut trees.......02
The last of the coconut trees, for sure. They would be history in no time. Somehow they’ve developed kind of animosity with the sea, and now they’re paying the price for it.
The crabs of Kuakata beach are real artists to be honest. They create different kinds of patterns on the beach and are very careful not to show themselves when there are people around. They are very elusive.
Motorcycle lines of the beaches of Kuakata.
Children bear witness to the wrath of the sea. One day way into the future they probably will recall their memories with these coconut trees. These trees are fast going into history.
A would-be philosopher? May be. They are the real future of Kuakata. The sea changes the landscape as it wishes, but the people of Kuakata have to adapt. These children learn this trade from their family. And they take those lessons to their heart. This is their driving force behind the quest for survival.