Damp and green Sylhet division, a place of myriad waterways and gentle bumplike hills crowned in lurid green tea plantations, is one of the more scenically attractive parts of the country. Aside from the regional capital, Sylhet, which is a town of worldly ambition and religious contentment, this is a state kitted out with the naturalist in mind. Such people will find endless opportunities for entertainment in the forests and lakes that weave a tapestry around the numerous rivers and fruit plantations.
It is tea, though, that is the real heart of life here. Sylhet division produces over 55 million kgof tea annually, with more than 150 tea estates spread over 40, 000 hectares. It’s the chance to visit a tea estate and learn something about the processes that culminate in your morning cuppa that has put the friendly town of Srimangal, in the south of the division, firmly on the fledgling Bangladesh tourist map.
The area along the northern border of this diverse region, at the foot of the Khasi-Jaintia hills, is tribal land and for the adventurous anthropologist the opportunity to make friends with the shy Khashia (or Khasi), Pangou and Tripura people is an exciting notion. Another major tribal group of the area are the Monipuri (Manipuri), much more integrated into mainstream Bangladeshi life. The best-known feature of their culture is the tribe’s classical dance, which tells the story of Krishna’s love affair with the female cowherd Radha. She symbolises human spirituality, while Krishna is the embodiment of divine love. Regardless of cultural background this love and spirituality is what shines through in all the people you meet here.