Ratargul, A freshwater swamp forest from Bangladesh

Friday, 14 September 2012

It was my another traveling day at Sylhet(সিলেট). This time it was a crash tour, for only 24 hours. We have arrived to the Dorga Gate(দরগা গেট) just after the 6:00 at morning. Immediately after that we have entered into the Isti Kutum(ইষ্টি কুটুম) restaurant. Possibly we were the first customer for the day. They were still doing cleaning and other stuffs for the last time before the opening.

After a heavy breakfast we have hired a CNG auto rickshaw from the Amborkhana(আম্বরখানা) point, near the restaurant. We have fixed the vehicle for 450 taka. It will drop us at Gowainghat(গোয়াইনঘাট). It was raining lightly and the weather was extremely suitable for traveling.

Last night I didn't have a sound sleep. If I can not sleep at night, I can't do motor vehicle journey at next morning. So I was feeling headache and feeling uncomfortable. I was trying to concentrate into the roadside beauties but nothing could help me. But still I was trying to enjoy maximum.

The more we were progressing further from the town the more the beauties of the Sylhet(সিলেট) was revealing to us. The scenic views beside the gowainghat(গোয়াইনঘাট) road use to be always beautiful, regardless the season. During the rainy season you'll find the both side is covered by water. You'll not see anything except the water.

But at other seasons you'll see the green paddy fields, or the golden field when paddies are ripen. Even the empty fields during winter is still beautiful. As it was at the end of the rainy season, we found very little amount of 'water covered' lands. Most of the lads were covered with green verdant paddies. Also the view of mountains from India were as compliments beside that green field.

After a long two hours(at 8:00) of CNG ride, we have arrived to the Gowainghat bazar(গোয়াইনঘাট বাজার). We have hired a medium sized of engine driven boat for 1000 taka. It was from the Engine Nouka Ghat(ইঞ্জিন নৌকা ঘাট) near the bazaar. Before jumping inside the boat, we have bought a bottle of water and biscuits.

We three(me, Abir, and Rizwan) climbed on the roof of the boat and relaxing over there. Initially the sun was under the clouds for few minutes, but after that it was bright and sunny. I always love to journey by boats. It goes slowly, the beauties beside the rivers are always sweet. Activities of the village people around the river are always viable to me. Kids are jumping on water, or playing at the bank of the river is always something I will enjoy again and again.

By the way, I don't know the name of the river, possible it's name is Changer Khal(চেন্গের খাল). May be its a river, or a canal. But the flow of the river is extreme. Anything that dropped in the water just gone with in a flash. There were haor(হাওর) at the both sides of the river. During rainy season you can not separate the river from haor(হাওর). But as the water level was decreasing, it was easy to distinguish when we were there.

After an hour of boat journey we have reached near to the Ratergul(রাতারগুল) swam forest. As it was Friday, few groups of tourist were available before and after us. Possibly 4/5 groups we have seen. We have hired a small boat for 200 taka to see inside the swamp forest.

As the water level decreased few meters within last 2/3 weeks, it was hard to travel every places of the forest. Lot of small bushes were showing their heads over the water. That small boat couldn't push through that. During rainy season those bushes use to be under water and this kind of boats can easily move that time.

The trees were inside the water were standing still. Roots of trees were under water, and few were above. I don't know exactly what kind of plant species available inside the forest. But Hijal(হিজল) is available there for sure. This place is a nice hideout for snakes but we didn't see a single snake.

I like to swim in water, but hell not in such water. The water of that place is kind of scary. Fear of snake, threat of leeches and unknown world under the water. So I didn't dare to jump from the boat. Neither did my co-travelers.

That mysterious swamp forest was creating images on the water. It was also having the game of shadow and sun rays through the leafs above. Color of the water was greenish at some places. There were lot of small green spiders jumped from the tree over the boat. Not sure whether those were harmful or not, but was looking lovely. We have passed more than an hour inside the forest by wandering on that small boat. It was thinking about a nap on boat but couldn't.

It was around 12:00 of the day when we have returned back to the engine boat. While returning, the boat had to go against the flow of water. So it was moving in even slower pace. Amid of the way we have a swim on the river. Also it was having a heavy rain and hard to see anything for the thick rain drops. The swimming was not that much enjoyable for the muddy water, and for the extreme current of the river. It was extremely hard for even standing on the water. But it was adventurous. By the way, only Abir(আবীর) and me have participated on that, not Rezwan(রেজওয়ান). In fact it was Abir(আবীর) who was more interested as he was the youngest of us.

After stopping the rain, it had a scorching sun over the sky immediately. It was hard to sit over the roof of the boat for the heat. After half an hour again the rain came. That time it was even heavier than previous one. I went inside, under the roof, but other twos were standing on the top, under the umbrellas.

After a 2.5 hours of boat ride, we have returned back from where we have started boat riding. Our journey just ended, but the rain didn't. It was raining continually. After paying to the boatman, we have moved for the Jaflong(জাফলং). That is another story which I'll share with you next time.

About Ratargul(রাতারগুল):

Its the only freshwater swamp forest(মিঠা পানির বন) from the Bangladesh. It means, the water is not salty like sundarban(সুন্দরবন), and part of the trees use to be under the water. And the trees from that forest are habituated in such a ways that they can even survive in water. In sundarban(সুন্দরবন) the water level is controlled by the high and low tides from the river, ocean. But in Ratargul(রাতারগুল) the water is only controlled by the rainy season. At other seasons there will be hardly any water inside the forest. Those rainy season waters are in fact overflowed water from haor(হাওর) and rivers.

Things to Ponder:

Do not destroy your motherland or the world. Keep this forest clean so that our next generation do not think it was a story. Leave a chance for them too to see it. So my friends, be nature friendly during your travel. Do not leave any sign behind that tells you were there. Enter silently and return back silently. Please.

A road side view on the way.

A village house beside the river.

Almost near to the swamp forest.

Such green spiders were crawling over us.

A common dragon fly.


  1. let me know the best time to visit there and if there is a hotel or resort to stay night...

    1. Best time is Rainy Season of Bangladesh... Usually July-August... And Hotels will be at Sylhet town...

  2. Beautiful! Very informative article! Thanks for sharing your experience. It seems its worth the risk taking going there in monsoon. Cant wait to explore the place.

  3. thanks lt for ur helpful information.

  4. can it be possible to travel ratargul on first 10 days of january? will there be enough water on that time for travelling??

    1. It has water only during rainy season... So you have to wait till end of June or Early July...

  5. Very nice and informative article. I have also tried to make a solution to protect the ratargul swamp forest. You can check it- http://www.natureconservationbd.cf/2016/12/there-will-be-no-ratargul-swamp-forest.html


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