On our second (and last) morning, we packed our bags, and left our basic, but very nice eco-lodge to go to Baikka Beel. By the way, during our week-end there, Srimongal was the coldest spot in Bangladesh with temperatures down to 5.9 Celsius (about 42 Fahrenheit). We certainly felt it at night and in the morning.
A beel is a pond (or wetland) with static water (as opposed to moving water in rivers and canals – typically called khaals), in the Ganges-Brahmaputra flood plains of the Eastern Indian states of West Bengal and Assam and in the country of Bangladesh. Baika Beel is part of a larger water body called a Haor (a depression shaped like a bowl, flooded every year during monsoon) and part of a successful environmental project to save Bangladesh’ wetlands. Baika Beel has been a sanctuary since 2003, and native swamp forest trees were planted to restore diversity. Fishing, hunting and the collection of aquatic plants is forbidden by the community, and as a result, fish (on which the local community depends for survival) are more abundant and large flocks of birds have started coming back, including species which had totally disappeared for many years, and others globally theatened.
During the monsoon, almost half the length of these trees (below) is immersed by water.
We saw only one lotus flower, and it was a pink so radiant that it seemed artificial and I wondered if it was a piece of plastic. See it ? We could not come close enough for me to take a good picture ; the water was not deep, and the zoom of my camera not powerful enough for a good close-up…
Getting the boats ready for our little troupe to embark.
The children were the first to jump onboard.
Below is the area where the birds sleep, at night.
After Baikka Beel, we had very little time left before hitting the road again for the long journey back to Dhaka. Our guide wanted to show us some tea gardens, a rubber plantation, and a red hill. I’m not sure if it’s called red hill after the reddish canopy of the trees covering it or because of the red clay that borders the river snaking at the bottom. The sun was out, and we were able to shed jackets and fleece. As soon as they saw the river, the children jumped in, ignoring the adults’ numerous warnings not to get wet – most of them were out of clean clothes. But of course, within minutes, they threw caution to the wind and got soaked, one after the other, pretty much from the neck down. Unfortunately, the battery of my camera died just then, so I don’t have pictures of them frolicking in the river. Just trust me when I tell you they had a grand time.