It was around 4:00 am at the morning when we have reached at the Shayestaganj(শায়েস্তাগঞ্জ) of Hobiganj(হবিগঞ্জ) district. We have reached there using Dhaka-Sylhet(ঢাকা-সিলেট) highway bus. It was a full moon night and I have enjoyed my journey with the beauty of the moon. Both sides of the road was having wide open, and only the paddy fields were available. Under the white light of the full moon, the scenarios around the road side were spooky but amazingly awesome. I needed to have a nap on my bus, but couldn't as I was greedy to enjoy this beauty more, and more.
We had to pass the morning by gossiping, wandering at the bridge over the river Khowai(খোয়াই নদী) near from the place. Then we had a traditional heavy Lonely Traveler breakfast. We have hired a CNG driven auto vehicle for 350 Taka that would drop us at the gate of Kalenga(কালেঙ্গা) forest bit. I bough a medium sized juicy watermelon to enjoy it during our trekking. My mates found this funny and they laughed at me and said "We can not carry this, you have to carry this by yourself". I smiled at them and agreed accordingly.
It was probably at 7:30am at morning when we have reached at the Kalenga forest bit(কালেঙ্গা ফরেস্ট বিট). It was a journey of more than an hour. At few portions the road condition wasn't good. But the scenic beauties around us was picturesquely beautify. Anyway, we had to wait on the reception of the forest bit for a while as there were no guides available around there. After a short looking, searching we have hired one guy to show us the path. He also agreed to carry the watermelon by himself :-)
There are several treks available inside the forest range. The length of the paths are measured by the hours. Since our plan was to exit through the Rema forest bit(রেমা ফরেস্ট বিট), we couldn't experience those fixed treks. So instead, we only visited the watch tower beside a pond and climbed on that to observe the forest from the top. The condition of the tower was a bit risky. The railings around the stairs were broken or missing. Can cause accident if anyone is not that much careful.
There is a route available between the Rema(রেমা) and the Kalenga(কালেঙ্গা) bit. But to have an adventure, our guide often picked the path through the jungle. It was kind of an off trek trekking. During the dry season these off treks are smoother, but during the rainy season, this is different. It uses to be a hideout for the blood sucking leeches and peoples get tired by removing those from the legs.
During our trekking we have found lot of plain lands randomly. Our guide has explained about these lands. The local people uses to cultivate this lands for free. But in returns they have to provide a guard for the trees at forest. Both the parties get benefited from this contract.
We had a very little amount of water with us that could fulfill our needs. When we have entered inside the Rema forest bit(রেমা ফরেস্ট বিট), we have found a nice place for sitting and started enjoying the watermelon that I brought with us. It was sweet, juicy and with full of energy. My mates were very happy with my decision about the watermelon. They have realized why I have brought this thing with us. Experience matters, I did this from my past experience. During a summer trek, anything juicy feels like a food of heaven. Try yourself if you don't trust me.
It was probably at 1:00 pm at noon, or something near that time. We have reached at the office of Rema forest bit(রেমা ফরেস্ট বিট). We thought our trekking has ended. We have refreshed from a water tube well nearby. I have decided not to carry any water bottles as the trek was finished. But our guide picked those bottles and poured with water and kept those with him. Later we realized why he did that.
From that point, we had to walk for another 90 minutes or more to reach a place from where we can hire a vehicle. The road was like a road through desert. No shades around the road, no trees, and nothing. Its just a road and you have to walk on it. No vehicles either. It was a very tiring walk and seemed to us a never ending road. Our misery ended when we have reached near a river named Khowai(খোয়াই নদী). We have crossed the shallow river by a boat, and said a bye to the Rema(রেমা) forest region.
About Rema-Kalenga Reserve Forest(রেমা-কালেঙ্গা রিজার্ভ ফরেস্ট):
Rema-Kalenga Reserve Forest(রেমা-কালেঙ্গা রিজার্ভ ফরেস্ট) is located at the Chunarughat Upazala(চুনারুঘাট উপজেলা) of Hobiganj district(হবিগঞ্জ জেলা). This reserve forest lies at the border of the Bangladesh-India. Few local people lives inside the forest in scattered. Also a Tipra(টিপরা) tribal village is found near at the border. Also, this forest is a hideout for very few rare animals from Bangladesh. This forest is rich with both flora and fauna. Its a perfect place for the forest trekkers.
Basically there are two forest bits which are joined together. One is known as Rema Forest Bit(রেমা ফরেস্ট বিট), and another one is Kalenga Forest Bit(কালেঙ্গা ফরেস্ট বিট). You can visit only one forest bit, or both of these. It is possible to enter through a forest bit and exit through another one.
How to go:
First of all you have to come at the Shayestaganj(শায়েস্তাগঞ্জ) of Hobiganj(হবিগঞ্জ). You can go there using Train or Bus. You can take the bus of Hobiganj(হবিগঞ্জ) district, or can take the bus of Sylhet(সিলেট) district. It will be around 4-5 hours of journey at maximum. So you should have reached Shayestaganj(শায়েস্তাগঞ্জ) by 4:00 am at morning or earlier.
From there you can easily hire CNG driven vehicles. It will be around 350 to 400 taka if you reserve the whole CNG. Most of the drivers do not know about the forest bits. Ask them about Kalenga Forest Bit(কালেঙ্গা ফরেস্ট বিট). If they do not know about this, then come to Chunarughat Upazela(চুনারুঘাট উপজেলা) using CNG, and then hire another vehicle from there and they must know about the Kalenga Forest Bit(কালেঙ্গা ফরেস্ট বিট) as its nearer from their place.
Where to stay:
You can come back to Dhaka within the same day. Also you can stay at the Hobiganj(হবিগঞ্জ) town as it has few quality hotels around. I have stayed at the Hotel Jamil(হোটেল জামিল) and it was nice. The cheapest rooms from the hotel were 180-250 Taka per head and we went for the cheap.
Notes: Carry your own food and water during the trek. You'll not find anything there. So take an extra care for this.
কেউ যদি এইখানে বেড়াইতে যাই, তাইলে যেন আমরা কিছু ফালাইয়া না রাইখা আসি... আমরা যে এইখানে গেছিলাম, এইটার কোনো নিশানাই ঐখানে রাইখা আসা যাবে না... মনে রাখবেন উপরের দিকে থুথু ফেললে নিজের গায়েই লাগে... জায়গাটা ময়লা আবর্জনা ফেলে নষ্ট করলে কিন্তু আমাদের দেশের একটা সুন্দর জায়গাই নষ্ট হবে, যা আমাদেরই ক্ষতি...!
Rema-Kalenga Reserve Forest(রেমা-কালেঙ্গা রিজার্ভ ফরেস্ট),
Upazela: Chunarughat(চুনারুঘাট উপজেলা),
District: Hobiganj(হবিগঞ্জ জেলা),
This article is written by Lonely Traveler,
for the blog http://icwow.blogspot.com/