Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Whichever way you look at it, the hills of the Chittagong Division of Bangladesh represent one of the most unspoilt and mouthwatering destinations for a temperate and relaxing rest cure.

As a fan of Tuscany.. preferably out of season!.. the rolling hill slopes of Bangladesh readily remind me of what I am missing. Restful and intriguing, the area is yet another largely gem of scenery and experiences.

Rangamati, at the heart of the area, is a fascinating market town, to which, daily, the people of the surrounding area bring home grown and produced product to the colourful markets.

By land, and by water, the people gather from first light, and beside the streets and alleys offer an extraordinary array of local foods, crops and crafts.

Of the crafts, the most common is handloom woven fabrics. Visiting the weavers in home or small cooperative is reminiscent of the famous handloom weaving tradition of the Highlands of Scotland, so popular in fashion centres across the world.

There is another resemblance to the great tradition of Scotland. Whilst the majority of the indigenous people who are the majority of the population in the area are Chakmas, like the great clan tradition of Scotland, the indigenous peoples of the hills, as well as those across Bangladesh, can be identified by the patterns and colours of the clothes they wear.

The Chakmas of these hills, like all Bangladesh’s indigenous peoples are a people of the Himalayan foothills, with close historic connections to many of the Tibetan/Nepalese peoples. The Chakmas, all 46 septs of them, as the Highlanders describe subfamilies of the great clans, are nominally led by Raja Debashish Roy, their King, who still occupies a palace, on the Lake.

Just like the clans and septs of Scotland, each of these families have their own colours and patterns for their traditional dress. Unlike the Highlands, that traditional garb is still widely worn, especially by the women.

But it is the water that makes the place so appealing. Kaptai Lake may be partly artificial, having been extended to provide water to towns and cities, but its setting, from dawn to sunset, in all its colours and faces, is yet another of those, as yet largely unvisited, treasures of scenery and people with which Bangladesh is replete.

If you head to Rangamati, be ready to linger awhile. It’s a hard place to leave!

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