Kishoreganj: A massive Haor from Astagram(অষ্টগ্রাম হাওড়)

Friday, 06 September 2013

It has been a long time since I made the last tour. After keeping the busyness aside, I have planned for another tour, and this time it was at the Ostogram of Kishoreganj district(অষ্টগ্র্রাম, কিশোরগঞ্জ জেলা). It was the later part of the rainy season, so decided to explore the Haor(হাওড়) from the Ostogram(অষ্টগ্র্রাম). For your information, six of the Upazela(উপজেলা) of Kishoreganj(কিশোরগঞ্জ) hold a massive Haor(হাওড়) all together. This Haor(হাওড়) is further extended with the Haor(হাওড়) from Netrakona(নেত্রকোনা), Hobiganj(হবিগঞ্জ), and Sunamganj(সুনামগঞ্জ) district. During the rainy season you can easily move from one Haor(হাওড়) to another without interruption.

For this particular tour, our only plan was to visit the Haor(হাওড়) from Ostogram(অষ্টগ্র্রাম), Mithamoin(মিঠামইন), and Itna(ইটনা). Initially my plan was for two days, but unfortunately we had to return back within the same day as the boatman was afraid to move forward during the night. His fear was the unwanted robbers as well as the shallow water at where the boat can get stuck with land(specially the island between the paddy fields).

We have fixed a boat for 4000 Taka. He was hired to visit Ostogram(অষ্টগ্র্রাম), then Mithamoin(মিঠামইন), and the Itna Upazela(ইটনা উপজেলা) of Kishoreganj district(কিশোরগঞ্জ জেলা). My cousin lives there, so I could have stayed there easily. It was around 12:00 at the noon when we have hired the boat, and I was expecting around 8/9 hours to reach at the final destination. Which means 8:00 at night. The boat was hired from the Kuliarchor of Kishoreganj district(কুলিয়ারচর, কিশোরগঞ্জ জেলা).

The village inside the Haor(হাওর) looks like an island similar to this photo.

Though we ran out by time and returned back directly from Ostogram(অষ্টগ্র্রাম). I mean through the same route. So I have paid the boatman an amount of 2000 Taka for this, and additional 200 taka as the man was slightly older and personally I liked his smile. I just bought that smile for another 200 Taka, in total I have paid 2200 Taka for the round trip from Ostogram(অষ্টগ্র্রাম).

It was a massive water world around us since the boat has departed from the launch Ghat. It was only water all around, and few island like villages amid of the water. Initially there were few fishing boats were available around, but slowly their count was diminishing. Only the island like villages around us and nothing else. It was a monotonous view, but I was enjoying the gentle breeze that was hitting on my face after kissing the surface of the water. I am a traveler and I always find out every bit of my traveling interesting.

Life in a Haor(হাওর) is not that much easy. It is always surrounded by the water during rainy season. Its a big problem for them and they are in a predicament with this massive water. It gives them a facility to travel easily using a boat. So during the rainy season they can travel from one place to another very easily. Even local people from there use to arrange the marriage ceremony during this particular time for the better communication.

A boat amid of Haor(হাওর) caring goods.

But they can not do any cultivation during this rainy period. They only depend on the fishing and no other works. All the cultivating activities are done during the dry season(locally known as late autumn), and its only once in a year. They use to cultivate for one season and use to run their family with that little amount of grains throughout the year. But during this dry season, their main transportation is walking. No other option is available. So they are confused to decide about which season is better for them. A common proverb from the Haor(হাওর) region is:

বর্ষায় নাউ, হেমন্তে পাউ...

It is very hard to find an ample amount of empty spaces from the villages(or should I say islands?) of Haor(হাওর). Everything is tightly packed and very much congested. The lavatory, kitchen, house, and all the other stuffs are in the same place. Even the domestic animals are also living so closely with them. It looks beautiful from far, specially when you are sitting on a boat and traveling. But practically its too much dirty all around and they are accustomed to this.

The sewerage water from the lavatory is dropping at the water beside their house. They are having a bath on the same water beside the sewerage dropping zone. Even they are also cleaning their dishes and taking water for cooking from the same place. They can use the tube well water, but they somehow like the water from Haor(হাওর) as it is iron and arsenic free. You can enjoy their daily life works and household works from the boat easily.

After reaching at the Astagram(অষ্টগ্র্রাম), we have visited the Kutub Shah Mosque(কুতুব শাহ মসজিদ) from there and bought few snacks to enjoy on the boat. We have stayed at the Astagram(অষ্টগ্র্রাম) for an hour or more and then returned back to Kuliarchor(কুলিয়ারচর) using the same path. A launch service uses to run between Astagram(অষ্টগ্র্রাম) and Kuliarchor(কুলিয়ারচর). Its probably in every hour or in every two hours(I forgot this). Anyone can take the service from those small ships as well.

I have enjoyed this tour a lot. It was a different kind of tour. Not that much hectic. It was kind of a relaxing tour and I needed this break after having a long working days. Apart from this I have learned more about the people and their life from a close proximity. It has enhanced my experience and will help me to go further.

Look at this. Its huge and seems endless.

What is Haor(হাওর):

Local people pronounces the word Ha(হ) as Sa(স). Along with other native language cataclysm they use to pronounce the word Shagor(সাগর) as Haor(হাওর). For your information the word Shagor(সাগর) means Ocean in Bengali. So literally, people from this particular area think this water body as a massive ocean and thus they call this as Haor(হাওর). This particular poem will help you to understand the perception of a poet about the Haor(হাওর).

মাটির উপরে জলের বসতি, জলের উপর ঢেউ...
ঢেউয়ের সাথে পবনের পিরিতি, নগরে জানেনা কেউ...

How to Go:

There are several ways you can enjoy the Haor(হাওর) from Kishoreganj district(কিশোরগঞ্জ জেলা). In fact you'll find lot of other places to enjoy the immensity of the Haor(হাওর). For example Nikli(নিকলী), Mithamoin(মিঠামইন), Itna(ইটনা) are the other places at where you'll find the same thing. But if you are planning to enjoy the Haor(হাওর) from Ostogram(অষ্টগ্র্রাম), then here are the steps.

It is obvious that you have to hire a boat for this particular tour. Also you can ride on the local public launches as a passenger, but I'll not recommend that for you. That's a passenger ship, you won't enjoy it as lot of curious eyes will always focus you and record your activities inside their memory. So better hire a boat, and it can be found at Kuliarchor(কুলিয়ারচর), Bajitpur(বাজিতপুর), or even at Bhoirob bazaar(ভৈরব বাজার). Just decide from where you want to hire it and how far you want to go. GPS coordinate of the Kuliarchor(কুলিয়ারচর) is (24° 9'5.03"N, 90°56'2.62"E).

I have already mentioned about the pricing. I have paid total 2200 taka for the round trip from Kuliarchor(কুলিয়ারচর) and Ostogram(অষ্টগ্র্রাম). In your case it can be similar, but keep in mind that it can be around 2500-3000 Taka based on the boat's availability as well as your ostentatious 'city boy' behavior. It takes around 2 hours and 15 minutes to reach at Astagram(অষ্টগ্র্রাম). During returning it took less than 2 hours. Probably 110 minutes as it was returning with the flow of the water. GPS Coordinate of the Astagram(অষ্টগ্র্রাম) is (24°16'35.39"N, 91° 7'17.99"Ed).

There is an ancient mosque available at Astagram(অষ্টগ্র্রাম) which is named as Kutub Shah Mosque(কুতুব শাহ মসজিদ). You must have to visit the mosque as you have gone to close to the mosque.

A public transport boat to ease the communication of local people.

Fishing is going on.

A pristine view of the Haor(হাওর) with village.

Villages of Haor(হাওর) are usually congested like this photograph. Its very hard to find an empty inches from there.

A closer look towards a typical Haor(হাওর) village.

Another closer look towards the village.

A shelter for hurricane or tornado.

A falcon is waiting sharply for it's prey.

A sailed boat amid of Haor(হাওর).

A dredging machine, name is Nana Nati Dredger-4(নানা নাতি ড্রেজার-৪).

This kind of view is very common. Its comes again and again, again and again.

Interestingly the water of this portion is muddy. I suspect its the converging point of multiple rivers.

People from the boat were curious about us. What exactly we were doing there!

A Lonely Tree like the Lonely Traveler.

This type of boats were vastly seen once upon a time in Bangladesh, but now its kind of a rare view.

People use this water for most of their needs starting from cooking/cleaning of dishes to bath and for regular household works.

A beautiful sky, we have vied with this cloud for while.

Again another common village. We thought its Astagram(অষ্টগ্র্রাম), but it wasn't.

One of the beautiful views from the day. The whole day was gloomy, but didn't rain.

A mosque at Astagram(অষ্টগ্র্রাম).

This is the famous Kutub Shah Mosque(কুতুব শাহ মসজিদ) from Astagram(অষ্টগ্র্রাম).

Another day from our life is about to take a bye and we were returning from where we have started.

A beautiful sailing boat. I have an inclination towards this kind of sailing boats. These are picturesquely beautiful.

People are busy even at the end of the day.

More boatmen and more natural Bangladeshi view.

This is how a Haor(হাওর) looks like when the sun is down, or about to down.

A fisherman is busy with placing his fishing net.

Local people. Not sure whether its a public boat or not. Cause most of the people from this Haor own a boat for communication. Its mandatory for them to own a family boat.

My travel mate clicked this silence. We were almost near to the end of our journey. They day is almost finished. This old man is standing near at the end of his life. I don't know what was he thinking while sitting there like this one. But for surely it was another day gone from his life like any other days. Similarly it was another traveling day from my traveling life. He doesn't know what will happen tomorrow, I don't know where I'll go next time. He'll die someday, I'll do too. One day new people will replace both of us. And on, and on, and, on...

Haor at Astagram(অষ্টগ্রাম হাওড়),
Upazela: Astagram(অষ্টগ্রাম),
District: Kishoreganj,
Country: Bangladesh

This article is written by Lonely Traveler,
for the blog


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