As monsoon is in the air, we decided to celebrate this Eid-ul-fitr on the peaks of Keokradang, the second highest peak of Bangladesh. The hilly landscape welcomed us on July 28, morning, as we, including a music band from Rangamati, hired a jeep from Bandarban to Ruma Bazar.
We soon set off for Boga Lake after some essential shopping at Ruma. The serpentine beauty of Sangu River charmed us at the bosom of the valley. Due to rain, we trekked for two hours to reach the lake. With the sun setting behind the hills and the glow diffused all around Komola Bazar, we trekked another half an hour through a narrow, dangerous path. My joy knew no bounds when I saw the lake under a starry night. Crickets were buzzing all around.
We bathed in the lake and feasted on chicken barbeque. Chakma songs were being sung, and it was merriment galore. I marveled at the size of the lake and its magnificent view as I enjoyed a serene morning, surrounded by untainted natural beauty.
Boga Lake, a natural sweet water deep lake, is nearly 2,000 feet above sea level. Although geologists say it was created by a collection of rain water in the crater of a dead volcano almost 2,000 years ago, local folklore has it that the lake was created after the inhabitants of a Khumi village killed and ate a deity, who reappeared in the form of a dragon. An ensuing earthquake caved the hillside; the village disappeared and formed the lake.
The colour of the lake changes at different times depending on sunlight, humidity and clouds. It's enclosed on three sides by mountain peaks, and spans over 18 acres. The main source of water is a small spring named Boga chhara that supplies crystal clear water.
The lake attracts tourists because of its scenic beauty but it is inaccessible by any means of transport. Only those who take the trouble of walking through the hilly bushes can visit the lake.
Exploring Keokradang was a joyous adventure on Eid Day. We started for it in the morning, and on our way, feasted on pineapples, papayas and bananas, and bathed and drank from a spring.
It was a three-hour walk from Boga Lake, but the trek was relatively easier. Upon reaching Darjeeling Para (the second most elevated habitation of Bangladesh), we relaxed and wandered around the shops. After that, only half an hour's walk took us to the peak. I, together with a Chakma friend first stepped on the pinnacle of Keokradang. What an exciting scene!
We witnessed the sun setting while trekking down from Keokradang. In the monsoon sky, shades of crimson bursts over the crest of azure! We walked to the sound of crickets' buzzing as night fell in the middle of the stony path.
We returned to Boga at 8pm. The next morning, we set out for the Nilgiri Hill Resort on a fascinating jeep ride through the winding hilly highway with charming changes of greenery. With the clouds floating beneath, I felt like a blissful skylark appeasing its thirst in the clouds.
At Nilgiri, the blue sky is filled with black-white clouds from the Bay of Bengal, where a beautiful game of light and shadow continues all day long.
As reluctant as we were to leave, we headed to Bandarban, and went straight to the Swarna Mondir (The Golden Temple, a Buddhist prayer-house) to soak in the setting sun and golden glow reflected onto the surface of the temple. Before we bid adieu to Bandarban, we took a dip in the Sangu River and feasted on the traditional food of the Marma community.
Trekking refreshes the mind and subsequently, increases meditating power. Bandarban is a heaven for natural beauty and we hope to carry on with our mission of “Trekking Tajingdang” in the upcoming winter.
Photo: Darshan Chakma / Saurav Dey