Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Mandar Bariya beach excursion

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there is a wonderful beach called Mandar Bariya in Satkhira which very few people of the country know about

We know of many beaches including Cox’s Bazar Beach, Kuakata Beach, St. Martin’s Beach, Silent Island which are visited by millions of people every year.

But there is a wonderful beach called Mandar Bariya in Satkhira which very few people of the country know about. If not for the posting in Satkhira, I myself would never have known about this beach.

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However, after my posting in Satkhira in 2004, I came to know about this beach from various sources. There was an office of the Forest Department at Buri Gwalini in Shyamnagar Upazila, where an AFC (Assistant Conservator of Forests) lived, his name was probably Mr. Rezaul Karim.

Once while visiting various offices in Shyamnagar with Mr. Rezaul Karim there is no detailed idea about Sundarbans. Also there is no trace of Mandar Bariya Beach. No idea how to go. Though there are no human beings there, the forest department has a bit of office where six staff are stationed. That bit office has a wireless that is battery operated. It is used to communicate with the mainland in case of emergency.

Their required food, fuel oil, dishwash etc. are delivered together for 10/12 days. I imagined a lot in my mind about the living of these six unseen people on an isolated island. A strong desire to go there arose in my mind. I have read in many stories and novels that after shipwreck many sailors or tourists take refuge in such islands and fight with nature to survive. Mandar Bariya Beach is about 80 km from Buri Gwalini by river.

The distance from Satkhira district headquarters to Buri Goalini is about 70 km. So day by day it was very difficult to travel from Satkhira to Manda. However, a few months later, in the winter of 2005, we did a program to increase Mandar. I left early in the morning from Satkhira Sadar. In about an hour and a half we reach Buri Gwalini. There is a small launch and a speedboat attached to go to Mandar.

Because it is not possible to carry the fuel required to travel the entire road in a speedboat. Again, if the entire road is launched, it is not possible to return in one day. AFC Sahib gave us a guide and a forest guard with a rifle for security. To save time we did not have breakfast on the launch. Afternoon lunch is arranged at the launch itself. Our journey starts with Kholpetua river. Many small and big rivers fall on the way.

A few minutes into the journey we take a few minute break at the Kalagachi Bit Office. From the beginning to the end of the journey, we went to see the beautiful scenery of the Sundarbans. After going to the launch about 40 km along the river, we had lunch at one in the afternoon and left the launch at two in the afternoon and started the journey by speedboat. Within a few hours we reached the much coveted Mandar Bariya beach. 8 KM: The Sundarbans on one side of this long beach, and the huge waters of the Bay of Bengal in front of it are all mesmerizing.

There is no human footfall, the six staff of the Beat Office are the only inhabitants of the island. Next to the office is a pond which is the only source of fresh water on the island. Apart from these six people, Royal Bengal Tigers are regular users of this pond.

I saw fresh tiger footprints on the beach, I came to know from the staff that it had come to drink water a few hours ago. Despite reluctance to listen to their stories of life and regular encounters with tigers, we wandered around the beach for just one and a half hours and started our return journey by speedboat.

On the way back, we felt as if we were back at the launch while reminiscing about that hour and a half. The rest of the way, while sitting on the launch, having tea, coffee and breakfast, we came to Buri Gwalini Ghat in the evening. As everyone was very tired, I got into the car without waiting anywhere else. I reached home at 8:30 pm.

I have had the opportunity to visit many beaches in the country and abroad during my working life and after retirement, but the joy and feeling of that Mandar Bariya beach trip is still vivid in my memory.

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