The chaos first shocks you. Then you slowly get entangled within a web of colors, warmth, and togetherness. Gradually, you become a part of it. That is what travel to Bangladesh on a Bangladesh visa does to you. Overwhelm you with its sights and sounds and then snares you within its culture-filled bosom, making you hers, forever.
Where is Bangladesh?
It is situated in the South East Asia region bordering India to the west, north, and east and the Bay of Bengal to the south. It also shares a sliver of a border with Myanmar to the southeast. Being a lowland, Bangladesh is often left to the fate of nature. It keeps facing seasonal natural catastrophes and, like the proverbial Sphinx, rises from the ruins every time.
The capital of Bangladesh is Dhaka, which is also its cultural and economic nerve center. It is going to be the starting point of your journey into the land of the indomitable Bengalis.
These are 13 Reasons why you should travel to Bangladesh right now.
1. Nature's cradle
The country is interspersed with rivers, and to get a feel of the land, one must travel through this riverine maze. Flora and fauna surrounding the water bodies are astonishing. The rivers are teeming with surprises, too. You may encounter the occasional crocodile sunbathing on the banks, herds of elephants on their marching spree, and many more. Bangladesh is also famous for its bamboo forests, and you can see them almost all over the country.
2. The Sundarbans
The name was derived from the Sundari trees; Sundarbans are spread over two countries, India and Bangladesh, owning the larger part of it. Sundarbans is the largest mangrove forest in the world, and a UNESCO announced biodiversity hotspot. This enormous and dense slice of foliage is filled with some of nature's best creations. The Sundarbans is also the home of the famed Royal Bengal Tiger and is rarely seen. There are plenty of other attractions too for the nature lover.
Derived from the famous Dhakeshwari Mandir or Temple, located in the south-western part of the megapolis, Dhaka is the centerpiece of Bangladesh's tremendous growth story. It's a vast city with almost 9 million inhabitants, making it one of the world's densest urban conglomerates. The city is a beehive of activities. Begin with the architecture, and the first thing that will come to mind is Ahsan Manzil. Sonargaon and Lalbagh Fort are also major attractions for the history buff. The city is as chaotic and jam-packed as they come. Look out for the ubiquitous rickshaw, for they are in thousands.
South East Asia is a haven for the gastronome. Dhaka is no different. It ranks high on the street food index, and the cuisine that it offers is mouth-smacking. And it is not just limited to the capital of Bangladesh. Bangladesh provides a plethora of options to the world traveler, though the emphasis is on Bengali food, which I must admit is ethereal.
Most from Bangladesh would prefer to call themselves Bangalis rather than the anglicized Bengali. They are no different from their counterpart from across the border, India. You will find Bangalis on both sides of the border, and other than a slight difference in the dialect of the language, nothing much differentiates them.
Bangladeshis and I would use the term here not to confuse the two nationalities of Bengalis, are a talkative lot. They love to talk, share gossip, and debate on almost every topic. They are calm about social boundaries and prefer to put knowledge way above the pecking order against other inheritances.
Countries are not just mountains and rivers, forts and streets. They are essentially Bangladesh people, and it is those who make or mar a visit. If for nothing else, travel to Bangladesh for its people and experience love and warmth.
6. Cox's Bazaar
Home to the second-longest natural sea beach in the world, Cox's Bazaar is a tourist's delight. It was named in commemoration of the work done by Captain Hiram Cox, an officer employed to the British East India Company. Running on the open beach, with the soft sand touching your heels, needs to be on the "what to do in Bangladesh" list. Or sit and laze while the distant sunsets, as the day slowly blends into the night, Cox's Bazaar is a delight with a beach.
It is one of Bangladesh's top tourist destinations, due to which it will not be difficult to get hold of a hotel room. The other attraction is the seafood. The sheer variety placed in front of you needs to be seen and believed. Bangladesh loves its seafood. And if you are one too, then this is the place to visit.
7. What to do in Bangladesh?
The country has plenty of attractions, as seen from the points aforementioned. Go eating if the cuisine entices you, shopping if that enamors you, or roam the rural landscape of this beautiful country, with no care in the world. The Sundarbans is also an excellent option to visit.
The country has varied pricing like all other places. So you will get different ranges for different products. On the whole, Bangladesh is not a costly country, though comparatively, Dhaka is costly, being the capital of Bangladesh. There are places all over the country where one can get a wholesome meal for less than $1. Conveyance is affordable, too, while crisscrossing the country.
If you are an Indian, traveling to Bangladesh has gotten easier. One can take a bus from Kolkata and Guwahati for Dhaka, train from Kolkata station onboard the Maitree Express, or via flights, plenty of available, throughout the week. Bangladesh also has a well-developed highway system, and traveling to the various parts of the country is not a hassle. There are regional airlines that are affordable. There are also options for private transport, for which a certain amount of negotiation is necessary.
Traveling by road is the most preferred since you can see the vast countryside and its lush green cover.
Bangladesh, like its counterpart in India, has inherited the knack of celebrating festivals. It has a whole lot of them. Despite being a Muslim-dominated country, Bangladesh is fiercely multi-cultural and takes pride in performing the numerous occasions that arise out of religious fervor.
Eid is celebrated in a big way, but so is Durga Puja and Christmas. There are a few Buddhist festivals, too, that are celebrated with equal gusto. Festivals in this part of the world are an eclectic affair, with the lights and sounds amplifying to create a canvas of joy. Visiting Bangladesh during the festivities will surely be one of the best decisions ever taken.
11. Is it safe to travel to Bangladesh?
Are you wondering Is it safe to travel to Bangladesh? Overall, the country is a safe place to visit though there are times it might be mired in political unrest. Travelers are generally safe from such upheavals, and the local authorities take the safety of their citizens quite seriously. You might want to avoid a few shady places, which dot the cities. In general, other than the odd incident, Bangladesh is as safe as any other place on the planet.
12. Music and culture
One cannot end the visit without being a part of a musical soiree. Art and culture are inherent to the lives of the Bangalis. They not just love their renditions but even zealously guard them against the onslaught of rampant modernity.
There are plenty of literary fairs and musical programs that mark the calendar, all year-round. Bangladesh is also home to the Bengali rock bands that are a rage all over the world. Their performances are usually full house and are a must-visit for music lovers. Also, do visit the museums in Dhaka to get a taste of the past. Bangladesh rose from the pit fire of struggle that provided its independence. The Bhasha Dibosh, or Day of the Language, is celebrated to remember the sacrifices made by their freedom fighters.
They say that few Bangladesh languages can drive a lost soul into hope and love. Bengali is one of them. It is a shared language between Bangladesh and West Bengal in India, though there are slight dialect modifications. Bengali, or Bangal, is the predominant Bangladesh language. Get the hang of it, and the rest of the stay in this wonderful land becomes a breeze. The locals will instantly turn you into a demigod for speaking their language. It is much revered, and most of the literature produced in Bangladesh is in Bengali. However, being a multi-cultural nation, English to have its place of honor.
Bangladesh is a labyrinth. It has numerous layers, which slowly peels as you get to know it. It may look to be distant and cold from afar, but the closer you go, the more the facade begins to crumble until you become a part of it or it becomes a part of you.