The beautiful “Bichanakandi” is located 25 kilometres north of the city of Sylhet, Bangladesh. As with most of our trips in and around Bangladesh, this was also planned very last minute and within two days. And, as always, we set off on a Thursday evening, with the intention to return by Sunday morning for work.
We departed Dhaka by boarding our bus at Panthapath, bound for Sylhet. We started off around midnight from Dhaka and reached Sylhet town around 6 in the morning, with a 45 minute mid-way journey interval. Tickets were cheap (I don’t remember the exact cost, but they did not exceed 500 Taka per person) and the journey was relatively comfortable with reclining seats. Upon reaching the outskirts of Sylhet in the morning, we then boarded three “rickshaws” (since there were six of us) and made our way to the famous “Paanch Bhai Restaurant” for an early breakfast.
Once we were done with breakfast, we asked the waiter at the restaurant how we could get to “Jaintahill Resort” near Bichanakandi. The waiter very helpfully gave us directions towards a local bus that would depart in half an hour, and also wished us luck. We boarded the bus and quickly settled into our seats (the fare was 50 Taka for each of us; I decided to pay 100 Taka and take two seats so that I could relax on my way there).
Our first look at Jaintahill Resort was like looking into the face of bliss. The 6 of us quickly spoke to the management and they suggested the best room they had for us – a large room on the very top floor, containing 3 double beds which would be ideal for the 6 of us.
After freshening up and resting for an hour (we didn’t want to overly tire ourselves and the all night journey wasn’t helping), we decided to check out our options for our next stop: the amazing destination of Bichanakandi.
We went down to the resort restaurant to grab some coffee and the manager kindly made a few calls and arranged our transport – a small “Tuk-tuk” (a mode of public transport, enough for the 6 of us). The driver also had a very younger ‘helper’, who happily answered all our questions, whilst getting caught up in our excitement as well.
The journey was absolutely gorgeous! The sky was overcast, which meant that the weather was cool and refreshing and it only added to the mystique of the place. In a couple of hours (although it felt like no time at all), we reached the boat terminal where the next part of our journey was to commence.
There were a number of boats present at the boat terminal and, after communicating our wish to hire one, we started negotiating a price. We finally settled on a large boat which offered us a quote of BDT 3,000. Thereby, without further ado, we started off on our way.
The journey itself was beautiful. It was serene, quiet and extremely peace in the middle of the water with no noise except the boat engines. However, to our chagrin, we soon found out that our boat was (in all likelihood) probably the slowest boat in the world. We decided to climb to the top of the boat and enjoyed the views as we glided past and other boats constantly overtook us.
Our initial plan was to visit both Bichanakandi and another location called “Panthumai”, but judging from the speed of the boat, that seemed less and less likely to be doable. Along the way we saw many other boats collecting stones from shallow areas of the riverbed. Our boatmen, upon inquiring, informed us that these rocks were being collected for the purpose of being ground up into cement and construction materials. He also told us that every year the number of rocks decreased and that Bichanakandi was much more beautiful in the previous years. It is really sad how commercialization is gradually ruining such a gorgeous place – but then I suppose that’s reality.
After what seemed like an eternity (although in reality it may have been just 3-4 hours), we finally reached our destination. Our boatmen pointed out the exact portion we were allowed to explore and warned us about the India Bangladesh border, which we could not cross. The Bichanakandi waterfall was unfortunately on the Indian side of the border, so we couldn’t venture and explore it. But boy, did we frolic in the waters and rocks on the Bangladesh side of the border!
After an hour of frolicking, it was time again for the tireless long boat journey back. We all draped ourselves on the top of the boat – some of us took a nap (I did!), some of us sang, whilst others just stared at the scenery in deep contemplation.
Back at the boat terminal, we paid the boatmen and returned to our waiting Tuktuk and started our journey back to Jaintahill Resort. Our little Tuktuk helper provided wonderful entertainment along the way by narrating the local horror stories of the region.
By the time we reached Jaintahill Resort, it was around 8.30 p.m. After a brief stop at the restaurant (where we placed our orders for dinner), we rushed up to our room to have showers and change up. Dinner was a modest but delicious affair – we were served the traditional Bangladeshi fare of fried eggs, chicken curry with rice and daal (lentils). We also devoured a separate plate of noodles. Yours truly was starving by the time so there are no pictures of the food. Sorry, not sorry!
Post dinner activities included a game of cards and lights out by 11 p.m. After the day we had, sleep came easily and I slowly drifted off to sleep with a satisfied and content smile on my face, the rushing sounds of the three waterfalls gently lulling me off to dreamland.