Seven travelers journey to the mystical Rainforest & Tea Gardens in Sreemongal, Sylhet
It was an exceptional night. The train moved in comfortable speed and the wind caressed my face. I looked outside the window in awe. Silent flashes of lightning lit up the sky. And oh! How stunningly the sky changed color from crimson to lavender to blue-black.
Within minutes we were inside the dense Lawacherra Rainforest. It was pitch-black and the place could not have looked spookier. This is it! My soul danced in joy. Maybe it was the silent storm or maybe it was the idea of being far from home. Whatever it was, my mind was already in a good place.
The train dropped us off at the Sreemongal railway station at 4’o clock in the Morning. It was the dead part of the night and people were asleep. My friends and I waited eagerly for the sun to rise so that we could catch a CNG. We waited impatiently and joked about the Sun not rising. To our surprise, the first streaks of light colored the sky and we jumped to get some takeaway breakfast and catch a cab to the rest house.
The Rest House inside the Rainforest
There is one special rest house deep inside Lawacherra National Park that is reserved only for the army official and their family members. Yes, we were lucky to get a booking in that rest house. I had to make a few calls but it was worth the wait. The path to the forest was mesmerizing. We were passing the Sreemongal tea gardens. There is nothing like watching the Tea Gardens in Monsoon. The tea gardens vibrated with purity and mysticism. It’s astounding how some places reminds us of God and enlightens our existence. The forest and the Tea Gardens of Sreemongal seem to be those kind of places.
The journey to the rest house took a while. The CNG dropped us off right in front of the rest house. The rest house was quite decent and secured. It had three rooms with one dining room, a kitchen, one living room and a large verandah.
Trekking Inside Lawacherra
We didn’t waste time. As soon as we were done with breakfast, off we went exploring! I had cycling in my mind but we all settled for trekking inside the forest. How hard could it be? Turns out I was wrong. Hear me out ok? If you have an intense phobia for leeches then trekking inside the forest is not for you. No one told me about leeches! Not even the internet! Maybe I am exaggerating a tad bit. Ok maybe alot because I remember the look my tour guide gave me when I shrieked and jumped at every step I took.
In order to trek you have to hire a tour guide. Our tour guide was quite friendly. He explained in depth about the diverse trees and the species that live inside the forest. Did you know that there are 460 different species in Lawacherra alone? I understood then that the species of animals, insects and trees together define the Mighty Lawacherra. Gosh! The number of different species of spiders we witnessed! We had to stoop very low and almost crawl not to destroy the gigantic spider webs.
Finally, after watching a smelly wild boar run away four feet from us, crossing a deadly bridge and learning the history of Lawacherra, we finished our trek.
A walk in the Tea Gardens in Rain
After resting for a while we went outside for a walk in the Tea Gardens. One of my friend’s uncle owned a small tea factory and house in the midst of the tea Gardens. Therefore, we thought it would be nice to pay a visit. Just minutes after we got out, it started raining. Right at that moment, everything changed.
If you ask me what I love about Bangladesh the most. I would tell you it’s the ‘Rain’. Monsoon in Bangladesh is aesthetically pleasing. I love the way the sky and the earth come together. In my perspective – It’s nature dancing. The scent of mud; the pure drops of rain-all of it changes my very existence; makes me feel deeply connected to nature.
After walking along the highway of the forest we headed to the Gardens. However, there was one major problem. We couldn’t find any transport. Something got into me. Yes, it was the rain and I waved crazily at a moving truck. The truck stopped and agreed to take us to the Tea Gardens. Giddy with excitement, we hopped in the back of the truck. For me this simple and crazy truck ride was one of the best part of the trip.
Soon the truck dropped us off to our desired part of the highway and from there we hired a CNG to take us to a specific tea garden.
The Tea Factory
It started raining like cats and dogs during sunset. Nevertheless, we climbed up and down the slippery steps as we headed towards the factory.
The Tea Factory was quite humble. I never imagined that tea making business was taken so seriously. Firstly, tea leaves seems to differ from one another. Secondly, different production methods also produce different qualities & textures of tea. Finally, all the different types of tea are mixed as per the desired recipe. Therefore, all tea recipes are not the same. Ispahani differs from Taaza and Taaza from Finlay. I bet all this time you thought differently!
My friend’s uncle was very generous to give one huge loose tea packet to each of us as parting gifts. Night settled. So, we decided to head back to our abode.
The trip to Sreemongal was an adventurous one. One that was filled with quests for different species and moments of spiritual thought. Walking in the rain made me comprehend the powerful connection that we all have but often overlook. That, we are all made up of the earth, and thus maybe, we develop an intrinsic connection to nature. Without knowing we long for the trees, the earth, the sea or the rain. We long it all. Perhaps nature is really our real home.