Paddle steamer 21 hours journey from, Dhaka to Moralganj.
The paddle steamers leave Dhaka at 7.30 pm 4 days a week on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays (Wednesday goes to Mongla via Khulna). There are 4 members of our team in this tour. Everyone except Pavel has already arrived at the dock. There are only 2 minutes left until 8.30 am. The paddle steamer is not a one-minute government man again. There was a thought in my eyes, just then Pavel was running with the platoon pushing the crowd. As soon as he got on the steamer and let out a sigh of relief, he blew a whistle and said goodbye to the busy city. This time he will have to cross 7-8 districts, about 15 rivers.
Non-AC cabin at the rear of the steamer on the second floor, deck class in the middle, AC cabin at the front, and VIP deck at the very front. The VIP deck is basically the front of the steamer, with some chairs, empty on three sides. The best view of the trip is available from here. Deck passengers are not allowed to enter here. We left our bags in the cabin and left first to call the VIP to see the beauty of the two banks of the Buriganga. And yes, if you want to travel in a cabin, you must buy a ticket in advance. Tickets for AC cabins can be purchased from the office of “BIWTC” at Banglamatar and tickets for non-AC cabins can be purchased from Sadar Ghat or online at sohoz.com. Rent from Dhaka to Moralganj: Deck Tk. 280, First Class AC Cabin Tk. 3715 (two beds), Second Class Non AC Case Tk. 2100 (Two Beds).
This traditional vehicle also has a reputation for food. If you want to eat in the canteen here, you have to order first. Let’s cook after ordering. So we order dinner at 7 pm. Select the menu, the famous khichuri here. And I also order dinner and breakfast.
Leaving Narayanganj on the left and Munshiganj on the right after crossing the Buriganga, Lepcha crossed the Dhaleshwari and Shitalakshya and reached Meghna. Let’s see the beauty of Meghna in the dim light of the broken moon with the clear air of Meghna. We don’t know the history of paddle steamer.
A few pedal steamers still survive around the world, of which 4 are in Bangladesh. PS Lepcha, PS Turn, PS Mashud, PS Ostrich. The ostrich has already left the fleet due to age. Mashud, Lepcha, and Turn still survive. Of these, two steamers, the Mashood and the Ostrich were built at the Garden Rich Workshop in Calcutta in 1926 and 1936, respectively. These have been in circulation for almost a hundred years. During the British rule, they maintained communication between Dhaka-Barisal, Barisal-Goalanda. These steamers were called steamers because they ran on steam produced by coal. These were later converted to diesel. At one time it was the fastest so it was called a rocket steamer. These steamers, which used to cross the river during the British period, are still operating in independent Bangladesh after crossing the Pakistan period.
10.45 pm Leaving the Padma on the right, PS Lepcha made its first stop at the steamer wharf along the Meghna, Dakatiya river estuary. As soon as the steamer crowded at Chandpur Ghat, the passengers started getting up. Many are getting on the steamer in small boats without using the jetty to avoid the crowds or get up earlier. It had the highest number of passengers from Chandpur. There is no place to set foot. Most of the passengers from here come to Chandpur by Meghna Express train from Chittagong and travel by this steamer to Barisal, Pirojpur, and other places in South Bengal. After a break of exactly 30 minutes, he left Chandpur, the city of Hilsa, and his next destination was Barisal. Leaving Chandpur, Lepcha is now floating in the huge chest of Meghna where only water is in sight.
12 o’clock at night. Sleep in the state of two eyes. I am sitting on the veranda of the steamer with a blanket. The cool air flowing from Meghna’s chest is trembling. And at such a time maybe you are making a fuss in Dhaka. The fading light of the broken moon in the sky has taken on the color of the strange light reservoir in the waters of the Meghna whose intoxication is not allowing me to go to the cabin.
It’s six o’clock in the morning. I woke up on the veranda of the cabin. And Lepcha said goodbye to Barisal on the way to Jhalokati through Kirtankhola river. I called the morning tea and stood in front. Waiting for the Gabkhan channel. Lepcha then stopped at Jhalokati, Kaukhali Ghat on the way to Gabkhan Channel.
Lungi is our traditional dress. What are you thinking?
What is the relation of paddle steamer with lungi again? Wait. Since it is a traditional vehicle and lungi is our traditional clothing, I thought I would spend the rest of the time on the steamer after wearing a little lungi. According to the decision, I left the lungi and called the VIP. After the lungi, I stood beside the railing of the deck, thinking of framing myself in the camera. I looked back and saw a tourist couple from Paris, France, standing beside me to take pictures with me. The only reason to take pictures with me is but my lungi. Because they also know that it is the traditional dress of our country. And one of the purposes of roaming them is to find the heritage of a country. He even wore the traditional dress of another country (I don’t remember the name of the country). Which he bought during his travels there.
I am standing in front of the call. Lepcha is slowly entering the Gabkhan channel from the Bishkhali river. Many also call it Gabkhan River but it is basically a man-made canal that is used as a naval route. It was excavated in 1917 as it connected the Sugandha-Bishkhali of Jhalokati with the Sandhya river of Pirojpur. Its length is about 18 kilometers. The distance of Dhaka-Mongla waterway for this canal is about 120 km
Decreases like. The beauty of this channel flowing through the green trees will fascinate you like me.
10.30 am This time the journey stops at Hularhat Ghat. All the foreign tourists in the steamer landed at this wharf. The distance from here to Khulna by road is less. Most of their destinations are Khulna by road.
At 2.30 pm, the sun is shining on my head. I am sitting in the extra space next to the driving room on the roof of the lepture. The sun is not shining here because of the shadow of the driving room. Charkhali – Bara Mashua (Mathbaria), after a 30-minute journey break at Sannyasi Ghat, Lepcha is now on its way to Moralganj via Baleshwar River. The river here is quite wide. Cool air even in the scorching sun. As if sitting here is not a few hours, even if you travel for a few days in a row, there will be no annoyance.
3.30 pm Lepcha is slowly crowding at Moralganj Ghat. Alhamdulillah, after a 21-hour relaxation tour from Dhaka, we are now in Moralganj. A handful of passengers landed here. And we are probably the only passengers coming directly from Dhaka. Now we have to rush to Khulna by bus because the night train to Dhaka Sundar Bon Express is waiting for me at Khulna station.
These traditional paddle steamers will probably drop out of the fleet any day due to age. This is the only place where foreign tourists come every day. Syed Mujtaba Ali, Queen Elizabeth, Rabindranath Tagore, Jibanananda Das, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Mahatma Gandhi, who did not travel in it? Then why aren’t you before it closes? The decision is yours!
(Avoid throwing indigestible polythene waste in the river while sitting on the paddle steamer)