Into the caves

By Muhammad Ibrahim Ibne Towhid

Photos by Abu Muhammad Hasan Rony

a1

I have had a fascination for caves ever since reading Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleburry Finn during my school days. During my recent visit to Khagrachhari, my long-awaited dream of venturing into a cave came true.

Before going to Khagrachhari we had to notify the law enforcers about our tour to the area and also provided our details. While going to the city, we had to climb across three mountains.

And near these mountains is the Alutila cave, also called the ‘mysterious tunnel’. Located inside a 1,000 metre high hill and surrounded by deep green forest, I was amazed by the sight of the cave.

While entering I took help of a local guide who showed me the way and told me some stories. I held a torch in my hand and went down around 300 concrete stairs. This was the first time I was lighting a ‘moshal’ and the idea of entering the cave was just exciting.

a2

Down the stairs I found the entrance of the cave. Although it was a winter afternoon, the inside of the cave was colder and wind was swooshing through. As I was already cautioned about the slippery edges, I had to fold my trousers and carry my shoes in my hand.

The inside of the cave was very dark and I had to take each step very carefully just so that I do not hit any rock and wound myself.

a3

I walked slowly and it took me about 10 minutes to see the light at the other end. I wish the cave was longer. The cave did have some cross roads and I could only navigate with the help of my guide.

I learnt that during some times of the year, the water in the cave rises to knee level and one needs to be careful while entering the cave then.  The whole experience left me exhilarated.