The magic of the green hillocks shrouded by the mist of the monsoon clouds streaming across the canvas of a setting sun, gives birth to an amazing array of serenity. Strolling across the highland braided pass, the warmth of natural color would drench your spirits to the simplistic, yet an arrogant beauty of the eldest daughter of the Hill-Tracks, Khagrachari.
Driving along the thin braided curves and bends, 250 kilometers off the maddening city life, you will be touched by the first scene of wilderness. The spectacular drive that winds from bend to bend, high to low of the hilly forest and green dunes will surely enchant your soul with pure tranquility. Sudden gushing streams flowing along the road and beneath bridges, aligned with picturesque landscape of green foliage, forms a perfectly aligned canvas. On a slow trail to the land of wonders, 10 km off the main sight of the town, you will find yourself climbing atop a Hill with the government owned Parjatan Motel at one side and the Eco-Park area of “Alu-Tila” at the other. Standing at an average elevation of around 1500 feet, this spot provides a wonderful panorama of the marvelous landscape of the wide valley, marshes, foliage, winding rivers and habitats of the town. Monsoon brings life to these series of hillocks, as the dense summer-monsoon clouds rise above the plains and slowly entangle along the slopes, creating a mysterious sense of a natural-innocence.
Deep within the hearts of Alu-Tila lies channels of mysterious Cave and underwater Springs that sprout along the clouds that break away as fine droplets of mist, kissing the tip of dense green foliage in the hills. One of the channels in particular is open for tourists, is a 150 meter long cave. In the depths of the earth, covered in dense ferns, and cold underground streams, the entrance to the cave is shrouded in secrecy, and the deep-dark route ahead steers a challenge for the adventurous minds. As you enter into the unknown, the cool water stream and the dripping walls of the cave will surely shimmer a tingle down your spine! The bamboo-shoot fire torch will create a ghastly atmosphere, lighting the skeleton of the cave in deep-red, as you slowly & carefully step forward along the slippery rocks, to a complete obscurity. With the floor inundated by flowing water, you need to be extra careful about the depth of the water or cavities in the floor. To add a bit more to the excitement, 50 meters down the channel, the Cave face would turn completely black and the channels will eventually be extremely narrow, as you would need to crawl for about 30 meters in the depths of the earth. This indeed is a great challenge for any claustrophobics! After crawling for a few more exciting meters, walking carefully for a couple more, in complete darkness with no chance of turning back, a distant glow will take you by surprise, which marks the end of the cave! The sudden colors of the day will inundate you in a realm of joy, as you will have to hike a bit more to the exit and out of the cave.
The town itself is situated in the low valley of the surrounding majestic series of hills and mountains that glows into the distance, capped with the dark-white cotton candy clouds. Being one of the largest of the three sisters of the Hill-tracks, Khagrachari offers a teeming ground for trade and commerce for agricultural products which are shipped to other parts of the country. The slopes of the low hills provide the breeding ground for seasonal fruits and vegetables and the local inhabitants make a good living along the picturesque landscape. There are a number of budget hotels in the town, and a few good eat-out places, one of which in particular is called: ‘System-Restaurant’. The shop offers Bengali-cuisine with a local blend of dry-fish, and is an authentic touch to the taste and preference of the people.
Thirty minute drive from the town, at the end of the plane valley, lies the braided hills that shoots up into the distance atop which, sits a small lake named: The Lake of Gods. As the tarmac ends on a calm village near a slow stream, a slow hike on and beyond the realms of the scenic green hilly-dunes makes a way along the lap of highlands. After 45 minutes of hiking up the steep winding slopes, the view would clear off at back-drop, as tedious turmoil eases off with an astounding view of distant low lands and lustrous green landscape dissolving to the blue. Resting atop the shoulder of the hill, around 1200 feet up, a picturesque lake surrounded by the sloping live-green pastures dissolving to the crystal clear glass in deep-blue, will definitely take you by surprise! This is a naturally formed lake, a reservoir of rain-water and a crude blessing to the inhabitants living in these high-lands. With the puffs of cotton candies smeared across the blue tents of the heaven and the bright green grass slopes into the undisturbed water, a perfectly-calm canvas is born.
The innate beauty of Khagrachari is captivated by the array of the green hills and water streams that gives birth to a number of waterfalls, one of which is the Riching waterfall. Carefully hidden at the base of a cramped valley, a narrow stream gently kisses the rocks and paves its way to a beautifully magnificent fall. Walking down the paved slopes of the hills and valleys is an enchanting experience, as the warmth of the bright sun shades and shines the sides of the mountains which are carefully cultivated with seasonal fruits and vegetables. Strolling down the hill, you’ll hear a sweet jingle of merry bells as the top of the waterfall will slowly come into view. The gentle white-waters fathoms it way out from the top, and jingles to a sloped rock and finally to a reservoir below, in an array of sheer magnificence. Carefully hidden away almost around 400 feet below road-level, this waterfall along with the marvelous landscapes around forms an enchanting experience worth having a share.
Monsoon is the queen of all seasons, the beauty of all reasons that captivate the true essence of the magic that entangles the three sisters of the Hill-Tracks. To experience the magnificence, a drive along the braided roads carefully paved in the valleys and tips of the hillocks would be an exciting venture. One of the roads in particular, is the route from Kharachari to Rangamati via Dighinala and Marishya is an astounding scenic experience one should never miss. The sheer drops and rises, the majestic panorama, the clouded hill-tops, the chase of mist & clouds dissolving into sudden deluge, would be one of the best of all delights to remember.
As you slowly walk away from this enchanting wonderland, you will always remember the innate call of the relentless wild and the sweetest endeavor of your heart and soul, as Khagrachari is not only just a place to be, but rather an experience to cherish the true beauty of Bengal.