Birishiri: where the turquoise flows

Photo and text by Hridita Anisha

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BirishiriThe lake of Birishiri is reputed to have a tinge of an exceptional greenish-blue – hence the title. Birishiri is in Netrokona: a place quite close to Dhaka, and thus can be visited in a span of two days or short.The easiest way is to hop on a bus from Mohakhali that takes you straight to Shushong Durgapur or Birishiri. And even though it is a rather linear journey, one must be warned about the roads. The roads are full of craters and the journey can be painful to your back. But this hardship is what allows the seclusion in Durgapur.
The entire bus journey may take around six hours depending on the roads, and later comes the journey of auto-rickshaws. Although there are two kinds of transportation to travel around the Birishiri region, auto-rickshaws and motorcycles, the rickshaws are highly recommended. Not only is it the cheaper option but the rickshaw ride also allows a descriptive tour, letting the visitor take time and view the scenery. The rickshaw pullers are experienced enough to handle tourists with various information on the locality of Birishiri. The rickshaw ride costs around five hundred to a thousand taka depending on how much you can bargain. It usually helps to have a trustworthy local bargaining for you so it is good to go around asking for tips like a keen traveler.
Birishiri2The road to the lake is also in a haphazard condition and an adventurous one indeed. There is the river Someshwari to be crossed. Travellers can use either boats or auto-rickshaws to go to the other side. At certain seasons it might require you to push the rickshaw as well in places, but that just adds to the fun. The wait ends at the banks made of China clay! The white china clay is the dish of nature that holds the turquoise blue water and the monsoon only adds up to the beauty. The reflection of the clay hills on the blue water is ever so serene that the rush of the city life is immediately forgotten.
The Ranikhong church is located on the way to the Bijoypur BDR camp. The church was built somewhere around 1910-1915 and overlooks the Shomeshwari river. The hillock where the church resides gives a picturesque scene of the river below. The river, too, is an epitome of tranquility. Travelers can take their time and rest on the banks of this river just like the old times.
The area is heavily forested with orange trees, Gojarie trees and even an abundance of cinnamon and bay leaves (traditional spices) can be found. Near Kulapara, travellers will also find two temples of Ramkrishna and Loknath Baba.
Birishiri3Another exceptional attraction is the only cultural centre established in the greater Mymensingh known as the Birishiri Cultural Academy. The academy offers courses on traditional tribal dance, song, drama and other cultural activities. The academy also exhibits the diverse ethnological livelihood of the Garos, Banai, Koch and Hajong tribes. The visit encourages another short tour to the Garo hills to experience the ethnic tribes first hand.
The Garo hills are in the district of Sherpur. You can find a few mosques and mazar that hold the cultural heritage of the past 600 years in their architecture. Some of them may even remind you of Greek architectural values. But to encounter the tribes personally, one must trek the hills.
The entire tour may need up to a couple of days and to stay the night both the city of Netrokona and Sherpur offers good hotels. The Bichitra Guest House and Hotel Imran International in Netrokona or the Kakoli Guest House in Sherpur are all neat places to get some rest. It is essential to book hotel rooms beforehand to ensure a safe trip and the process has become even easier with the help of Jovago!

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