Easily referred to as Bangladesh’s ‘little Darjeeling’, Srimongol is home to some low-rising hills and dozens of tea plantations scattered across the landscape. These are best explored by bicycle and allow one to reconnect with the peaceful and quiet landscape of Bangladesh, one that is truly secluded from the rest of the country. Srimongol is also home to two precious nature reserves: the Lawacharra Reserve Forest and the Rema-Kalenga Wildlife Sanctuary. Lawacharra has a tiny but significant population of Hoolock Gibbons which without the efforts of conservation and eco-tourism would probably be extinct by now.
Srimongol town is the main transport hub for Sylhet and Dhaka but the best places to stay are a few kilometres outside town towards Kamalganj (see Travel Advice for how to get there). In terms of activities, exploring the Lawacharra Reserve Forest by foot or bicycle is the best way to enjoy the natural beauty of this region, although those equipped with a motorcycle will surely enjoy exploring the back roads and dirt tracks that snake around the area. The Nilkantha Tea Cabin (Ramnagar (Munipuripara); mob: 01716 969797) is another must-see in Srimongol. When owner Ramosh Ram Gour invented 5-layer tea, he probably didn’t know that it would eventually become famous around the world. Nowadays, he guards the secret with his life – only he & his son possess the knowledge to make this now famous brew.
With an increasing amount of visitors wandering around the tea estates, they aren’t as easy to tour as they used to be. Again, it is best to hire a Nishorgo guide to facilitate an introduction through a connection they may have, as opposed to walking up to gates unannounced. The real tea tasters will probably want to start by contacting the Bangladesh Tea Research Institute.
Travelling by train is easily the best and simplest way to get to Srimongol from Dhaka and/or Chittagong as the timings are quite convenient, even for a weekend visit. (The night train timings are terrible, however, as they are geared to get people to Sylhet early in the morning.) From Dhaka, it is easiest to catch the morning or afternoon train (06.40 or 14.00) from the Airport Station. On your return to Dhaka, your choices are the 09.45 or 16.49 train — both of which are normally running late from Sylhet. The Dhaka bus counters are located in town across from the Noor Foods restaurant, although these will drop you at the southern end of the city at Dhaka’s Sayedabad bus terminal, forcing you to cross the city again if your ultimate destination is Gulshan or Banani. Once again, the train is the best option!