Exclusive Haven of Tranquility:
Tanguar Haor is one of the many renowned tourist spots in Bangladesh. It is possibly the second largest haor in the country and its official motherland of fishes. Many of the rivers passing through this place originate from the Indian Hills. The sight of shallow, clear water with the companionship of distant mountains, Tanguar Haor features all these wondrous attributes and its one-of-a-kind ecosystem comprising of hundreds of birds, fishes, plants and other animals. It is a bona fide pilgrimage destination to bird enthusiasts, nature lovers, dedicated naturalists, explorers and of course scenic photographers.
Location and Physical Attributes:
The term “Haor” denotes a large indentation in the ground where water dribbles down from nearby water bodies and rain and accumulates into a large, shallow pond; it remains all throughout the year. Situated in the Dharmapasha and Tahipur upazilas of the Sunamganj District, the haor is also home to around 120 “beels” (small depressions in the ground that get chock-full during the rainy season). In addition, the area of Tanguar Haor also consists of 46 villages, out of which 2802.36 sq ha is wetland. One of these villages- Tekerghaat, has an interesting location; it is a border village between Bangladesh and India. The enchanting mountains of Meghalaya are just a few minutes’ walk away from this village, but sadly that walk is forbidden. Nevertheless, Tanguar Haor has its own divinity to offer to its visitors.
Seasonal Beauty Swings:
The aforementioned “beels” fill up over the persistent rainy season, making the waterways accessible. If one has plans of visiting Tanguar Haor during the monsoon, then they will encounter a very interesting journey. Due to the availability of the water route, it is much easier to reach the desired location via water transports like engine boats and speed boats. Tourists/ travelers can simply board a boat from Sunamganj which will directly take them across to the wetlands. The journey takes somewhat 5 hours in an engine boat and 2 hours in a speed boat, however with a hefty price. On the contrary, during summertime, the beels dry up and consequently the waterways no longer remain usable. During summer expeditions, the only option to reach Tanguar Haor is terrestrial and the route is not forthright either, however, it is a lot cheaper and faster, approximately 2 hours so, than the aquatic course. Bottom line is: Tanguar Haor is adorned with various forms of natural beauty during different seasons and what travelers expect out of the journey completely depends on their difference of choice between monsoon with boat rides and heat with land expeditions. Not to mention the necessity of being armed with cameras and tripods.
Local, yet Wild Residents:
Travelers are also advised to bring along a book of birds to Tanguar Haor as its beauty thrives on the perfect ecosystem between birds and fishes. Various species of marine plants lie in the bosom of the shallow water, which has given birth to an abundance of fishes. The plethora of fishes is an ideal phenomenon for birds to live on and hence, deserting the cold weather of the surrounding countries, around 208 types of migratory birds visit this magical place during winter. It is even said that once upon a time, “Zamindars” (aristocratic landlords) of Sunamganj used to cruise the haor with boats of large sails, on the business of hunting birds. Furthermore, Tanguar Haor also features an array of different types of reptiles and amphibians which one most certainly cannot find anywhere else very easily.
International Importance and Preservation:
Besides all the natural beauty associated with this fascinating place, the commercial value that comes with it is simply undeniable. Over 140 species of fishes can be found at Tanguar Haor, including Air, Gang Magur, Baim, Tara Baim, Gutum, Gulsha, Tengra, Titna, Garia, Beti, Kakia etc, and therefore, it is one of the richest source of fisheries in the country. In the fiscal year of 1999-2000, the government earned over Tk. 70 lakhs from the fisheries of Tanguar Haor alone. In addition to the marine life harbored in its waters, the haor is also home to numerous endangered wetland plants like Hijal (Barringtonia acutangula), Karach (Pongamia pinnata), Ban Tulsi (Ocimum americanum) and 200 other such species. Previously, due to the over exploitation of its natural resources, the area was in a critical state and so, shortly after discovering its significance, the Government of Bangladesh announced Tanguar Haor as an “Ecologically Critical Area” in 1999. Afterwards, in 2000, the haor was declared as a wetland of international importance (a Ramsar site). Since then measures have been taken to preserve the natural ecosystem and surroundings of that place, mostly from the tourism sector.