Discovering Rangabali

by Sajjad Ahamed

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It takes nearly 14 hours to reach GalachipaUpazila of Patuakhali district form Dhaka by launch, followed by another one and a half hours to reach the Panpattighat from Galachipa launch station by local-three wheelers. There are two mini-launch boatsto cross the Agunmukha River which sailsoffevery hour during the daylight. It takes almost an hour to cross the river to reach Rangabali.

So it’s almost a 17 hour-long journey to reach one of the remote coastal habitation of the country. But it seems to be one of the most hazardous destinations of Bangladesh to reach. As you have to cross the ferocious Agunmukha River, which gained its name for being the junction where seven rivers meet and continue their journey to the sea. This is why this river remains perilous throughout the year even during the winter season. Local people do not dare to cross this river after daylight. They call this river the‘Dangerous beauty’.

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Well, after the risky and adventurous journey, there is an Edenawaiting for the tourist. Rangabali is an island completely separated from the main land of Patuakhali district. It was recognised as an upazila in 2011 including five unions like BaroBaisdia, ChotoBaisdia, Char Kajol, Char Montaz and Coralia. All these unions are separate islands. The nearly 720 square kilometer area is home to a hundred thousand people..

According to Banglapedia, a group of Rakhain people were the first settlers of the island in 1784,  following persecution by the Burmese king. The descendants of those families still live in Rangabali.

If anybody has the desire to enjoy the pure natural beauty, village life and breathe fresh air, he must visit this island. The main tourist attraction here is the ‘Sonar char’, located in the extreme south of the upazila. Sonar char has a fresh beach and a mangrove forest range. During the journey to this beach through the river, one will experience captivating scenery of forest on the both sides of the bank. Herds of duck and egret are likely to be spotted.

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Most of the people of this island have never seen any four wheelers vehicle. The transportation available are boats, engine trawlers, motorcycles, engine van (Nasiman) and rickshaws.

People of this area are totally dependent on solar electricity. As technology is hard to reach there, the livelihood of this region is based on fishing and agriculture.

The health care system is fragile. There is only one welfare center, two community clinics and two clinics across Rangabali. People here have to depend on the GalachipaUpazilla health complex and Patuakhali city hospitals. But the transportation system is so poor that in most of the cases, people die before reaching the hospital.

Despite all the problems, Rangabali is great spot to visit for a short tour.