At 7:30 am one day last week I found myself in Sunamganj town waiting for Biplob, who was going to be the guide on my trip to Jadukata. His familiarity with the area came from his work with several NGOs there. My earlier conversations with him had revealed the motorcycle as the best way to reach Jadukata. I had picked my camera gear carefully to minimize weight, placed it all in my backpack, and tied my tripod with a bungee cord. Within a few minutes of his arrival, I had balanced myself and backpack on the motorcycle's passenger seat.
I first heard about Jadukata from my relative working at BanglaLink. Shumon told me it is a beautiful spot in Sunamganj district where BanglaLink commercials were made. Since it was hard to reach, I needed a guide. After making some calls, my friend Zahin Bhai connected me with Biplob.
Why the motorcycle? That's because there is neither bridge nor ferry across the Surma river in Sunamganj. The river runs along the edge of this town, home of famed songwriter Hason Raja. You can come to Sunamganj by car from Sylhet, which is to the east. However, if you want to proceed west of the town, you have two choices: cross the river by ferry and ride on a motorcycle on the other side, or travel by boat down the river. The latter was how I reached Tanguar Haor last year; however, today I opted for motorcycle to save time.
When we drove to the river Ghat, the early morning commute was in full swing. Several boats plied the river carrying workers into town. Our Kheya boat was large enough to carry half a dozen motorcycles. Crossing to the other side, I was expecting unpaved potholed roads; instead I was pleasantly surprised to find well-paved roads, to the credit of LGRD engineering.
For most of our ride, the road ran parallel to the Khasi Hills in India, offering us a spectacular panorama of blue mountains set against green fields where rice, watermelons, wheat and other crops were growing. Houses and buildings became sparser as we travelled westward with occasional groups of schoolchildren walking along the roadside. It felt strange to the roads and landscape without cars. Motorcycles, however, were common as the primary public transport.
After travelling about thirty-two kilometers we reached a wide sandy tract. Here the Jadukata river entered Bangladesh from India. Its shallow waters shimmered with a turquoise hue reminding me of the Shomeshwari river in Birisiri. Unlike Birisiri however, there was a hill – called Barikka Tilla - across the river, offering us panoramic views of the river.
Numerous small boats were parked mid-river. The boatmen searched the riverbed for stones and coal which flowed in from the mountains. Their stockpile is stored nearby until monsoon when the river swells and trawlers can navigate here to carry it out.
We drove westward to Teker Ghat, close to Tanguar Haor. A liberation war memorial graced this outpost and children splashed at a pristine lake bordering the mountains. This was our last stop before we retraced our ride and returned to Sunamganj.
Jadukata turned out to be every bit as beautiful as I had hoped and I returned home with splendid memories.