32 hours in Khulna
Khulna is home to the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world. The Sundarbans are home to the Royal Bengal Tiger. That makes Khulna the city of tigers. It might seem like an exaggeration and it is to some extent. But the moment you enter Khulna, you are welcomed by a tiger sculpture and you know instantly where you are (in any case if you are from Bangladesh, you do).
I travelled to Khulna in a AC night coach in December. At 2am, the bus boarded the ferry. I went up to the top deck of the ferry. Merlin’s Beard! The cold wind cut through my face. I shielded myself instantly using the mask & the muffler and would have preferred to stay there and enjoy the weather but my travel partners showed no enthusiasm. We reached Khulna at 6 in the morning. It was freezing. We quickly got a CNG to our hotel. We, a bunch of sleepy people sat in the lobby of a 4 star hotel waiting for keys so that we could go to our rooms and get an hour of sleep before heading out to work.
I was in bed and asleep as soon as I entered my room. Five minutes later (or that’s what it felt like), I was awakened by my buzzing phone. It was time to head out for work. Anyway, we had a lot of work related activities to do through out the day but I am not going to bore you with details. Rather, let me tell you about the places I visited and the food I ate in whatever free time we got. And no, we didn’t visit the Sundarbans.
Mrinalini Devi’s Home
Rabindranath Tagore’s wife Mrinalini Devi’s childhood home was in Khulna’s Dakkhindihi. The poet’s mother and grand-mother also belonged to Khulna. Safe to say, this place has special connections with the Nobel laureate. Mrinalini Devi’s home, a two-storeyed ‘mini’ masion now serves as a museum called Rabindra Complex. The museum houses hundreds of books on and of Rabindranath as well as rare of pictures of the family to whom the house belonged. The collection is not dazzling. However, it is a place of historic value. Tagores have been important people of Bengal. Where the wives of the Tagore men came from and what sort of surroundings they grew up or got married in are valuable information for Tagore enthusiasts like me.
Khulna University of Engineering & Technology (KUET)
We drove through an empty KUET campus just for the sake of it. The campus was deserted probably because of a student protest. I discovered the sculpture ‘Durbar Bangla’ in KUET campus. I had read about this sculpture and it was as neat as I had imagined. The sculpture is a tribute to the freedom fighters of Bangladesh.
The Highway Eatery
After our work was over for the day, we drove to a BBQ restaurant situated beside the Khulna highway at 9pm. When we reached the place for dinner, the last of the guests were leaving. We had the place to ourselves, so we took the liberty of taking pictures here and there and even enter the live kitchen where chicken and fish were being grilled for dinner.
This restaurant is an unique one. Customers are allowed to have a look at the fish stocked in the refrigerator to make the choice of which fish to grill. It was one unique culinary experience as we selected the fish, then watched as the chef marinated it & covered with spices before placing it on the grill. The grilled fish and chicken tasted amazing. Along with salad and porota, it stood out as one delicious dish.
Khan Jahan Ali Bridge over the Rupsha River
Rupsha is one of the famous rivers of Bangladesh. The bridge over it connects the southern districts of the country to Mongla Port. Rupsha river flows as Pashur River near the Sundarbans and then finally flows into the Bay of Bengal.
Due to lack of time, we were not able to have a good look around Rupsha River. We drove across the bridge and mostly caught glimpses of the famous river of Khulna. We only managed to get down from the car for five minutes to take a couple of photos to keep as memory. We were told that the bridge looks its best at night with all the colorful lights on.
I am guilty of loving sweets. Sweet is one thing I never shy away from tasting, and I do so in the hope of encountering a delicious treat. In Khulna, I had the good fortune of being introduced to a sweet called ‘Shorpuria’. If I ever get to visit Khulna again, I will definitely bring back a box full of ‘Shorpurias’.
My Khulna trip was very short and involved long hours of travel including a 12hrs long return journey, courtesy of a long weekend. While in Khulna, I was super busy with field work and office work. I reckon we spent only a total of 3hrs behind all the excursions mentioned here.