The only freshwater swamp forest in Bangladesh, Ratargul Swamp Forest, is located at Gowainghat in Sylhet. It is well known as the Amazon of Bengal. The area of this forest is 3325.61 acres. However, in 1983, 504 acres of forest was declared as a wildlife sanctuary. Ratargul Jalaban has located about 26 km from Sylhet city. The evergreen forest is located on the banks of the Goain River. Known as the Sundarbans of Sylhet, this forest is underwater for four to seven months of the year. Lots of tourists come here during the rainy season. At this time you have to visit the forest by small dinghy boat. Here, various species of wild animals and birds roam on the branches of trees. It is a good time to visit in the rainy season as the water dries up in winter. There are innumerable species of plants including Hijal, Karach, Varuna and Muta in this forest. There are about 25 species of water-tolerant plants in this huge forest. In Sylhet, murta or party tree is known locally as ‘rata tree’. This forest is named Ratargul after the Rata tree. However, Karach tree is most seen here. Although Ratargul wetland is mainly natural, under the supervision of Bangladesh Forest Department, a large number of water-tolerant trees such as cane, kadam, hijal, murta and other species have been planted here. Travelling by boat in the clear waters of the haor is a different experience. Among the animal diversity, most snakes and jokes are seen in this forest. In addition, monkeys, Monitor Lizard, squirrels, otters, wild cats, Mongoose, fox and many other wild animals can be seen in this forest. Birds include white buck, Kingfisher, kanibak, tia, moyna, bulbuli, pankauri, hawk etc. In winter, thousands of guest birds can be seen here. During the monsoon season, a large number of tourists come here to take a boat ride along the Goain River in the forest.
How to go:
If you want to go to Ratargul Jalaban, you have to go to Sylhet first. The distance of road from Dhaka to Sylhet is 241 km and 319 km by rail. From Dhaka’s Sayedabad bus station, buses of Sohag, Hanif, Al-Mobaraka, Shyamoli, Ena, Unique, Mamun, Saudia, Green Line, Mitali etc. leave for Sylhet. It takes 4 to 6 hours. Rent for non-AC 400 to 480 TK and AC 800 to 1200 TK. Trains from Kamalapur Railway Station like Parabat Express, Jayantika Express, Sa Pahariya Express, Udayan, Upban Express, Kalsi Express etc. leave for Sylhet. Rent varies from 80 to 1000 TK. By air, Bangladesh Biman, Jet Air, Novo Air, United Air, Regent Air and US-Bangla Biman depart daily from Dhaka Shahjalal International Airport for Sylhet. The rent usually varies from TK 3,000 to TK 11,000. Then you can go to Ratargul from Sylhet in several ways. One of them is to go to Gowainghat with CNG from Amberkhana Point in Sylhet. In this case CNG fare is 500 TK. Then you have to reserve a trawler from Goainghat to Ratargul. Trawler rental 800-1200 TK.
You can take a bus from Sylhet to Jaflong and get off at Sarighat. The rent is 50 TK per person. You have to go to Goainghat by Sarighat auto or baby taxi. From there you have to reserve a trawler and go to Ratargul.
Besides, you can go to the motor ghat with CNG from Amberkhana point in Sylhet. CNG fare is 200 to 300 TK. Ratargul can be reached directly by boat from the motor ghat.
How to go low cost:
If you want to go to Sylhet from Dhaka at low cost, you can choose non-AC bus or train. Bus fare is 400 TK and train fare is 80-200 TK. Then go to the motor ghat with CNG from Amberkhana point in Sylhet. CNG fare is 200 to 300 TK. Dinghy boats can be taken directly to the forest from the motor ghat. Dinghy boats can be visited for TK 200 to TK 300 per hour. This is the easiest and cheapest way to get to Ratargul.
How to go luxuriously:
From Dhaka to Sylhet you can go by AC bus, AC train and air if you want to go at ease. AC bus fare is 800 to 1100 TK per person. And on the train – AC berth 696 TK, AC seat 480 TK. Air fares range from TK 3,000 to TK 11,000. After that you can go to Ratargul via Goainghat of Sylhet with ease. For this, take CNG from Amberkhana Point in Sylhet to Gowainghat. You can go to Ratargul by reserving a trawler from Goain Ghat.
Where to stay:
There are no good hotels or rest houses in the vicinity of Ratargul Swamp Forest. So tourists have to stay in Sylhet city. It takes less time to come and go so you can stay in Sylhet. There are many hotels to stay in Sylhet city. You will find all kinds of hotels according to your needs. Below are the addresses of some of the hotel rest houses:
1. Hotel Star Pacific
2. Hotel Roseview
Address: Shahjalal Suburb Sylhet
3. Hotel Hilltown
Address: VIP Road Sylhet
4. Hotel Garden Inn
Address: Link Road Sylhet
5. Hotel Fortune Garden
Address: Nayorpool Sylhet
. Hotel Dallas
Address: Jail Road
. Gulshan Center
How to stay low cost:
You will find quality hotels at low rent in Lalbazar area of Sylhet. You will get a room there for 400 to 1000 TK.
How to stay luxuriously:
Hotels like Hotel Hill Town, Hotel Roseview, Hotel Star Pacific, Hotel Fortune Garden etc. have high-quality rooms. The rent of these hotels including AC is from 1000 to 5000 TK. You can also stay at different resorts.
What to eat:
There is no good food hotel in the vicinity of Ratargul swamp forest. So you have to eat in Sylhet city or take food from Sylhet city and then go to Ratargul. Panchbhai, Panshi, Bhojanbari, Palki food hotels are famous in Zinda Bazar area of Sylhet. You can eat Gani Mia’s roasted khichuri at Hadarpar market.
How to eat low cost:
It does not cost more than 200 TK to eat and drink in different normal food hotels in Sylhet.
How to eat in a luxurious way:
There are many famous restaurants in Sylhet city. Five brothers, panshi, dining house palanquin are the most popular. These hotels have AC system. Almost all kinds of delicious and high-quality food is served here
Advice to do that!
Return to Sylhet before evening. Be careful when entering the water. When renting a vehicle, be careful. Can prove in groups to reduce costs. Keep some essentials with you – food saline, tracking shoes, light medicine, clean water and dry food. Dial 999 in case of emergency.
Advice not to do those things!
If you don’t know how to swim, don’t go into deep water. Don’t be there after dusk. Do not do anything that harms the environment and nature. Do not pollute the environment by throwing plastic packets of food here and there.