Hakaluki Haor is the largest haor in Bangladesh, as well as the largest freshwater wetland in Asia. Located at the foothills of the Indian Meghalaya and Tripura hills, the haor covers five upazilas of Sylhet and Moulvibazar districts— Baralekha, Kulaura, Fenchuganj, Golapganj and Beanibazar.
The area of Hakaluki Haor is 20,400 hectares.
According to Banglapedia, there are 238 beels in Hakaluki Haor. Connected with 10 rivers, the Haor expands further during the monsoon. Thousands of migratory birds flock to Hakaluki Haor, which is rich in biodiversity, including many species of native fish, in winter. The chirping of the guest birds then makes the surroundings clamorous.
Table of Contents
Biodiversity in Hakaluki Haor
Different species of plants grow in the constant beels and reservoirs of Hakaluki Haor. It once had swamp forests like Ratargul too, a small one of which still survives on Chatla Beel. In fact, Hakaluki Haor is said to be a treasure trove of biodiversity. It is home to 526 species of plants, 417 species of birds and 141 species of other wildlife sanctuaries.
Hakaluki haor is full of fish. The beels in the haor are the natural habitat of 107 species of native fish. That is why fisheries scientists call this haor ‘The Mother Fishery’. There are also several rare species of fish. The haor area is mainly inhabited by professional and seasonal fishermen.
There are also a variety of reptiles and insects. Every winter, about 200 rare species of guest birds congregate at Hakaluki Haor. It is very tempting for tourists to see the waterfowl of these migratory birds.
Hakaluki Haor to be a Ramsar site
Bangladesh currently has two sites on the international ‘Ramsar‘ list, a joint effort to protect the global ecosystem: they are Sundarbans and Tanguar Haor. Now Hakaluki Haor is going to get the status of a Ramsar site. If it, the largest haor in Asia, is included in the Ramsar sites, it will play a more important role as a fish and bird sanctuary and in conserving plants and wetlands.
The Ramsar Convention is a concerted effort to protect the global aquatic environment. In 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar, many countries signed an international treaty called ‘the Convention on Wetlands’. A total of 158 countries, including the United States, later signed the agreement. The agreement aims to ensure the conservation of biodiversity-rich wetlands through international co-operation, highlighting their environmental, economic and recreational importance as a safe haven for aquatic birds and other animals.
Sundarbans of Bangladesh, rich in biodiversity, was recognized as a Ramsar site on May 21, 1992. Tanguar Haor in Sunamganj, a large freshwater wetland, was included in the Ramsar sites on January 20, 2000. Hakaluki Haor, the largest haor in Asia, is going to be included in the Ramsar sites as the third protected water body in Bangladesh after these two eye-catching places.
If you would like to visit two recognized Ramsar sites in Bangladesh, please check out these articles:
Travel time to Hakaluki Haor
If you would like to see migratory birds, November to February is the best time to visit Hakaluki Haor. At this time, the twittering of the guest birds makes the surroundings of the haor noisy. On the other hand, during the rainy season, the haor takes the shape of a sea. So if you want to enjoy the billowy Hakaluki Haor in the rainy season, you’ve to take a tour in June-August.
How to get to Hakaluki Haor
To travel from Dhaka to Hakaluki Haor, you’ll first reach Kulaura in Moulvibazar district. By renting an autorickshaw or rickshaw from Kulaura, you can reach the haor directly. Autorickshaw fare from Kulaura to Hakaluki Haor is 100-150 taka and rickshaw fare is 60-100 taka.
Dhaka to Kulaura by bus
To reach Kulaura from Dhaka, you can take a Sylhet-bound bus from anywhere in Dhaka city. Buses leave from Fakirapul, Gabtali, Sayedabad, Mohakhali and Abdullapur bus terminals in Dhaka city to Sylhet. Green Line Paribahan, Ena Paribahan, London Express and Golden Line Paribahan provide AC service on Dhaka to Sylhet route, with fares ranging from 700 to 900 taka from Dhaka to Kulaura.
However, most of the passengers travel on non-AC buses for affordable travel. Non-AC bus fares from Dhaka to Kulaura range from Tk 350 to Tk 400 per person. Popular non-AC buses on Dhaka to Sylhet route are Ena Paribahan, Hanif Enterprise, Shyamali Paribahan, Unique Service and Al-Mubaraka.
Would you like to know more about Dhaka to Sylhet bus? To get the fare list and ticket counter location and mobile number of all these buses, click here: Dhaka to Sylhet Bus: Ticket Price & Contacts.
Dhaka to Kulaura by train
To reach Kulaura from Dhaka by a train, you can choose Upaban, Jayantika, Parabat or Kalni Express train from Kamalapur or Airport Railway Station. Train ticket price will be 150 to 500 taka depending on the quality of the seat.
To know more about Dhaka to Sylhet train schedule and ticket price, please check it: Dhaka to Sylhet Train Schedule and Ticket Price 2020.
Upaban Express departs from Dhaka’s Kamalapur Railway Station for Sylhet at 08:30 PM (except wednesday) and leaves Kalni Express at 03:00 PM (excluding Friday). Take any Sylhet-bound intercity train on your convenient schedule and get off at Maizgaon station just before Sylhet station. Then Reach Fenchuganj Bazaar, just 1 km away from Maizgaon on foot or by autorickshaw.
After having breakfast at a restaurant in Fenchuganj Bazar, come to the boat dock and rent a boat. It can cost 3-4 thousand taka to rent a boat with a capacity of 10-15 people for a whole day. Then you’ll cross the Kushiyara River with that boat and enjoy the water cruise in Hakaluki Haor.
Where to stay
There are leaseholders’ cottages in Hakaluki Haor. With the permission of its owner, 2-4 people can spend the night in one of these cottages. Especially on a moonlit night when the moon shines and illuminates the haor, the experience of camping in a tent can be a memorable experience of your life. You can also spend the night in the neighboring upazila town of Baralekha. However, if you want to spend the night, you should also keep your safety in mind.
Where to eat
Talk to the boatman during the trip to Hakaluki Haor and do the necessary shopping, then the boatman will cook and feed you. You can also take biscuits, tea, bread, drinking water, etc. with you when you travel by boat. If you can manage someone who works in the Haor, you can have lunch with rice and fish with him at a low cost. Pure cow and buffalo milk is also available at low prices in the Haor.
Things to carry in Hakaluki Haor
A tent for camping, a raincoat, a large backpack, a jacket if it’s winter, shoes suitable for walking in mud-water, a towel, binocular, a camera, necessary batteries, power bank, dry food, torch and primary Medical equipment.