Tuesday, 23 Apr, 2024
Tuesday, 23 Apr, 2024
The Daily Post

Bandarban’s Chimbuk Hill: Travel Guide for the ‘Darjeeling of Bangladesh’


Bandarban’s Chimbuk Hill: Travel Guide for the ‘Darjeeling of Bangladesh’
Photo: UNB

The hilly trenches of Bandarban offer a heavenly feeling from a surprising height. In Bangladesh, seeing white cotton clouds flowing is nothing new. Chimbuk Hill, known as the “Darjeeling of Bangladesh” for many years, has become a favorite destination for Bangladeshi trekkers. Let's delve into this magical place shrouded in clouds.

Location and Significance of Chimbuk Hill
This hill is also known as Kala Pahar to many locals in Thanchi of Bandarban, a hilly district in the Chattogram division. The distance from the place to the Bandarban district headquarters is about 26 km. Located approximately 2,500 feet above mean sea level, this natural wonder is the third-largest hill in Bangladesh.

Standing at this height, in addition to witnessing the sunrise and sunset, everyone can easily observe the cloud-covered mountains by turning 180 degrees.

Origin of the Naming of Chimbuk

Among the various ethnic communities living in and around these hilly areas, the Mros constitute the majority. Due to their long-standing settlement in the area, their language is reflected in the names of the hills, the jungles, villages, and Jhum fields.

Chimbok Mro was the original inhabitant of this hilly area, and that’s how the hill got its name, Chimbuk, after him. However, among the local Mro, it is still known as 'Yang Bong Hung.' The term 'Hung' is used to signify 'mountain' in the Mro language.

Best Time to Visit Chimbuk Hill
To enjoy panoramic views of the upazilas of Cox's Bazar and Chattogram from the hill's summit, tourists can visit the place during the summer months. During this period, the absence of fog allows for clear visibility of the scenes below. However, during the hot summer days, tourists can suffer from thirst, heat stroke and other health issues due to extreme summer heat.

If the aim is to witness the clouds over the hill, trips can be planned during the autumn and monsoon seasons. The beauty of clouds can be witnessed from September to July. But during the monsoon months the paths can be inaccessible due to heavy rain and landslides. 

During the winter months, trekking Chimbuk hill can be enjoyable due to the availability of cool air. 

Regardless of the season, be it hot or cold, the hill canopy on a full moon night maintains its pristine and authentic allure.

What to See in Chimbuk Hill
The experience begins on the journey to Chimbuk. The hilly regions on both sides of the road demand attention with their captivating gray and green hues. Amidst them, the houses perched on Mro lofts sprawl out. The spiral road, the highest in Bangladesh, creates a thrilling sensation. Any vehicle can navigate this winding road, providing a view that resembles a meticulously planned picture.

During the journey, the spellbinding beauty of Sangu River comes into view amidst the luscious green. 

At the summit of Chimbuk hill, a staircase descends to a spacious square to the south, known as Nab Chatwar. It presents a spectacular place to watch the surroundings. From here, one can enjoy a 180-degree panorama of the surrounding greenery, river, settlements, and the vast sky. 

At the foot of the stairs, there are some charming concrete chair tables, shaded by trees on the east and west sides, offering an ideal spot for late afternoon relaxation or conversation. Chimbuk hill, even with a thousand visitors, can accommodate them all simultaneously.

Another appealing aspect of Chimbuk hill for tourists is the fresh fruit market at the hill's base. Seasonal fruits such as sugarcane, sharifa, plums, and oranges are available, alongside perennial fruits like bananas and papayas.

The local Marmas inhabit this area and are frequently seen in the markets. Additionally, a few Burmese and other indigenous products are also on display.

How to Get to Chimbuk Hill from Dhaka

Chimbuk adventurers must first reach Bandarban. The most convenient way is by bus, as only bus routes connect Dhaka directly to Bandarban, albeit taking a longer time. Bandarban-bound buses depart from Kalyanpur, Gabtali, Kalabagan, Mohakhali, Jatrabari, or Fakirapool. Depending on the company and service (AC and non-AC), tickets can be purchased for a range of BDT 850 to BDT 1,800 per head.

For those opting for train travel, reaching Chattogram is the initial step since there is no railway directly from Dhaka to Bandarban. Chittagong-bound trains can be boarded from the airport or Kamalapur railway station, with ticket prices ranging from BDT 285 to BDT 788 per person, depending on the class.

However, the quickest mode of travel is by plane. Flights departing from Dhaka's Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport land in Chattogram within 1 hour. Ticket prices for these flights range from a minimum of BDT 3,500 to a maximum of BDT 11,175 per head. Booking tickets at least 1 month in advance may result in slightly lower prices.

Regardless of whether traveling by train or plane, upon reaching Chattogram, you need to board a Bandarban-bound bus from either the Dampara bus stand or the BRTC terminal. The fare for these local buses ranges from BDT 220 to BDT 300 per person.

After arriving in Bandarban, transportation to Chimbuk is readily available. CNGs, SUVs, or locally modified Chander Gari can reach the destination in approximately one and a half hours from the Sadar bus stand. Renting a local vehicle called Chander Gari can cost from BDT 2,000 to BDT 4,000. An advantage of using this mode of transport is the ability to make stops at various points along the way for quick photo opportunities.

It's crucial to remember that no vehicles are permitted on the Chimbuk-Thanchi route after 4 pm. Therefore, when planning your trip to Chimbuk, keep this restriction in mind.

Food and Accommodation
Due to its remote location, Chimbuk lacks residential hotels, and the nearby resorts tend to be relatively expensive. Overnight stays can be arranged at the Deputy Commissioner's rest house with prior permission. Alternatively, for more convenient overnight accommodations, resorts in the Nilgiri or hotels in the city of Bandarban are recommended. Room rents vary from BDT 600 to BDT 3,000 per day based on their quality.

For meals, there is a canteen operated by the Bandarban Army, serving as the primary option for breakfast and lunch around this hill. Additionally, local eateries are available near the Chimbuk tourist center, where lunch can be prearranged.

A little below and at the foot of Chimbuk lies the fresh fruit market.

Nearby Attractions

Typically, tourists explore Chimbuk in conjunction with Milanchari and Shailaprapat Falls. Additionally, the Nilgiri, a popular tourist spot located 20 km away from Chimbuk, offers another compelling destination. Furthermore, taking a short amount of time allows for visits to the villages of the Mro people. A close observation of the simple routines, lives and culture of the people adds a distinct flavor to the hill sightseeing.

Wrapping Up

A trip to Bandarban's Chimbuk Hill, a slice of Darjeeling in Bangladesh, can be an experience of a lifetime. While spending time basking in the full moon at a height of 2,500 feet, like the Mro community, every tourist can’t help but marvel at the majestic beauty.