St. Martin Island - THe Land of Paradise

St. Martin's Island is a small island in the northeast part of the Bay of Bengal, about 9 km south of the tip of the Cox's Bazar-Teknaf peninsula, and forming the southernmost part of Bangladesh.

I had been to this miraculous place this winter holidays by a sea truck with my parents, sister and grandfather. It was a lovely ship named 'Eagle' and it was a very fast sea vessel in which we made the journey to the heaven of enchantment. Throughout the journey we listened to ethnic Bangla songs like
'jao pakhi bolo tarey', 'nithua pathare nemechey bondhu rey dhoro bondhu amar keho neye'. I was listening to these local songs for the first time and they had a magnetic appeal and rhythm for my ears which were only used to English and Hindi music. To my utter surprise I was enraptured by the melody and lyrics so profoundly that for several weeks I found myself humming these tunes. After two and a half hours I could visualise the distinct and faint outline of a sandy land rising out of the azure sea. At first I only saw the jade green coconut treetops. Later I realised why this tiny island was called 'Narikel Jinjera' (Coconut Island) formerly.

When we finally disembarked from the ship I entered a long awaited paradise.Getting out of the jetty I saw that the only means of transportation were small 'thela gadis' or cycle vans with pieces of cloth tied above for shade. I was thrilled to sit on these vans as it was a totally different and new experience for me. It was hardly a three minute ride from the jetty to the hotel but I was a bit taken aback to see that the fare was quite high as we had to pay 100 takas for this mini ride.

I entered our hotel 'Prasad Paradise' with eyes brimming with anticipation. My sister and I were so restless that soon after a hasty lunch we raced to the beach where the most captivating sight awaited us. The smooth silky sand path led us to the beach, where the opal marine waters embraced the muddy soil. We felt as if we were in a daze and it seemed there was no other shore to the water. The water was a spectacular blue and its tranquility floated me away to paradise. The sweet smell of the salty water was lovely, while the sound of the rushing waves breaking to foam on the shore, was like melodious music to my ears. I tossed my hair over my shoulders as the cool wet breeze made it fly. I stood motionless and spellbound thinking of the bounty and wonder of God's creation. That afternoon I did not get wet as I was extremely tired after the long journey, so we went back to the hotel.

I went back and sat on a hammock. I felt elated. I could see the awesome sea from my hammock and I entertained my craving ears with the madrigals of the sea, and my nostrils were full of the aroma of the sea-pinks. I t was a rare moment. The ambience was out of this world- a unique moment which I have captured in the folds of my heart and memory.

Then came the night with its own majestic and mystifying glamour. The silvery swirling full moon, glittering like a huge jazzy diamond, swam on top of our heads while the rising shiny waters reached for us. The sun beds on the beach now became the moonlit beds .The union of the moon and the waves was a scene of par excellence. The water bathed in its sparkling beams and the silver plated, shimmery waves splashed and hit the shore with a terrific and musical force forming pearly suds. That was it for the night a scene of grandeur to last a life time. We strolled back to our hotel, had our dinner and went back to our bedrooms. But who could sleep with so much natural aura, and excitement around? My sister and I shared the same bay view bedroom, we could sit and savour the exquisiteness of the moonlit night, and hear the playful gurgling of waves. A mystery hung around the whole setting. I felt I was in a trance.

The next morning, before anyone woke up I rushed to the hammock and enjoyed the solitude to my heart's content. Then my mother and I planned to take a walk and enjoy the beauty of the early morning. After having breakfast in a way side hotel, we hired a 'thela gadi' we set out for a tour of the island. As I mentioned earlier I really loved the ride. It was a different feeling- so ethnic and unique. Next we went to 'Narikel Bagaan'and as we entered the place I understood why this island was previously called 'Narikel Jinjera'. History records say that the island was renamed St. Martin's Island in 1926 after the name of the District Collector of the British Government, Mr. Martin.

This place was a feast for the eyes.....a shady haunt where rows and rows of coconut trees laden with the heavenly fruit grew in abundance. We had the water of the green coconut. Never have I tasted such refreshing, sweet water. It was so soothing and sweet that it tasted even better than honey. As I drank I felt that as if the water was purifying me. Then we went back to the beach of 'Prasad Paradise'. In my opinion, the beach in front of this place is comparatively the best in the entire island.

This time I was determined to plunge myself fully in the aqua blue waters since this was the last day of our stay. I could not believe how time flew by. Before exploring the welcoming waves and a world of transparent blue clears I collected some exquisite and big shells which seemed to be even more precious than the priciest showpieces. Some young maidens were selling a few black and white fascinating corals. They were mysterious and attractive. I picked a white one and felt its sharp spikes and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. It was indeed a rare treat for the eyes.

To wrap up I can say that I was in search of heavenly bliss and my search ended in St. Martin's island. I did not know that Bangladesh had such a magnificent island. In this one night and two days I feel that I know this island for more than years can add up to. It welcomes me and I want to go back to it again and again. I have developed a special attachment for this island that words cannot describe. I miss St. Martin's island and feel that it has become an inseparable part of my mental psyche. Unfortunately uncontrolled tourism is invading and corrupting this blissful arcadia. Moreover, neglected coral status and lack of supervision of numerous ships which pollute the blue waters is leading the island towards destruction. Let us all pledge to preserve this price less treasure trove of rare coral species, marine turtles and the lovely flora and fauna which nature has so lavishly bestowed on us. It is high time we listen to the pleading voices of the natural habitats of this matchless idyllic haven.


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