Introducing Chittagong Hill Tracts
Decidedly untypical of Bangladesh topography and culture, the 13,180 sq km of the Hill Tracts comprises a mass of hills, ravines and cliffs covered with dense jungle, bamboo, creepers and shrubs.
About half the tribal population are Chakma; the remainder are mostly Marma (who represent about a third of the tribal population) and Tripura. Among the many much smaller groups, the Mru (called Murung by Bangladeshis) stand out as the most ancient inhabitants of the area.
The culture and lifestyle of the Adivasis (tribal people) are very different from that of the Bangladeshi farmers of the plains. Some tribes are matriarchal, and all have similar housing – made entirely of bamboo and covered by thatched roofs of dried leaves. In most other respects, the tribes are quite different, each having its own distinctive rites, rituals, dialect and dress, eg Chakma women wear indigo-and-red striped sarongs.
The women are particularly skilled in making handicrafts, while some of the men still take pride in hunting with bows and arrows.
The area, full of the flavours of Burma, is utterly fascinating and very beautiful. It also offers a chance to stretch the legs with some exciting hiking between tribal communities.