August 9, 2009

When I first saw the bungalow of Amtali Nature Resort, it reminded me of Rudyard Kipling’s jungle stories, both vestiges of our colonial past. The elephants at the nearby Lawachara National Park completed the picture from The Jungle Book – only Mowgli seemed to be missing. It could even have been a scene from Somerset Maugham’s Malay short stories. What a great place to bring nature, literature and adventure together. And all within 3 1/2 hours drive from Dhaka!

I can see myself walking through the green tea gardens in the morning mist and coming back to the bungalow for a cup of hot tea and biscuits. In the evening I can put up a hammock on the front porch, watch the sunset and read a delightful book. And I am told that at night you can get a campfire going and have your dinner cooked outside right in front of you. 

Amtali Nature Resort is the brainchild of my dear friend Mubir Chowdhury. We met exactly ten years ago in the corridors of Dhaka University, where we were both students of IBA and spent much of our days addafying outside Modhur canteen or singing songs in the gardens of TSC. (and, of course there were those days when a group of us would skip class to watch cricket at the stadium or runaway to Savar on Premium Bus.) 

Mubir’s family has owned Amtali Tea Gardens for over 25 years. His father established the tea garden, buying one hill at a time. Mubir, himself, is an avid traveler and adventurer. Every now and then he sends me his travel photographs; hiking up Keokradong, the highest point in Bangladesh; trekking in Bhutan; swimming in the blue waters of St. Martin’s. He is now planning a hiking trip through Lawachara National Park, which is 20km from Amtali. Sadly, Lawachara is quickly losing its trees, another victim of deforestation and greedy loggers. As Bangladeshis, it is our responsibility to save our trees and respect our natural resources.

Rema-Kalenga Wildlife Sanctuary, home to the Malayan Giant Squirrel, is nearby and those looking for high endurance trekking, Rema-Kalenga is the place for you. For a cultural experience, you can visit Khashi Poonji, the village of the Khashi indigenous people (but only after getting permission from the village headman). There are numerous places to explore while you are staying at Amtali: Baikka Beel, Madhavpur Lake, Jaflong, Satchari National Park, and Neelkantha Tea Stall, famous for its seven-layered tea at Srimongol town – a definite must-see!

As you tour Amtali through these gorgeous photographs, take a moment to breathe in the fresh air, feel the texture on the green tea leaves, and hear the songs of the tree birds.

Let  your senses come alive….

Labiba Ali, 2009


Srimongol, Sylhet
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images: all photographs are copyright of AMTALI NATURE RESORTS / MUBIR CHOWDHURY, except for photograph of Madhavkhundu from
graphic design, text  & captions: Labiba Ali for creativeBangladesh