If you love trekking, nature and have been planning to visit Chittagong, in Bangladesh then give the scenic Chittagong Hill Tracts a thought for sure!
Simply put, the Chittagong Hill Tract is a space located inside the Chittagong Division, in the south-eastern side of Bangladesh that borders Myanmar and India. Spanning across 13295 kms, it constituted of a single district back till 1984, at a time when it was divided into 3 districts, the Bandarban District, the Rangamati Hill District and also the Kkagrachari District. In terms of the topography, the hill regions are a vast region in this country. And according to the historical records, this was the place where many refugees from Burma Arakan settled back in the 16th century and today there are many Rohingya refugees as well. Also with Sikkim, Sri Lanka, Ladakh, Bhutan, Darjeeling and Sikkim, it comprises of few of the remaining places of Buddhism in South Asia.
If you happen to be a budget traveler, then you can simply book your cheap flights to Chittagong and visit the city. And when it comes to the Chittagong Hill Tracts, here are some of the best sites to explore here.
The Tribal Bazaar:
In Bandarban, you will come across the smallest street market on almost all the days! But this marketplace usually gets noted on a Sunday and Wednesday when the traders here walk in from the multiple districts in the country, to buy and sell the produce. The trading is carried in Marma instead of Bengali and is very unlike what you are going to see anywhere in Bangladesh. Over here you can get vegetables and fruits of all kinds and mounds of fish paste as well, which is used a base for all kinds of local cooking. That aside, you also have buckets of frogs, crabs and you will find many women smoking hand-rolled cheroots.
Bana Vihara Monastery:
Bana Vihara can be reached either through the Rajbari Ghat or by traveling through a bridge that is located towards the west and it has a huge Buddhist monastery, created by Chakma Buddhist monks back in 1972. Here you have the option to wander in the grounds, take a peek inside of the temples after you have taken the permission, visit the monks and watch them making wooden boats by the waterside on the eastern corner of the island. This entire place has a peaceful feel to itself.
The entire place is a domain of the Chakma! However, the two islands, in general, are interesting to visit. You will come to a place called Rajbari, where the Chakma king used to have his palace that has been reconstructed sometime back. Tourists aren’t allowed to enter the palace but are allowed to have a peek inside the closeby Buddhist Temple. Here stalls have been set up selling vibrant Chakma fabrics that are handmade. You will also find a rowboat that is used to bring visitors to Rajbari from the Rajbari Ghat.
This very small museum provides some very interesting insights of traditional cultures that belong to the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Here you will come across several tribal dresses that have been displayed here along with basketwork, jewelry and many more. As such, you won’t be able to interpret much, as not many details are available here. But you will be able to know more if you get yourself a guide. Also sometimes you might have to ask for the museum to be opened.
Fringed with island, the scenic Kaptai Lake is a man-made lake in this country and has been set up back in 1960 for a hydroelectric project. This is one of the most pleasant sites and is much popular amidst the Bengali sightseers. However, you will also find foreigners here. The most well-known tour here is the Shuvalong Falls, which is one of the popular waterfalls. A boat trip here is a great experience to have after you’ve crossed the huge expanse of the main lake. Post that you can enter the islands layered with banana plants and lastly, to a dramatic pass via a deep gorge.
So get your cheap flights to Chittagong and make to the city and explore the various interesting sites in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.