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Wow. This wonderful trip with Nijhoom Tours certainly delivered beyond expectation. Five of us travelled on this two week adventure in December. It was extremely well organised and so diverse in every respect that it made for one of the best travel adventures ever.
The throbbing, sensual heart of Dhaka with the continuous ring of the rickshaw bells will live with me. We walked the narrow streets lined with vendors of every description and were met with friendly inquiries as to where we were from and requests for selfies. These seemed to give enormous pleasure and an opportunity for conversation with the friendliest and most charming of people while we visited the important locations in Dhaka.
© At Sixty Dome Mosque in Bagerhat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo Credit: Faisal Mahmud
At the end of our first day we made our way by rickshaw to the river where we boarded a small boat to see the floating markets and humming life of the river before making our way to board “The Rocket”, an old paddle steamer on which we stayed overnight for our journey eventually to Bagherat. Bagherat excelled. The WHS, terracotta coloured mosques with their simple but exquisite line were beautiful in the late afternoon sunshine.
Our paddle steamer ride was pleasantly longer than expected owing to overnight fog but our wonderful guide Faisal adjusted our schedule and sped us there in time to see the full beauty of the 60 Dome Mosque before the sun finally set. After Bagherat it was then on to our hotel in Mongla for the night before our departure next morning for our boat to the Sunderbans..
© Boat ride at Sundarbans Mangrove Forest. Photo Credit: Faisal Mahmud
Our lovely little boat was our home for the next three days and two nights but somehow it seemed longer. The chef and his team prepared and cooked some wonderful Bangladesh dishes giving us a real taste of fresh local food. We paddled quietly along the Sunderban creeks in the dawn and early evening. Our wildlife guide Ali readily spotting opportunities. The wildlife was not abundant but we saw otters, deer, hog, monitor lizards, monkeys, brahminy kites, kingfishers and other avian life plus people making a living fishing from the channels in their little boats. Tigers eluded us but we saw paw prints so they were not far away.
© At medieval period Kusumba Mosque. Photo Credit: Faisal Mahmud
The rest of our trip took us north by train to Khulna, Rajshahi and Puthia with its many Hindu temples; the UNESCO Buddhist temple of Mahavihara, and some tribal villages with delightfully friendly people, before heading back to Dhaka then departing by train again for Srimangal and the tea plantations, lemon groves and pineapple plantations. Finally we visited Sonargaon, a former capital outside Dhaka and the deserted town of the Hindu merchants with its stunning villas.
© On a river island (Char). Photo Credit: Faisal Mahmud
Last but not least, Bangladeshi buffalo yogurt is the best I have ever tasted.
All in all, it was an amazing and wonderfully rich trip. I recommend it highly and give special thanks to Raw Hassan, for his inspiration to share his country and manage everything meticulously; Faisal, our lovely and funny guide who looked after us so well and danced for us at our Christmas dinner and the intrepid Mahmoud, our driver who negotiated the unmade and broken roads, voluminous traffic, some coming straight at us, and delivered us safely back. No accidents seen or experienced.
This is a trip which will not disappoint in a fascinating and little visited country.
© A Khasia tribal village. Photo Credit: Faisal Mahmud