For many of the Bangladeshis, there are only two summer destinations in the country: one can go to either Cox’s Bazar for a beach vacation, or one can go to the nearby Chittagong Hill Tracts to Rangamati, which has earned the sobriquet of Lake City of Bangladesh. As might be expected of any place nestled in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Rangamati is rich in environmental wonders, rippling with the vibrant colours of nature. As such, people tend to come here to commune with the environment at its best, engaging in a variety of activities such as fishing, cruising, speedboating, trekking, and more.
The eponymous district in which this city is located is actually the biggest of all the districts in the country. The city takes its sobriquet from the fact that it is situated right on the edge of a huge lake, the manmade Kaptai Lake. At its deepest part, this lake is a full 150 metres from surface to bottom, although it averages out to a mean depth of about 30 metres. This enormous lake was the result of the construction of the local dam, which has a fairly dark past: the dam’s construction led to the displacement of thousands of locals from their homes and flooded a good part of the arable land in the area, among other things.
There are a variety of attractions here, aside from the gorgeous lake itself. For one thing, there is the famous Hanging Bridge, which Bangladeshis call “Jhulonto Bridge” and which is quite well-known in the country. Then there is the Gagra waterfall. The people themselves are a delight too, for this is a region rich in tribal cultural heritage; over half of the people in the district belong to the tribal category. As such, one may also expect to see some interesting things in the indigenous museum in the town, as well as among the people themselves. The local flavour is patent in many ways and in many places, and one need only walk around the area and do a bit of exploration (preferably with the help of a knowledgeable local guide) in the district to get a taste of this flavour.
The town of Rangamati is just about 77 kilometres east of Chittagong. Note that while tourists do regularly come here, its location in the CHT (the acronym for the Chittagong Hill Tracts) does mean that the traveller has to be conscious of some necessities and precautions. The CHT-or a good part of it, anyway-is a place that was only recently pronounced safe for travel again, and there are still some lingering signs of the recent militarisation and conflict in the area. As such, travelling through the area requires the traveller to have his papers and passport ready and in order, as there are multiple checkpoints in this location. Many checkpoints require people passing through to display their permit to travel in the CHT (which means you should definitely not forget to get this) and to register in their logbooks prior to being allowed to go through.