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    Friday, January 16, 2009

    TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Landscape of Dreams
    09-10 January 2009
    TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, Bangladesh

    Its really difficult to describe how beautiful our country is, unless someone takes the time off to explore. I had been fortunate enough to see such beauty many a times. But sometimes that fortunate feeling becomes pale and you begin to ask yourself, “what have I been doing all these years?” This is exactly what happened to me a few days ago, when I managed some time to pay a visit to Tanguar Haor in Sunamganj. The tour was organized by “Through the Lens: Bangladesh” (TTL) group of Flickr. Though it was a group venture, full credit went to Shudipto, the actual planner and organizer. The thanks should be particularly well-directed, since this is one tour which I categorized as the best journey of my life. And mind you, this was not understatement. Tour memories would continue to excite me in many many years to come.

    When the idea of going to Tanguar Haor came to my mind, to be honest, I was a bit shaken. It wasn’t just the prospect of an extraordinary tour, it was also the potential difficulty of the journey that made to think forward. But these difficulties didn’t keep me from entering my name in the list. I mean, why should I expect an extraordinary tour if the journey is ordinary? And that’s exactly what the journey was; anything but the ordinary.

    On the 8th night, we started to gather at Kakrail to board the bus for Sunmganj. The 10:15PM bus was about to pick 15 of us. The original number of tour members was much higher than this. More than 20 people registered for the tour, but only 16 ultimately managed to finish the tour. One of us, Mahbub Bhai, had already reached Sunamganj; he was supposed to greet us there in the early morning.

    The journey started timely enough. The road mostly had clear weather apart from some sporadic fog. The big moon was shining on us and we never felt bored. It was the Ashura Day on the 8th. And after a long day with the Ashura processions, I was feeling it in my toes. After midnight, as soon as I started to drool a bit, we arrived at a place in Habiganj for a scheduled break in the journey. It was cool actually, as we celebrated the birthday of Nurur Bhai with pudding!

    We arrived at Sunamganj before the clock hit 4:00AM. 16 people walking on the road in the early hours of the day with big backpacks isn’t a regular site at a small far-away district town. But there weren’t too many to watch us. That wasn’t exactly a big disappointment, since we would have enough time to attract enough attention from the local audience. Mahbub Bhai greeted us at a local hotel, which wasn’t exactly 5-star quality, but it sufficed for a short rest. We had a bit of a scare about cold weather before we reached there. But the concerns faded away quickly as we found the cold quite manageable.

    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Hason Raja's memories.........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Paint my sky..........01


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Just like a war monument!!


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Hope waits for you.........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    First glimpse from Monipuri Ghat.........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Boats at Monipuri Ghat.........



    We freshened up after a short rest and finished our breakfast at a restaurant below the hotel. We went for legendary folk-artist Hason Raja’s residence nearby. But we were there a bit too early may be. The only thing we could photograph was the outer gate of the complex. The place was just on the Surma River. We were supposed to board a boat that would take us to Monipuri Ghat. This is where the real journey began; it was around 8:15AM. Morning sun was shining on the quiet river. But it was a bit cloudy. Light clouds filled up the winter sky and created some sort of a carpet all over. If everyone was worried too much about the dull winter sky, there was the answer. Cameras started to make sound; different manufacturers; different sounds. Locals traveling with us were wondering—where on earth these people come from? We quickly entered a canal and headed north. The scenery was breathtaking. This short journey just showed us what is awaiting us. Small boats on the river showed the uniqueness of the place. People on the eastern bank produced interesting silhouettes. All along the canal people waived at us, which was going to be a usual scene all throughout our journey.

    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Dreamscape..........01


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Living in a dreamland with dreams.........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Dreamscape..........02


    We reached Monipuri Ghat by around 8:45AM. 16 motorbikes were staring at us there! It was some sight! One by one we boarded the bikes and off we went. The second phase of the journey began. This was a rugged “bad-to-the-bone” ride! Like a gang of “wild hogs” we were painting the surrounding land with dust! The road wasn’t as dusty as we had imagined, for the time being. By around 9:20AM we reached a place where we could see farmers working and cattle grazing in the backdrop of the bluish Meghalaya hills. We stopped. We took our time to wonder at the scenery and to take some photos.

    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Joy of freedom...........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Boats on the Lauer Doga River...........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Expectation..........


    By around 10:00AM we were off once more. The destination was Laurer Garh Bazar on the River Lauer Doga. We reached there by around 10:20AM. This was one heck of a beautiful place. The river was flowing with virtually no current. It was filled with crystal clear water, which reflected the surrounding hills like a perfect art! The river was a bit less than complete dry. We even saw some people crossing the river on foot with their shoes in the hands! The whole river was something of a quarry for gravel and sand. People and boats were at work all over the place; though it was a holiday. We heard that weekdays produce a lot more people there.

    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Dreamscape..........03


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Just another day.........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Solid vs. liquid.........


    We snapped away. The sun was shining hard and we had to take off our extra clothing.
    But the water wasn’t so warm. Some took the chance to wet their feet in the chilly water. Local children were playing in that water and having a nice break from a tough life. We stayed there for almost two hours and then decided to cross the river. There were some shallow boats ferrying people and motorcycles across. While we were crossing, we could see our reflections on the gravel under water. Water level was very shallow indeed, except some places where one could actually see and judge the depth of water.

    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Pick-a-boo!!....... Khashia Village, Laurer Garh Bazar


    We were hungry. So, on the other bank, at Laurer Garh Bazar, we took some refreshments and moved up the shallow hillock on the western bank of the river. The view from the hillock was breathtaking indeed. Unfortunately we had too short a time to be able to enjoy that brilliant view. It was around 1:00PM. We went down the hillock in motorcycles and waited for a wee bit of time at a Khashia village. Time became important. We were supposed to have our lunch at Tekerhat. And couldn’t delay the journey by too long. We proceeded.

    Now this part of the journey would remain in my memory as something that my camera missed, but my eyes didn’t. We sped along the Bangladesh-India border area where the native Khashia villages at the foot of the Meghlaya hills presented breathtaking scenery. I had already packed my camera in expectation of severe dust. But now I was thinking the other way. At least, my eyes didn’t miss them.

    After this short motorcycle journey, we reached Tekerhat. We completed our lunch there at a local street-side restaurant. Though the presentation standards of the restaurant weren’t equal to what most of us were used to, we still enjoyed it. We didn’t take a very long pause before we moved on once more. Shudipto was always keeping schedules very efficiently. He knew what amount of time where could affect the overall timing of the journey.

    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Boats on the Pantai River..........01 (Sripur)


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Living under the arch......... this boy handles coal that comes on board big boats...


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Boats on the Pantai River..........02



    So, the dusty ride began. And it was dusty. The previous leg wasn’t even nearly as dusty as this one. We had to take some protection. We were heading south now. By around 2:30PM, we were on the bank of yet another river at Sripur. This river, which is know as the Pantai Gang or Patnai River, had a series of big boats decorating both banks. I noticed one thing that boats here were somewhat bigger than what I had seen in other parts of the country. And they were strongly built too. May be the tough demands of the rainy season justified the strength of their construction. We crossed the river on similar boats that we had seen on the Lauer Doga River. Another attraction of this place was some gulls. They were making a lively display of their hunting skills. We tried to catch a glimpse of their activity. It took almost half-an-hour for our whole team to cross the river.

    We were off again by around 3:00PM. The next leg of the motorbike journey should be called “dust king”!! Yes! Dusty is was! The road became so dusty at some places that there seemed nothing in front of us! In the first leg of our motorbike journey, we painted the surroundings with dust. And now, the road painted us with dust!! Once we reached our ultimate destination at Tahirpur by around 3:40PM, we discovered what we went through. We almost turned white with dust! All our hair turned grey and we looked like old men! We could hardly believe this transformation.

    At Tahirpur, Shudipto had arranged a nice staying place for us. A foreign-funded social project had an office there and we could stay the night there. We gave the motorbikes a final goodbye. And what a journey it was. Now we could feel the toil of the journey. The whole road was far from being uniform and one could easily image how hard the life there would be if someone didn’t have or could afford a motorbike ride.

    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Idle times......... Little Cormorants at Shonir Haor, Tahirpur


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Coming back home............01


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Basking under the setting sun...........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Coming back home............02


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Coming back home............03


    We took some badly-needed shower and began to prepare for the last light of the day. Tahirpur was right on the edge of Shonir Haor. We proceeded there by around 4:30PM. Just like most other wetlands, Shonir Haor was mostly dry in this season. There were paddy fields all over the place. The sun was about to leave us under that green surface. A big family of cormorants were drying their wings on some branches. Kingfishers and black drongos were not that lazy. Egrets were saying goodbye to the sun and returning home in large groups. We were about the see the eternal beauty of our land. It was a beautiful sunset. The large ball of red went down as hard-working people went back from their fields and streams. Thoroughly enjoyed the event until the last moment. The big moon was also rising from the east; completing the whole canvas. Local children flocked around us and made curious subjects out of them. By around 5:30PM, we were back to our staying place.

    It was now time to calculate the achievements for the day. I was already terming this journey as a memorable one. The whole bike ride around that magnificent landscape was nothing less than breathtaking. The lure of the Meghalaya hills, the crystal clear water and reflections on the Lauer Doga River, the Khashia villages on the foot of Meghalaya hills, the line of boats on the Patnai River—they all added up. And the dusty ride, local food, and our friendship filled in. It was already complete.

    We spent the evening at local restaurants at Tahirpur and really began to feel the pain of the journey. This kind of journey following an overnight journey by bus would put anyone to bed. We tried to survive until we could finish our dinner. Some of us even went out for one last photographic venture in the dark. But I, along with some others, were dead on the bed. Our target was to wake up at 4:00AM. So, some rest was more than necessary. Others lasted more and had a lot of fun that night, which I only heard in the morning! I sure had a sound sleep. Lucky me!

    We woke up as we planned. We were off for the boat by around 5:00AM. The sun was far from the horizon. It was dark. The huge moon was going down on the canal. We boarded a big motorboat and made ourselves comfortable. Tried to take a bit of a nap before the real action began. By around 5:25AM, started the third phase of our journey—boat ride.

    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Not yet the beginning.........01 (Tanguar Haor)


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Not yet the beginning.........02


    Shudipto shouted, “wake up if you wanna see sunrise!” and off we went! We all jumped up and mostly positioned ourselves on the roof of the boat. The sun hadn’t yet showed up, but the horizon was showing its colours. And where were we? Is this what we call Tanguar Haor? Yes it is! The landscape changed completely over the last one hour or so. And what a landscape it was! We were heading through a canal that had high banks decorated with almost continuous range of trees. These are “Hijal” trees, which can survive even if they’re inundated half way. They survive during the long wet season this area goes through. There were massive wetlands beyond the other side of the high but narrow riverbanks. And there were hundreds of birds floating on those wetlands. The sound of our boat made them fly in their hundreds. It was a magnificent sight.

    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Sunrise at Tanguar Haor.........01


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Sunrise at Tanguar Haor.........02


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Sunrise at Tanguar Haor.........03


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Sunrise at Tanguar Haor.........04


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Sunrise at Tanguar Haor.........05


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Sunrise at Tanguar Haor.........06


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Early morning fishing at Tanguar Haor.......01


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Early morning fishing at Tanguar Haor.......02


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    And there they go!!


    Those high banks with their “Hijal” trees followed snake-like patterns through an endless stretch of wetland. And there came the sun. The red ball was slowing making its way up revealing even more beauty of this fantastic landscape. We were dumbfounded! It wasn’t just an opportunity to shoot some superb landscapes, but to experience something with our own eyes that would remain in our memory for a lifetime. Sporadic fishing boats were there, along with some large freighters. Birds flying all around us made the scene vibrant. Migratory ducks flocked at places and flew together on sight of our boat. Gulls, herons, cormorants and egrets were making their best attempts to attract our attention. Terns and drongos were also making their mark. But the migratory waterfowls took the show. They were there in some numbers and their vibrant colours made the place attractive. The sound of their flying together is something to remember.

    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Pond Heron in flight..........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Little Cormorant (Pankouri) in flight........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    You can run, but you can't hide!!.......... (A flock of Little Grebe)


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Colours of Nature........... (A flock of Pheasant-tailed Jacana)


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Swooping down.......... (A flock of Pheasant-tailed Jacana)


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Just a white spot........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    In "V" formation.......... (Red-crested Pochard)


    We now reached a vast “beel” and slowly moved in there from the canal. It was around 7:30AM. The beauty of this vast piece of wetland is beyond description. The water was crystal clear. The whole beel was full of algae. These algae were easily visible because of the clear water. We could see our own shadows on the algae and the ground under the water. The Meghalaya hills were still visible in the distance. The hills provided the backdrop for a complete beauty. We were stunned! I took time off from my lenses too frequently, so that I can say that my eyes had seen those. Why should only my lenses be lucky? I should let my God-gifted lenses the chance to marvel at that scenery.

    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Morning lights............ (Striated Grassbird)


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Against that dreamscape........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Life goes on.........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Off she goes!!............ (Striated Grassbird)



    We slowly moved in and tried to proceed without our engines. But there was always a limit to the closeness we could achieve. They all would fly together in a massive swarm. We needed something different. By around 8:20AM, we landed and began to explore. There were some birds making the bushes vibrant. We chased them for a while with our cameras. Shudipto came up with the ultimate idea—taking a small boat to go closer to the birds. By around 9:00AM, we managed several boats and some of us took the opportunity. Each boat could carry two of us.

    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    They painted the sky with their wings!!


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    They knew we were coming!!


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    They really filled the sky!!


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Hanging business!!........ (Probably Greenish Warbler)


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Flying with grace......... (Spot-billed Duck)


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    King of the swamps......... (Still not clear about its ID)


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    And who told you I didn't see you coming??......... (Purple Swamphen)


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Watchful eyes.......... (Brahminy Kite)


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    I can see my house from here!!........ (Purple Heron)


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    She's got the longest wings!!......... (Purple Heron)


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Now, those legs are long!!........ (Purple Swamphen)


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    In celebration of life.........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Taking off from a wet runway!!........ (Red-crested Pochard and Coot)


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Making waves with wings!!........ (Brown-headed Gull)


    We moved into the bird territory! There they were. In the hundreds. Floating on the water. We went quite close until they made a huge noise with their collective flight. It was something to see. What a magnificent sight! We moved in further until we reached the other bank of the beel. There were more birds there. We skimmed the banks and took photos of the birds from as close a distance as possible. We kept as quiet as possible; still there was a limit to what distance we could achieve. We could identify quite a few bird species there. Not being a birder, me and my boat-mate Nayan Bhai were concentrating on taking pictures. For ID of the birds, we would depend on the experts. But we sure had a field day shooting birds!

    We came back from the boat-ride by around 10:45AM. And by around 11:00AM, we packed and off we went. This was the end of the magnificent Tanguar Haor birding trip. This would be in our memory for long long time. Actually our mind didn’t want to leave. It would’ve been better if we could spend even more time with the birds. We became captivated by the scene.

    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    A typical haor day..........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Take-off!!......... (Little Cormorant)


    Another leg of the boat journey began. We again started our travel through canals. Now we could see the activity of more people. We could watch the life around this haor area. This is truly Bangladesh. Lucky that I made the trip! Something that I said too often during the whole tour.

    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Curves of the land.......... (Sulemanpur Bazar)


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Bathing..........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Sun-shades...........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Its election times.........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Close encounter!!


    By around 12:20PM, we reached Sulemanpur Bazaar. This was where we were supposed to have our lunch. The place was a true village bazaar. We looked around and had a glimpse of the local life. We had our lunch there and had an idea about the purchasing power of the local people, which I’m afraid to say, didn’t look too high. This is an area where only one crop is produced throughout the year, whereas other parts of the country produces 2/3 crops per year. During most of the year, the ground remains under water.

    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Daily trdes........... (Khanamoia Canal)


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    A lonely walk...........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Everyone works.......


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    White plane......... (Great Egret at Khanamoia Haor)


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Black plane......... (Great Cormorant at Khanamoia Haor)


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Windows of hope..........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    These are bird-cages!!


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    A maze of bamboos........ (Baulai River)



    By around 2:45PM, we ended our stay at Sulemanpur Bazar. We moved through yet more canals. Canals and rivers are the integral part of life here. Even if canals and rivers are mentioned too often, their names aren’t the easiest to remember. Khanamoia Canal took us to Khanamoia Haor. There were more birds there. Egrets, herons and cormorants were in abundance. The canal banks were crossed by locals with their daily trades as well as their grazing cattle. We also went past Hasanpur Village on our left. The village fa├žade was enough to provide us with a contrast against the calm surroundings. This canal led us to the Baulai River, which happens to be the most important river in that region. Many commercial boats were crossing our boat from the south. We could see the sun leaning on the horizon on our right. The river was full of activities. Fishing villages were accompanied by fishing nets of various kinds along the riverbanks. There were some small boats being towed by boatmen on foot against the tide. This is not seen too often these days due to heavy use of motor engines.

    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Portrait of a bird..........01 (Green Bee-eater)


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Portrait of a bird..........02 (Green Bee-eater)


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    White fruits??



    By around 4:00PM, we suddenly noticed a huge flock of egrets on a bunch of trees. The tree tops became white with the egrets! We anchored our boat to have a look. That tree was actually on the other end of a large beel. And the beel was full of waterfowls. We could also see a single Purple Heron flying over there. Another tree close to us was full of Asian Pied Starlings. Then the surprise struck us. We were very close to a family of green bee-eaters (shui chora). Me and Nurur Bhai moved in very carefully to see them from a close distance. And we did. We shot the birds with big lenses from barely 15 feet away! They were almost like modeling in front of us. We wanted to capture them flying, but their speed and very short flying distance disappointed us. After a while we gave up and boarded the boat once again. It was around 4:25PM.


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Afternoon walk............


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Everyone travels..........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    This is called "Godhuli"........01 (Go=Cattle + Dhuli=Dust; referring to the time when cattle go home rasing dust in the air)


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    This is called "Godhuli"........02


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    White dots on a misty land........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Sunset on the Baulai River..........01


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Sunset on the Baulai River..........02


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Sunset on the Baulai River..........03


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Sunset on the Baulai River..........04


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Sunset on the Baulai River..........05


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Man under the moon......... Moonrise on Baulai River....



    This last leg of our boat journey was culmination of a fantastic voyage. We watched the sunset more than we shot it. Yet, we ended up clicking a huge number of snaps. We simply couldn’t snap enough. Shepherds were taking their cattle home under the glowing sun. Farmers were returning home from their fields. The moon was also rising on our left. We turned right once and then turned left! This is when I was shaking my head in disbelief—what a beautiful country it is! And what a crime I’ve committed not coming here for so long. I was singing a song in my mind:

    “Emon deshti kothao khuje pabe nako tumi
    sokol desher rani she je amar jonmobhumi
    she je amar jonmobhumi.”

    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Misty evening...........


    From TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    Moonrise over Jaysree Bazar........


    I was speechless! I shot away until I was out of disks in my camera. It was an utter joy. It was heaven on earth! Our boat went on until the sun was under the horizon and the canals around the river were full of misty air. We reached Jaysree Bazar by around 5:20PM. This was the end of a truly memorable boat journey. Without a shadow of doubt, the best I’ve made in my life so far.

    At Jaysree Bazar we had some refreshments and waited for Shudipto’s next directive. We came to know that we ran into some sort of a trouble. We were supposed to ride in another 16 motorcycles to reach Mohanganj in Netrokona district. But it was the time for local government elections. The campaigners took most of the motorcycles available in the area. Now we were left with no more than 6 motorcycles. This was the time to apply some common sense and logic. We had our bus from Mohanganj for Dhaka. And to reach Mohanganj in time, we needed to utilize our time as efficiently as possible. We squeezed 11 people in 6 bikes and 5 of us proceeded in rickshaws. I was in one of the rickshaws.

    This was no ordinary road journey. This road was a dusty road through a barren dried haor. The only thing in favour was the moon. It was almost full moon and the visibility was very good indeed. There was no fog either. We could perfectly see the ruggedness of the road, which forced us to walk alongside our rickshaw quite a few times. And did I say it was a barren land? We could find one big “Hijal” tree there in the midst of that low-lying dried-out “ocean”! Now I could imagine why Shudipto was talking of crossing this stretch of land under daylight conditions. And also, imagine the condition without the moon in the sky and mist in the air! How dark it would be in such conditions, only the Almighty knows!

    There seemed to have been an attempt to build a highway there, probably from Mohanganj to Sunamganj. But the condition of the embankments protecting the road didn’t seem to invite confidence. The big concrete slabs capitulated in front of the massive force of Nature. They were pulverized in most places. After a long rickshaw journey, we reached Dharmapasha, an Upazila town. This was the end of Sunamganj district. We met some of our bikers returning from Mohanganj to pick us up. They took us from there, ending the role of the rickshaws. The motorcycles raced us to Mohanganj within another 20 minutes. But the rickshaw journey seemed much safer and definitely more comfortable.

    After this extraordinary night road journey, we all reached Mohanganj by around 8:15PM. Those who reached earlier, had the chance to fill their stomach a bit at a local restaurant. But it was very important to move on. A four-hour journey would put us in Dhaka after half past midnight, making the way home difficult. So we rushed. Shudipto had already arranged a whole bus for us alone! We were only 16 people on board! We reigned over the wheels for as long as we could sustain ourselves. We celebrated the emphatic journey and had a lot of fun. Then we went to sleep God knows when! We were dead tired. We reached Dhaka by around 1:00AM. It was a safe journey home for all of us. The end was well and good.

    I was thinking and kept on thinking. What a journey it was! We can boast in front of others—we had seen the beauty of Bangladesh! I would want to make that journey once again.

    Note: This blog contains some of the images from the tour. For more photos, please visit the whole gallery at:
    TTL Safari: Tanguar Haor, Sunamganj, January 2009

    10 comments:

    1. Masha-Allah! a big post on the Safari III! You really got great landscape and the wild photos! :)


      Loved it! :D

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    2. as i could not find any words to comment about ur text and picture....let me just give you a thanks :)

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    3. Sharif vai.....this is simply mind blowing!!!

      Congrats brother for such an outstanding documentation and images. You are unique!

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    4. Bangladesh is a beautiful country truly represents the beauty of nature, people, culture, tradition, and history. You definitely deserve appreciation of your continuous effort to present this beauty to the world living in the cyberspace.

      Shaheen (Nielsen)

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    5. GOOOOOOOD
      THANKS FOR SHARING
      DANIEL CHEN
      CHEN_ZHONGBEI@HOTMAIL.COM
      WWW.CHENZHONGBEI.SPACES.LIVE.COM

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    6. i could relate to the story and images of the haor. i've been to sunamganj few times, and mostly in the direction of Derai, and not Tangua haor.
      amazing photography and narration, kudos to you.

      Mishael, CARE Bangladesh

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    7. how come i missed the post.......
      this is ultra superb man !!!!

      the tour was handful of birdings, landscapes, people and life what not....missing this tour will burn me for long.......

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    8. w0w feeling so xcited to go there .... just beautifull

      hope it will help me a lot ........

      thanks 4 sharing Sharif vai .......

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    9. Sharif Bhai, No words to explain how I'm feeling after reading this blog post. Struck in a dilemma about what should I praise - your writing skills or about your photography!

      Simply Speechless . . .

      ReplyDelete