Just imagine!!! You are standing on an Island which is completely silent. There is no noise except the enchanting call of waves. Water is extending up to the last border of sight. Shiny sand is under your feet and you are observing the unearthly beauty of nature. If you want to enjoy such a quiet miraculous moment, you have to go to Nijhum Island, the hidden kingdom of Bangladesh.
The tranquility of the island of Nijhum makes people who are thirsty for travel instantly calm like nature. A cool serenity can be found in the moment in a clean environment. Standing on the beach of the island and seeing the vastness of the vast body of water, even the hard heart will become as soft as a paradise.
Not just beaches or water, the island is the home to countless Chitra deer. You can’t even imagine how much time has passed since you saw the deer roaming in front of your eyes. Your mind will be filled with the celebration of innumerable birds of different species. You will also get a chance to see numerous red crabs and turtles on the beach. The busy race of the red crab and the slow pace of the tortoise— two animals with two different characteristics will enchant you the whole time.
Location and Features of Nijhum Island
Nijhum Island is a small island in the Bay of Bengal. It is a union in Hatia upazila of Noakhali district. Consisting of Kamlar Char, Char Osman, Char Muri and Ballar Char, the island has an area of 14,050 acres. Nijhum Island has 9 clusters of villages. In addition to these cluster villages, there are some scattered small huts in Nijhum Island.
Nijhum Island is located two kilometers southwest of Hatia Upazila. Bangladesh government has declared the entire island a national park in 2001. An artificial mangrove forest has been created inside the island at the initiative of the forest department of Bangladesh. These forests have different types of trees including Keora and Bain trees.
You will find several Chitra deer inside the forest department office area. There is also a huge Watch Tower as well. The enchanting beauty of the surrounding nature can be seen from the watch tower. You will find another mangrove forest and tracking trail next to the forest department office. This forest also has Keora tree and Bain tree just like other forests.
There are also 43 types of shrubs and 23 types of other trees in the island. Three-quarters of the island is covered by dense forests. This silent island is known as the second largest mangrove forest in Bangladesh after the Sundarbans.
In these forests, 4 pairs of Chitra deer were released experimentally in 1986. At present the number of Chitra deer on the island is about 30,000. The density of Chitra deer per acre on the island is about three times that of the Sundarbans. Since there are no carnivores like tigers, deer are breeding rapidly. Apart from Chitra deer and buffalo, there are no other wild animals on Nijhum Island. So the islands and island forests are very safe for travelling.
There are about 35 species of birds on the island including various types of egrets, which are locally known as Nishi Bok, Desi Kanibok, Gobok, Gray Bok and so on. Kadakhoncha, Desi Pankauri, Balihans, Kalohans, Tila Lalpa, Tila Sabujpa are some other species of birds which will amaze you with their enchanting beauty. In addition, the island becomes sanctuaries of thousands of guest bird in winter. During winter, the whole island is abuzz with the chirping of birds.
A species of fish called “marsupari” is found on this island. It is an amphibian. This fish is 8-9 inches long in size and lives up to 5 years. During the monsoon season, fishermen of Nijhum Island catch a lot of hilsa from the estuary of Meghna. Then wholesale fishmongers from different parts of Bangladesh including Dhaka came to buy fish on Nijhum Island. In addition, in the winter season, a type of fish called “Chewwa” is found on Nijhum Island. Fishermen make shuntki (dried fish) from this fish which are mouth-watering in taste.
The residents here are very simple and religious. Everyone helps the tourists very sincerely. The little ones help as guides to explore the island. At the end of the day, they become happy to get paid of BDT50-100. There are several small markets on Nijhum Island. However, the biggest market here is ‘Namar bazar’. The islanders depend mostly on this market. Everyone spends all their daily expenses from this market. Necessary items for camping of tourists are also available at Namar Bazar.
The biggest problem you may have to face on Nijhum Island is problem of electricity. There is no electricity in this island. However, there is a system to charge mobile through solar power.
Naming and History of Nijhum Island
There is an interesting story behind the naming of this beautiful island. Nijhum Island was initially named ‘Char Osman’. Osman, a bathanian, brought his buffalo herd to the uninhabited island until the 1960’s. From then on, the name of this island became ‘Char Osman’. Char Osman was renamed as Nijhum Island by local government of Hatiya.
However, for the sandy soil of the island, fishermen call it ‘Sand Char’. The island was once known as ‘Baylor Dale’ or ‘Ballar Char’. Although it is now called Nijhum Island, locals still call it Baylor Dale or Ballar Char. Once upon a time, Nijhum Island was also called Ichhamati Island because a lot of Ichcha fish (shrimp) could be found around this island.
Topmost Tourist Attractions in Nijhum Island
For those who like trekking, Nijhum Island is calling with a huge opportunity. Choakhali can be an ideal place for forest trekkers. You can go trekking to the deepest part of the forest. Along the way you can see a huge herd of deer. However, be careful of breathing while tracking. And of course keep a small child with you as a guide because it is difficult to find path if it is lost in the deep forest.
Choyakhali beach can also be on your tour list. Numerous Maya deer can be seen here in the morning. This beach will amaze you with enchanting sound of birds’ chirping. In winter, Choyakhali beach becomes a paradise of guest birds as numerous migratory birds flock to this beach in winter. Notable among them are Rajsarali, Gadowal, Garadmatha swan, Dhalabele duck, Eurasian Sithi swan.
Watching the sunset with the chirping of thousands of birds and soaking your feet in the sand on the beach, it would seem that you have gone to some heavenly world. If you want to go here, you have to tell the biker the day before to bring you to Choakhali in the morning. Deer can be easily seen in the morning.
Komolar Dwip is located next to Nijhum Island. You can visit this small island with a trawler. The whole island can be roamed on foot. A few boxes of oranges floated to the island from the ship after the 1970 cyclone. Seeing the oranges lying there, it was named Komolar Dwip (Island of Orange). Komolar Khal (Orange Canal) is abandoned with hilsa fish.
Chowdhury Canal and Char of Kabiraj
The real beauty of Nijhum Island is inherent into a small island, locally well-known as ‘Kabiraj Er Char’ (Char of Kabiraj). You will definitely be amazed when you will enter this beautiful island through Chowdhury Canal. Basically, this small island is the home to numerous deer. So, if you want to see deer, it is necessary to come to Kabiraj’s char. This small island can be reached by trawler from the main island. You have to pay BDT 1000-1500 as boat fee for roaming. The trawler can carry 10 passengers at a time.
Namar Bazar Beach
Namar Bazar Beach is the nearest beach from Namar Bazar. You have to walk just 10 minutes from Namar Bazar in order to reach this beautiful beach. Walking on the beach will make you feel like the king of this state of nature as there are fewer crowds of tourists on this island. From here the horizon seems to awaken the vast expanse of water. You will be satisfied to see this beach thousands of years away from the noise.
Damarchar Kumari Beach
Most recently, Damarchar Kumari beach has come up on the shores of Damar in the Bay of Bengal. The beauty of Damarchar Kumari beach is no less than any other beach. To many of the tourists, this beach seems more attractive than that of Cox’s Bazar.
This unearthly beautiful Kumari beach is located on the southern edge of Damar Char, adjacent to Nijhum Island, adjacent to the Bay of Bengal. The simple locals of Nijhum Island call this picturesque beach ‘Deila’ or sand dune. Little did they know that it was actually a beach! If you want to come here, you have to reserve a trawler. Rent must be negotiated.
Camping in Nijhum Island
The biggest attraction of Nijhum Island is the camping facility, under the management of the forest department. You can have two people in one tent for only BDT 500. Camping facility is highly secured in Nijhum Island because forest department provides security guards for travellers. You will get night campfires and BBQ facilities with sea fish or rooster.
How to Go Nijhum Island
From Dhaka Sadarghat, you have to reach at Hatia by launch. You have to get down at Tamruddin Ghat of Hatia and take a motorbike to Moktaria Ghat. Rent of motorbike will be around BDT 200 per person. From Moktaria Ghat you have to go by trawler to Nijhum Island. Here you have to pay BDT 25 per person.
Accommodation at Nijhum Island
There are several resorts and hotels to stay on Nijhum Island. You will get modest services from these hotels and resorts.
Food in Nijhum Island
You will find a few small restaurants in Nijhum Island where lunch and dinner are available. Although those are small restaurants, you will get fresh foods there. The specialty of cooking in this island is that everyone cooks with wood. The food list here includes coral fish, hilsa fish, shrimp fish and several marine fish. These will cost between BDT 80-100.You can get delicious green coconut on the island for only BDT 25-30. Don’t forget to eat those green coconuts.