Ratargul swamp forest is Bangladesh's only recognized swamp forest which is located in Sylhet. This swamp forest is about 26 kilometers away from Sylhet Sadar. The location of this forest is in Fatehpur union of Gowainghat Upazila on the border of Sylhet district.
Goyain River, which flows down from Meghalaya on the north and a huge Haor in the south. Ratargul is in the middle. According to Wikipedia's data, there are only 22 swamp forests in the world. Only two in Indian sub continent, one is in Sri Lanka and another one is our Ratargul swamp forest.
This very beautiful huge forest is compared to the only Amazon. Amazon although known as Rainforest but is the world's largest swamp forest. Ratargul is just like the Amazon but smaller in size.
Murta or Pati tree is known as Rata tree in local Sylhet language. According to the name of the tree, this forest has been named Rataragul. Like Amazon, most parts of the.There is almost always water in the monsoon season (May - September).
Best time to visit in Ratargul: Rainy season (May-September) is the best time to visit. The forest looks really different in the rainy season. The water is submerged to the waist height. Little trees are submerged in half of the body, in the water. You can see lots of fishermen fishing with their nets. Forest looks like dark as there are lots of trees. You need to be very careful if you visit in rainy season as there are lots of snakes in the forest. Due to huge water all over the forest, most of the snakes live in the tree.
In winter the forest looks like another typical forest, the leaves become dry. And the small canals become a rural road. And then the aquatic creatures are sheltered in the lonely large docks of the forest department.
Size of Ratargul: According to forest department- the size of this forest is 325.61 acres. Of these 504 acres of forests was declared wild animals sanctuary in 1973. There are about 25 species of hybrid plants in this forest. Though it is a natural forest department has planted various watery plants including Bet, Kadam, Hijal, and Murtas. Poisonous and not poisonous both types of snakes are here. During the rainy season, water is entered into the forest and these snakes get up on the trees.
Animals: In the forest, various species of wild animals like Mesobaagh, Squirrel, Monkeys, Mongoose, snake and worm snake and Fox will be seen. Tengra, Batasio, Rita, Khailisha, Ritha, Pabda, Maya, Aair, Kalbaush, Rui and many more fishes are found in this forest. Among the birds are the heron, dove, water fowl, eagle, kite swan, kingfisher, parrot, cotton pygmy goose and other migratory birds.
Plants: More than seventy-three species of plants are available in the forest. Among them, Murta also known as the cool mat is the main tree. Hijal and banyan tree is common in the forest. In the south of the forest, the Murta trees will be seen. The forest department has set up a large part of the Murta tree commercially. Murta is used for making mats.
Experience of seeing trees lying beneath the transparent water of Haor in the rainy season is simply awesome. In the winter the forest is different. You can walk through the forest and it looks like a typical village road.
To enter the forest, you have travel by boat which is called Dingi in the local language. Once the boat is in the forest and there is no sound! Two words will take you to express your feelings, you will say, "I am fascinated"! And the Bonus will be an excellent way to enter the forest through Gowain River, especially in the rainy season. Apart from this, along with the scenery around the river, you will see the tall green hills of Mizoram in India.
How to go to Ratargul Swamp forest Sylhet: There are several ways to go to Ratargul and you have to go from Sylhet. The first way: from Sylhet to Jaflong: reaching Gowainghat directly through Sarighat on Tamabil road. After that, you have to hire a trawler to reach Ratargul Bit office from Gowainghat. Trawler rent is between 900 – 1500 Taka (both way) and takes two hours. After reaching Bit office hire a boat and enter the forest, boat rent is 200-300 Taka per hour.
The second way is to reach Gowainghat with CNG from Amberkhana point of Sylhet, rent will be 500 Taka. Osmani Airport to Shalutikar this road is very beautiful, especially in the rainy season. Then rent a trawler from Gowain Ghat to Rataragul Bit office, rent between 800-1500 Taka (both way) and takes two hours. Ater reaching Bit office you need to a rent a boat and cost will be 200-300 Taka per hour.
In other ways, you can reach Ratargul- from Sylhet's Amberkhana point to Motorghat (via Saheb Bazar) with CNG, it will cost 200-300 Taka and it will take an hour. Then go straight to the forest with a dingy boat from Motor Ghat, it will cost 200-300 Taka per hour. This is the time and money saving route.
Caution: There is no better hotel or lodging for night stay or dinner. So you can take food from Gowainghat or Sylhet. Another thing, it is better not to touch the water while riding in the boat.
There are also many leftover insects, the poisonous snakes in the rainy season are found in the water or in the tree. It is important to keep a life jacket if you don't know swimming.
Apart from this, you have to take an umbrella, cap or sunny hat. Here the boats are very small. Don't visit more than five people in a single boat. Another thing- Please do not drop the polyethylene, bottle, chips, biscuits, etc in water. We have the responsibility of protecting our own natural resources. Good luck and happy journey to Ratargul swamp forest.