Bandarban is the most remote and least populated hill district in Bangladesh. It is governed by a Hill Council under the government of Bangladesh, headed by the King of Mong Circle. The area of Bandarban is 4,479 km² with a population of over 300,000 inside Bangladesh is bordered by Chittagong, Cox's Bazaar, Rangamati, and Khagrachari. Besides, 129 kilometre international border lays Myanmar provinces of Arakan and Chin. Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, and Chramma are the major religions along with many pagan faiths.
If you need any information or any kind emergency, you may contact with following institution:
- Press Club (phone: +880 (0) 361 62549),
- Tribal Cultural Institute (phone: +880 (0) 361 62424)
- the office of Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation
- The government owned tourism company and the office of Guide Tours
Bandarban is divided into 7 upazilas, each one divided into different numbers of unions. Each of these unions is cluster of paras and villages. Upazilas of Bandarban are:
- Bandarban Sadar: Bandarban Sadar, Rajvila, Kuhalong, Tankabati, Sualok
- Thanchi: Thanchi, Remakree, Bolipara, Tindu
- Lama: Lama, Aziznagar, Gozalia, Fashiakhali, Rupasipara, Soroi,
- Nikhongchhari: Nikhongchhari, Dochari, Baishari, Ghumdhum
- Alikadam: Alikadam, Choykhong
- Ruma: Ruma, Galengga, Pyndu, Remakree Pranksha
- Rowangchhari: Rowangchhari, Alekhong, Noapatang, Taracha
Tahjindong (1280 meters, also known as bijoy), Mowdok Mual (1052 meters), and Keokradong (883 metres) are the three highest peak of Bangladesh which are located in Bandarban district. The Raikhiang Lake is the highest lake in Bangladesh which is also located here in Bandarban. Boga Lake and Chimbuk peak are two more highly noted features of Bandarban.
Though most of the Bangladeshi sources mentioning Keokradong as the highest peak of Bangladesh, but Tazing Dong lying further east is accepted both by government of Bangladesh and expert sources as a taller peak. Tazing Dong, sometimes spelled as Tahjingdong is also known as Bijoy.
The English adventurer Mr. Ginge Fullen’s measurement shows that an officially unspecified peak near the Myanmar border is the highest point in Bangladesh. It is locally known as Mowdok Mual. Recently, a team of Nature Adventure Club took part in a trip in the mowdok range and proved the ginge fullens statement. The team of Nature Adventure Club measured the height of this peak and found 3488 feet with gps accuracy of 3 meter. It is familiar as 'Saka Haphong' to the local Tripura tribes.
Followings are the list of mountain ranges in Bandarban area including the tallest peaks of each range:
- Muranja (sometimes called as Meranja) range (Basitaung, 664m)
- Chimbook range (Tindu, 898m)
- Politai range (Keokradang, 884m; Ramiu Taung 921m)
- Wayla range (most of this range is in Myanmar)
- Saichal-Mowdok range (Bilaisari, 669m and Mowdok Mual 1,003m)
- Batimain range (Batitaung, 526m)
- Saichal range (Rang Tlang, 958m; Waibung, 808m; and Mowdok Tlang, 905m)
- Wailatong and Tambang ranges
The River Sangu is the only river born inside of Bangladesh territory which runs through Bandarban. It is also known as Sangpo or Shankha. The other rivers in Bandarban district are Matamuhuri and Bakkhali. Kaptai Lake is the biggest lake in Bangladesh which falls under the area.
Over fifteen ethnic minorities are currently living in the district along with the Bengalis, including: Marma, Mru (also known as Mro or Murong), Tripuri (also known as Tipra or Tipperah), Arakanese descendants and Arakanese (Rakhine), who are also know as Magh, Mizo (also known as Lushei), Bawm, Khyang, Khumi, Kuki, Chak, Chakma and Tenchungya, Reang (also spelled as Riyang), Uchoi (also spelled as Usui) and Pankho.
These ethnic groups are also divided in various clans and sects, primarily dominated by four religions - Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and a number of pagan faiths. Each of these clans and groups are also clustered into two major ethnic families (hill people and valley people). Since the Kaptai dam has been flooded the valley creating to Kaptai lake, peoples who lived in valley have started to live on hill along with the hill people.
Raj Punnyah: It is traditional rite of paying honor and taxes (khazna) to the king of Bohmang circle. Since 1885, the tradition started with three day festival at the royal palace. The festival features the king meeting his subjects in full insignia, accompanied by a traditional guard, and receiving tributes.
Sangrai: It is the biggest festival of the Marma tribesmen, similar to Biju of the Chakmas and Boisabi of the Tripuris. In the mid-April, this traditional celebration of the new year falls and at the same time Bengali Naba Barsha and Assamese Bihu is being celebrated. The festival enjoyed and celebrated by the songs and dances. Sangrai is identically marked by magic charm competitions and the water festival. The water festival is a game of throwing water from two different sides of a marked arena by unmarried girls and boys on each other. They think that splashing water is a way of expressing a love interest.
There are three ways to get in Bandarban. Direct bus ride is the easiest way which takes 6 hours from Dhaka to Bandarban. There are a few services available which are Dolphin at Kalabagan, Shyamoli Paribahan at Gabtali, Asad gate, Fakirerpul, Kamlapur, Saydabad, Unique service, and S Alam at Kamalapur. It is advisable to buy tickets in advance on the high tourist season. If you are at Chittagong, you can ride on bus in every half hour and the fare is approximate Tk. 110-150. Chittagong to Bandarban tour takes 2 hours and the most available bus service is Purbani at Bahaddarhaat. To reach Chittagong from Dhaka you may have three options - taking a flight, a bus ride or a train ride from Kamalapur.
- Air Services: Bangladesh Biman, Regent Air, United Airways, or Novo Air
- Bus Services: Green Line Paribahan, Green Line Paribahan, Soudia, Saintmartin Paribahan, London Express, Unique Paribahan and many more.
- Train Services: Turna Nishitha, Mahanagar Godhuli and Subarna
What You Can See
There are several tourist places in Bandarban district. Followings are the notable places in Bandarban:
Buddha Dhatu Jadi
It is the largest Buddhist temple in Bangladesh which is located in Balaghata, about 4 km away from the town. This place is one of the exceptional places to visit which is locally known as 'Swarna Mandir'.
Shoilo Propat at Milanchari, one of the beautiful waterfall which is about 4 km away from the town on the road to Thanchi. The waterfall is maintained by the national tourism promotion corporation (Bangladesh Parjatan). The Parjatan Motel has a huge three-storey building on a high place. Compared to other places, the room rent is a little high.
Meghla, the mini safari park is maintained by the Distrcit Administraion which is 4 km away from the town on the road to Keranihat. This place features a mini-safari-park, a zoo, and a hanging bridge.
Nilachal is the tourist site near Meghla, in Tigerpara developed by the District Administration. It takes only 10-15 minutes by car. Tourists are always gathering here to enjoy beautiful sunset over the hill. If you want to stay here, there is a small resort on the top of the hill.
Raj Vihar and Ujanipara Vihar
There are several Buddhist temples which are known as kyang in local language, and vihars include the highly mentionable the Rajvihar at Jadipara. There is also a major place of interest known as Ujanipara Vihar is the monastery at Ujanipara.
Chimbuk Hill and Tribal Villages
Among one of the tallest peaks in Bangladesh, Chimbuk is about 14 km away from the town. Bawm villages and Mru villages around Chimbuk are also lie within a day's journey from the town.
If you are a beauty seeker, Nilgiri is the right place for you. It is also one of the tallest peaks in Bangladesh that lies about 46 km away from the town. There is a beautiful resort you’ll get in the top of the mountain that maintains by the Bangladesh Army.
The famous Boga lake is a beautiful lake surrounded by high hills and a tiny village alongside the lake. It is the most beautiful natural lake in Bangladesh. The Boga lake is also known as Bagakain Lake or Baga Lake. It is about 18 km away from Ruma Sadar Upazilla in Bandarban. It is about 3000 feet above from the sea level and the area of this lake is around 15 acres.
What to Do
Cruise on River Sangu: A journey by boat is highly admired activity here on the river Sangu. A double oared boat along with a blunt aft and a flat bottom can be the right one on the River Sangu. This trip might be an hour trip that includes a stop-over to take tea. If you want to make a day long cruise, the trip may include stop-overs to have food. During the journey on the river Sangu, you will find people working on river with bamboos. During the dry season, the river is not very deep and several times your boat might get stuck with the soil under the river.
Regular tour guides takes tourists through Buddha Dhatu Jadi, Shoilo Propat, Meghla, Raj Vihar and Ujanipara Vihar with two tribal villages, Chimbuk Hill and a couple of more sites. Irregular tour guides from Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation takes tourist to Meghla and Nilachal, the artificially formed government owned "tourist attractions" usually shunned by serious travelers.
A hike to either Tahjindong (967 m) or Keokaradong (883 m), the two tallest peaks is a thrilling experience. Beside of both the peaks exist in the remotest tribes-people of Bangladesh called the Khumi and the Kuki.
What to Buy
- Bamboo Craft: A lot of Brumese, Chinese and Thai trinkets, textile and other stuff available in the town. If you want to buy exclusive things, the best buy is absolutely the products of local handloom such as cloth fabric, shawls, blankets, products of bamboo, cane, wood buskets, flutes, hats, mask and many more. You don’t need to think about price as the prices of each product are amazingly low compared to the qualities. The designs are refreshingly exotic and really geometric.
- Master Shopping Complex and Burmese Market: This market is full of Thai, Chinese & Burmese products and always busy with throngs of buyers, sellers and onlookers. Most of times, Marma shopkeepers are women and easy to deal with them.
- Bonolota Textile and Rangamati Textile: You’ll find these kind of shops at the Traffic Mor who are selling handloom products from Rangamati and Hill Tratcs.
- The BSCIC Shop: A variety of handloom and cottage products available here. It is the sales center for the cottage industry development project of Bangladesh government.
- Shoilo Propat: Various shawls, blankets and baskets made by the Bawm people which also sold by them by the side of the waterfall.
- Farukpara: Different kinds of flutes, hats, pitchers and other products made by the Bawm people that sold in little shop crammed full with exotic and amazing products.
- Marma Bazaar: You’ll get all the local food and textile products with wet grocery and fresh hill produces here in Marma Bazaar. You can look for Nappi, a local delicacy. Don't forget to pack it tight before carrying. Activities of this market starts early in the morning, with tribes-people coming down from the hills to sell their own planted vegetables, roots, tubers, fruits, berries and nuts.
- Hla Hla Burmise Market: This market is full of Thai, Chinese & Burmese products. It is always busy with throngs of buyers, sellers and onlookers.
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