By Farhad Nibir
Touring is always a pleasure. Till being a university student I only had touring experience with family to Cox's Bazar or native villages, which is always a pleasure. Hence, I never had any experience as to touring with friends. So, we four friends started to plan a tour. We were very confused to set our destination since there were lots of places to visit. After a huge debate, we fixed Tetulia, Panchagarh, the northernmost sub-district of our evergreen Bangladesh.
We decided to have a train journey, since it is relaxing yet a 12 hour long journey to the northernmost district called Panchagarh. We started at around 12:40AM from Kamlapur Railway Station since our train was 30 minutes late. Four of us were very keen and excited as we were going to an unknown place, do not know what to expect, do not know what to do there. All we knew was we can see the mighty Kanchenjunga by confined within our national borders as well as visiting the Banglabandha Land Port. From the train we got our best view of the Chalan Beel as the train entered the Beel area right after the sun started to rise. On both sides, as far as we can see there were only water and the local fishermen were catching fish. We enjoyed the every moment of that Chalan Beel experience.
After a long 12 hour journey we made it to the northernmost rail station of Bangladesh. We did not had any booking at any hotel we can stay in. We had a plan to either stay at Panchagarh city and then visit the places we intended from there or move towards Tetulia and stay there. We sticked to the later and started for Tetulia from Panchagarh after a cup of tea.
After almost an hour long bus ride we reached our final destination Tetulia. Whilst on our way to Tetulia, we contacted the Tetulia Dak Bungalow for availability. However, there was no rooms available. Still we tried to manage a room there and then moved towards their suggested RDRS Guest House, which gave us some daunting and haunting feelings. So, being freshed we went to look for a hotel with nice rooms and we found Kazi Brothers Abashik Hotel adjacent to Tetulia Bazar. After shifting to the hotel we had our lunch at a hotel named Bangla Hotel, the food was good. Then we head towards the Mohananda River View Point situated opposite to the Dak Bungalow to have some chilling time after the sunset, that was some next level experience, sitting right beside the border enjoying the night view of Mohananda River and India.
The next day after having breakfast we started for Banglabandha Land Port with a view to see the border closing parade. But our guide for this tour, Jafor Mama who is a local van-wala, suggested to take us to the Kazi & Kazi Tea Estate situated in Rowshanpur first and then to our ultimate destination. On the way to Banglabandha we had out lunch in the Shalbahan Bazar, here the hotel has Curd (Doi) on their menu, which tasted heavenly, one must try whilst visiting the area.
Visiting a border of two nation was a very good experience. This was the very first time I have visited a land port as well as seeing the border closing parade. The most fun part was there was no mobile phone network at the Banglabandha Border. On the war towards Banglabandha one will witness a ton of stone crushing and dealing areas near the port, where the stones come from all the way from Nepal as well as locals collect from the Mohananda River. Witnessing the border parade for the first time was a great experience.
Coming back from the Banglabandha Border we witnessed some amazing picturesque views from the road. The Panchagarh - Banglabandha Highway is undoubtedly the best and the most beautiful highway in Bangladesh. Coming back at the hotel again we have some snacks at the street food corner beneath our hotel where Luchi and Dal is quite hot attraction for the locals. They also offer Malai which is one of the greatest food attractions for those who have a sweet tooth. At night we spend some time at the Mohananda River View Point for about an hour and came back to the hotel, since we had train to get back to Dhaka the following morning at 7:20AM. We did not sleep the whole night as it will be tough job to get up that early and go to Panchagarh to catch the train.
We started very early in the morning from Tetulia. After reaching Panchagarh wasting no time we head towards the Rail Station. We were having a cup of tea as we were sleepless the night before and right at that moment the whistle of the train went on and the train started to leave. Paying the bills we ran with all the energy there was left in us to hop in the train. And lastly four of us safely boarded the train and started our journey back towards Dhaka. After a 13 hour long hectic journey our tour concluded at Kamlapur Rail Station.
Dhaka - Panchagarh - Dhaka train ticket - 1100 BDT per person
Panchagarh - Tetulia - Panchagarh bus fare - 100 BDT per person
Room fares - 1400 BDT for two nights
Tetulia - Rowshanpur - Banglabandha - Tetulia van fare - 1100 BDT
Lunch/Dinner (Chicken & Rice) - 100 BDT (each time you dine)
Snacks (Luchi & Dal) - Luchi - 5 BDT per piece
Dal - 10 BDT per bowl
Malai - 20 BDT per plate
Miscellaneous van fare - 500 BDT