Hills and lakes, tribal glory and songs of nature – Rangamati in south-eastern Bangladesh is one word that inspires many images in the mind
Located in the Chittagong division of Bangladesh, Rangamati is surrounded by Tripura in the north, Bandarban in the South, Myanmar in the East and Chittagong in the West. Rangamati is, in fact, the only district in Bangladesh with two international borders – one with India and the other with Myanmar.
More than 52 per cent of the population of Rangamati is indigenous, home to communities such as Chakma, Marma, Assamese, Tripuri, to name a few. The remaining percentage of the population is non-indigenous. This southeastern paradise and arguably the largest district of the country was historically a fighting ground for the monarchs of Tripura and Arakan before being taken over by the Mughals. Chakma and other tribal communities settled in when a Chakma tribal leader took refuge with the Mughals.
Apart from the natural charm of the city and its people, Rangamati has a lot to offer its visitors. Be it food or tourism, homespun textiles or ivory jewellery, Rangamati packs a mighty touristy punch. Starting with the Kaptai Lake to the hanging bridge and the Kaptai National Park, Shuvolong Waterfalls and the iridescent Sajek Valley, Rangamati boasts natural beauty in abundance and is rightly termed an eco-tourism spot in the country.
Rangamati is also known as Lake City as it is right next to the Kaptai Lake. A man-made lake built in the 1960s, it was primarily built as a reservoir when the Kaptai Dam was built. The lake spans over an area of 11,000 km sq and was built by flooding the valleys and plain lands. These forest covered hills and valleys rise from beneath the water, painting a pleasing picture. As other scenic spots can also be seen while crossing the waterways, the Kaptai Lake Cruise Tours offered are worth taking.
A peaceful place in the Borokol sub-district, about 25 km from Rangamati, Shuvolong Falls has more than one waterfall to see. The largest of them, falling from almost 300 ft is a sight to behold. Access to a nearby market has made Shuvolong a popular tourist spot. The area is also easily accessible by speed boats or motor boats from Rangamati.
Open Sunday through Thursday, the Tribal Museum houses traditional apparels, ornaments, pottery and crafts, musical instruments, paintings, ancient statues, coins, etc. belonging to various tribes. The place is run by the Tribal Cultural Institute and was established in 1978.
The picturesque Hanging Bridge, spanning 335 ft across a section of the Kaptai Lake is a famous icon of Rangamati. For no reasons other than aesthetic, it draws large crowds every year and is thronged by tourists almost every season.
With an attractive mix of flora and fauna in the forest area, the Kaptai National Park attracts over 50,000 visitors per year. The walking trails across the green forest are the main reason for such a visitor turnout – the area is also conducive to trekking. Picnic spots and rest houses are available for use in this area.
Other attractions of Rangamati include the Rajban Bihar Pagoda, a Buddhist place of worship where the current principal monk still lives; Peda Ting Ting, an island very near to Rangamati known for its calm environment and comfortable accommodation facilities for tourists, and traditional to indigenous delicacies, the Chakma Royal Palace, which is open to public, and the local market with offerings such as local handicrafts, textiles and ornaments, all made by local people.
Best time to go
The best time to visit Rangamati is between October to February. The climate is cool and dry. However, if one is not opposed to a little bit of inconvenience of the rain, the full beauty of Rangamati might really be in monsoon when the lush greenery of the city is rain washed, the waterfalls are fuller and the heart is lighter. If you have been there, you must plan to go again. If you have not, you are in for a treat.