Bangladesh is blessed with many sea beaches including the longest sea beach in the world. The sandy sea beach in Cox's bazaar stretching up to Teknaf is around 125 kilometers long. This rare unbroken sea beach is rich in natural beauty and amazing views. Besides Cox's bazaar there are a number of sea beaches in the country. Patenga sea beach in Chittagong and Jamtala sea beach in Sundarbon are also attracting visitors. The coral island Sent Martin is surrounded by sea beaches. Recently, another two sea beaches have surfaced in the Bay of Bengal in southern corner of the country.
The nature lovers can enjoy a momentum pleasure while visiting these virgin beaches which are still almost untouched. There are many small and big islands as well in the costal belt of Bangladesh particularly in the estuary of the river Meghna. Those islands are mainly in Noakhali, Barisal and Bhola districts. These islands are developed with the changing course of rivers and surfacing new lands in the area. Those newly born islands are mainly covered by mangrove forest. Hardly any one got any sea beach earlier. But recently two virgin sea beaches were discovered in such two new born islands.
The beautiful and pristine sea beaches are awaiting tourists and visitors. One of the newly surfaced sandy beaches, with an unspoiled pristine beauty, is located around 40 kilometers away from Hatia Upazila in Noakhali district. The sea beach surfaced at the southern part of Damar Char.
On one side of the island, a calm and quiet untouched beach lay on the lap of the sea, on the other side thousands of birds chirped in the air, amid herds of cattle grazing around on the vast green grassland along the beach. When I reached the sea beach on a Wednesday afternoon in 2013, the air was filled with the sweet warbling of birds. The flocks of migratory ducks in rows were swinging on the smaller waves in the nearby sea water. Surprisingly, such a natural gift had remained unnoticed by the government officials and people in the mainland .
The beach is regularly charmed with the melodies of thousands of local and migratory birds. Birds flock there for the small fishes available on the swampy land along the long sea beach. Sun rises and sunsets are equally spectacular making this spot an idyllic haven for tourists and nature lovers. The sandy sea beach developed in the southern part of Damar Char on the opposite side of the River Meghna.
One third of Damar Char is covered by a mangrove forest and the remaining two third lands are green grassland. Herds of cows and buffaloes belonging to the influential of Hatia and Nijhum Dwip, move about freely. Ordinary people hardly go there because of fear of pirates who lurk about in gangs, the remoteness of the area being ideal for hideouts. They take easy shelter in the nearby forest to hide from the law enforcing agents.
The existence of such a sea beach was unknown to the people of Noakhali and Hatia. Even the people in Nijhum Dwip did not know that such an attractive sea beach exists in Damar Char. The locals call the area which is covered by white and black sands 'Dail' or 'Sagartila'. In local language, Dail means 'where sand piles up'.
"We do not know the existence of any sea beach in Damar Char. There is a Dail where lot of sands were piled up by the sea water," said Mehraj Uddin, chairman of Nijhum Dwip Union Parishad. He said people go there for fishing in the nearby sea and for catching big size crabs on the surface.
When asked whether the government conducted any survey on Damar Char the UP chairman said, the lands in Dail are still under the ministry of forest and surveys are mainly conducted on the lands which become cultivable. According to him, the total size of Damar Char would be around 30 kilometers long and 20 kilometers wide. The government officials are also not aware of anything such development in Damar Char.
I reached Sagartila on November 20, in 2013 at around 12 noon. The water along the beach was white mixed with sand but the locals said it turns light blue in mid- winter. The beach remains up all year round and never submerges not even in high tide except if there is a big natural calamity like a tsunami or cyclone. "We never heard of Sagartila submerging except during a high surge like when there is a danger signal number 10," Malek said.
The beach is around 10-15 kilometres long stretching from the West to the East. The natural beauty of the new born beach is very similar to the sea beach in Cox's Bazar termed as the longest sea beach in the world. There are two types of sands in the beach, black and white. The black sand is called black gold for its richness in uranium. The upper side of the beach is covered with white sand and lower part is rich with black sand. The flocks of red crabs also become visible on the white sand in the upper side of the beach like Cox's bazaar.
There are many attractions in this newly borne sea beach for the visitors and nature lovers. The holiday goers can spend hour after hour watching numerous birds with various colours and characters flocking on the beach. The beach area is free from any sort of air and sound pollution. There is no road, no motor vehicles in Damar Char. You will not find even a single cycle or rickshaw here.
The vast grassland will soothe the eyes of the visitors. The nearby mangrove forest also has deer, fox and big snakes. Wildlife is seldom visible as animals hardly come out of the forest during the day time. But some signs of their coming out in the night are visible in the nearby fields.
The other virgin sea beach is around 15 km long and is located on a small island in the southern district of Bhola. This virgin beach is located between two prominent sea beaches in the country - Cox's Bazaar and Kuakata. Local people call it the Tarua sea beach. It is to the south of Dhalchar, which emerged in the Bay of Bengal not very long ago.
The island is around 40 km away from Char-fashion, the southernmost upazila of the district. The area is around 80 km away from Patenga sea beach in Chittagong by sea. Just two months ago, the people of Bhola did not know that such a beautiful beach had surfaced along the coast. The local administration is, however, yet to be aware of surfacing such a sea beach. As a result, the area remained almost undiscovered and neglected.
Maksudul Hasan Khan, chairman of Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC), has no knowledge about existence of any sea beach in Bhola district. "The district administration is yet to inform us about the surfacing of any sea beach in the district. He, however, did not rule out the possibility of coming out of any new sea beach in the area in the course of changing river route and developing new islands.
Asked about the process of identifying a new sea beach, Hasan said the ministry of land will first mark down the area and conduct a survey. "If it is identified as a sea beach then it might be handed over to the Parjatan Corporation for developing facilities for the tourists." The local people however said that the area could easily be made an attractive tourists spot through proper plans and development work by the government.
The route is not so difficult as described by the administration. There is a regular launch service between Kachapia in Char fashion and Dhalchar. The sea beach is only seven kilometers away from Dhalchar Ghat. So, one can go to Dhalchar by launch and then walk up to the beach. In February this year, a group of local journalists visited the island and discovered the sea beach. "It is still virtually untouched as hardly anyone knows about its existence," said Nazrul Haque Anu, the editor of a local daily. Anu was born and brought up in Bhola but had not even heard of Tarua earlier. He organised a trip for local journalists after hearing the news.
The journalists also took some snaps describing scenic beauty of the beach and surrounding areas. "I used to visit Dhalchar over the last 20 years for business, but did not know that there was such a beautiful beach here even a couple of months ago," said Mofizul Islam, a transport businessman of Char-fashion. There are several dozens of small and big islands in the area, but hardly any of these is blessed with such a long sea beach, he pointed out. "I often go to the area and it takes around two hours from the mainland by engine boat," Islam explained.
"If you go by speedboat the journey takes only half an hour from the mainland," he added. Mofizul Islam claimed that the local administration is not aware of the new sea beach or of other beautiful places in the area that foreign and local tourists can visit. He told this reporter that he imported a boat from the Netherlands to transport passengers from one island to another in the Bay of Bengal. It is very safe, with all sorts of life-saving equipment, he claimed.
The boat can carry 32 passengers at a time. Though he has applied for registration, the government is yet to grant permission for plying the boat and has not given any valid reason, he alleged. Nazrul Haque Anu said the beach could be an attractive tourist spot as it is very rich in natural beauty.
"If it is declared a tourist spot, this sea beach would be one of the prominent sea beaches in the country here, after Cox's Bazaar and Kuakata," Anu stated. According to him, the new beach is almost as beautiful as Cox's Bazaar and Kuakata. Like Kuakata, the sunrise and sunset can both can be seen from the sea beach. Hundreds of migratory birds visit the sea beach and surrounding areas during winter. The beach is not submerged even during high tide at the time of monsoon.
Half the island, however, is inundated during high tide at the time of monsoon. The mangrove forest behind the beach is an additional attraction for tourists. The beach and its surrounding area are safe for tourists as there are no wild animals in the island.
The tourists, however, can visit the mangrove forest in Dhalchar, where spotted deer, monkeys and buffaloes move around. Dhalchar is a union under Char-fashion upazila, with a population of around 10,000. Fishing is the main occupation here. There is a private hotel which can accommodate 10 visitors and a government rest house under the forest department.
The local people of Char-fashion demanded that the government should declare the area a tourist spot and undertake development work there for making it attractive to local and foreign tourists. The Char Kukri Mukri, some 40 km from Char-fashion, could be another tourist attraction. This small island, too, is blessed with natural beauty.
The island is surrounded by vast mangrove forest. Hundreds of spotted deer move around in the forest. There are also monkeys, big snake and other wild animals in the forest. The forest is however, free from any man eating animals like tiger. The virgin land in the islands is also covered by green grass. Bhola island is surrounded by large rivers and not connected by road or air. It is necessary to set up an airport in Bhola for ensuring speedy communication with the mainland, locals said.
For travelling quickly to Bhola, people have to go to Barisal by air and then to Bhola by speedboat. It takes around an hour from Barisal to Bhola by speedboat. Otherwise, only the river route offers the main mode of transportation from Bhola to other parts of the country. The newly introduced Bay cruise service between Dhaka and Barisal reduced the journey by river to four hours from 10-12 hours earlier.
The tourists can avail the journey as its standard is world class. The service is very punctual and comfortable. The tourists will also be able to enjoy the scenic beauty of the river Meghna and Kirtankhola as the service operates during day time. The other services on the route are in night.
The writer works with The Asian Age