Saturday, March 14, 2009
Last weekend I visited Birisiri with some friends. It is about 170 km north of Dhaka, in Netrakona district. We left on Friday morning and returned Saturday night. The drive is approximately 4.5-5 hours each way, if there are no nasty jams. The last 30kms (1.5 hours) are difficult - a broken road full of potholes. Birisiri is a remote and tranquil place near the Shomeshwari river.
Just like other places, kids go to school in Birisiri...
...then there is the morning commute!
You can run into traffic in Birisiri...
... and there are the inevitable traffic jams.
In winter, Shomeshwari can be crossed easily...
...but you have to hold on to your belongings.
Shomeshwari provides livelihood for a lot of people, eg, boatmen...
...but for others it is a place for fun...
...or basking in the sun...
While some are playful...
...others are just plain shy.
This area has history. There were several rebellions by the Hajong people against unjust taxes, first against the British then against the Pakistanis. Some were led by Mr. Moni Singh, a revered socialist leader, who hailed from here. He was actually the son of the richest landowner of the area. Here is a monument to the Hajong rebellions.
Today, a different kind of change: solar panel on a store.
Nearby are some clay mines among hillocks. The water turns blue due to minerals.
Another view of this blue water.
We stayed and ate at the YWCA. They were friendly and efficient. Rooms came with attached bath (commodes), cold water only, and they supplied mosquito nets. Room with two beds cost Tk 600 and four meals came to about Tk 260 per person. We rented an engine boat on the river at Tk550/4 hours, plus lunch money for the boatmen. When we wanted to hire rickshaws to travel 2kms to the hills, three of them wanted Tk 500! So we walked. Next time I will bring my bicycle - it is a great place for cycling.
Shyamgonj (turnoff where the broken road starts): 24-50-42.2N/90-34-27.9E
Kumarkhali (failed rickshaw negotiations):25-09-20.2N/90-39-44.1E
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to my travelling companions: Milu, Mickey, Ranjit and Badol. Thanks to Milu for providing transportation. Special thanks to Amita Sangma, Milton and the staff at YWCA, and to Mikey Leung.