A partial view of the Chhagalnaiya-Srinagar Border Haat
: It was my long busy working time few days before the Eidul fitr. On one such day my friend Prof Dr Panna Lal Saha called me and asked whether I have planned any trip anywhere during the Eid holidays.
All my friends and relatives are aware that I try to utilise any free time at my disposal in going places_ be it a place of natural beauty or historical importance or of architectural/archeological interest. Traditional festivals, melas and places of popular/economic activities are also not out of the list.
Since Anjana, my wife, had a physician's appointment abroad I did not plan any trip this time. So, when Panna called, I thought, why not? Immediately I set forth on planning a short one. I have been thinking of visiting a Border Haat some day. This is a comparatively new venture all around our borders taken by the Governments of Bangladesh and India for the benefit of remote border area people.
Few years ago, the first two Haats started and the success encouraged the Governments to go for more. At present 5 or 6 are in operation and some more are in the offing. Nearest to Chittagong, amongst the presently operating Haats-- is the one at Chhagalnaiya, Srinagar in Tripura (India) being on the other side of the border.
I did some homework for a day-outing and off we went on June 27, the day after the Eid. There were 4 of us in our car. Journalist Debdulal and Medical Technologist cum columnist Khana Ranjan were supposed to join us from Mirersarai.
Enroute, we spent some time at Mahamaya take National Park. It is a beautiful place resembling Rangamati's Kaptai Lake created by a dam on the Mahamayachhara. The lake has been formed by the water blocked by the dam and extends to different directions amongst Mirersarai hill range. The surface area of the lake is about15 sq.km. There are ample opportunities for boating, swimming, fishing and of course photography in natural setting of hills, jungles and lake. Most of the visitors we saw there were engaged in modern day craze of selfies.
We proceeded next, to the Border Haat. It is situated about 8 km away from the Shuvopur Bridge on Feni River or the old Chittagong-Dhaka road, upzila sadar is a few km from the Haat. We had to park our car by the side of the road and take tickets showing our NID cards. Then, it was a pleasant walks of about half a km paved road. Vehicles are not allowed up to the Haat gate. There was a ticket checking and register entry by BGB personal at the gate and we were in. 50 per cent of the Haat area belonged to us, the balance to India of course. The zero point Border Pillar was at the center painted in the respective national colours on the two sides. Half of the shops belonged to Bangladeshi traders and the other half to Indians. Textiles, food stuff and cosmetics were the main sellable from Indian side. From our side it was fishes, dry fishes, Pran products, etc. There was a festive mood all around.
It was a meeting place for relatives who live on different sides of the border. It is an unique opportunity for them. The Haat area has a barbed wire fencing and people could come in and out by showing identity through a single gate to ensure that there is no trespassing. BSF, BGB, BD police and Tripura police people were also moving about leisurely in the Haat, since, they did not have to deal with any untoward incident. I have enjoyed the vibration of the Haat in its liveiness, simplicity and festive mood.
To top up the day's events, we made a visit to Shamsher Gazi's place near to a place called Jagannath Sonapur, also on the border. Shamsher Gazi was a hero of his time in the middle of the eighteenth country. Shamsher's military acumen paved the way to his rise as the ruler of Chakla Roshnabad(Grater Comilla and good part of greater Noakhali).
He was a successful ruler of his time establishing schools, digging lakes for usable and potable water, establishing acceptable revenue system, dealing with both Hindu and Muslim subjects judiciously.
He was Nawab of Tripura for a few years. In Tripura he is regarded as a villain but in Feni area of Bangladesh he is still remembered as a Tiger.
On our return way to Chittagong, we had a quick visit of the Muhuri project area. It has rich natural beauty, boating facility, windmill operation for electricity production and on top of all that many fishery projects.
By 7 in the evening we were already in Chittagong. So, you see how much you, can cover in a day, if you draw a neat plan of travelling and your companions are of the same tune to cooperate and not have diverse interest.