At least 500-1,000 people come to visit here, with a boatman earning Tk500-2,000 per day during the season
The farther you see, the more you feel as if the water is on fire.
The red sun's first rays on multitudes of pink petals, being tossed in the gentle breeze, seem to be getting the blaze in a state of excitement.
Amid this sizzling magnificence will the oar of a small boat sing you a crackling song of water.
You will, for sure, sink into the "pink"charms of Lal Shapla Beel –a slice of heaven on earth located in Satla of Uzirpur in Barishal district.
The 1,200-acre wetland, which nature paints with thousands of bloomed water lilies of pink colour for five months every year, has become a destination for hundreds of visitors from home and abroad.
Actually, it is vast plain land that remains under waist-deep water from June to October each year due to the rainy season. Farmers cannot grow anything during this period, apart from farming fish.
But they have no complaint as the beel (wetland) compensates them, offering an opportunity to them to earn some additional money. During the tourist season, they change into the role of boatmen to help visitors enjoy the beel's glamour.
The beel looks very beautiful at dawn when thousands of lilies bloom and remain in the full of life until the sun becomes brighter. Tourists come here throughout the day.
"The scenery is really very beautiful and attractive here. We often lose ourselves in it," said Mohidul Islam, a university student who came here from Dhaka along with his friends.
"I could not believe it until I saw the beauty with my own eyes. It seems nature has poured all her beauty on the beel by adorning it with thousands of blossomed lilies," said Ishrat Jahan, another tourist from Dhaka.
Sitting on a moving boat, she touched and plucked a flower and put it into her chignon, she said.
However, plucking the flowers needlessly and throwing them away into the beel water often hurts the boatmen who depend on the wetland for their livelihood during the tourist season.
"Often visitors pluck lilies and later throw them away into the water or on the roads. It pains us.We request them to not pluck them but they do not pay heed to our requests," said Rafiqul, a boatman.
It diminishes the beauty of the beel, he added.
There are some other beels adjacent to the Lal Shapla Beel. Thousands of white lilies are seen there. The white variety sells as a food item at different markets in the neighbourhood, said Abdul Barek, one of the owners of the wetland.
Many children on small boats are seen plucking white lilies in the early morning,but red lilies cannot be used as food. So, it does not sell in the market.
The beautiful Shapla Beel was in darkness until visitors started to come here. A journalist brought the place to light around eight years ago, according to local famers and boatmen.
Olyullah, a farmer and boatman, said the journalist, whose name he could not recall, was going along the beel to somewhere else. Suddenly, beautiful red lilies caught his eyes and he stopped. He hired a boatman to see the red lilies closely and enjoy the beauty.
He roamed around for two hours on the boat and took lots of photographs and videos which he later uploaded on different media and published in newspapers, said Oly, adding the journalist paid Tk500 to the boatman for the trip.
Learning about the wetland's splendour, reporters from different print and electronic media came to visit it and published reports in their respective media outlets, according to Oly.
Then visitors started coming to the spot in small numbers. However, the number of visitors has been rising rapidly for the last few years, he added.
At least 500-1,000 people come to visit here regularly from different parts of the country and also from abroad, according to the boatmen.
There are three ghats in the beel from where visitors can get on and off boats.Two of them are for boats bound for the white lily beel and the other is for going to the red lily beel.
Around 40-50 well decorated boats with good sitting arrangements wait at the ghats for tourists. A boatman earns around Tk500-2,000 daily, said Kabir Mia, another boatman of the red lily beel.
Some local people sell different types of breakfast there, including khichuri, biryani, etc, and earn a handsome amount too.
The number of visitors has been rising rapidly for the last few years.
The spot is located around 60 kilometres away from Barishal town.Visitors said they have to endure a tiresome journey all the way because of damaged roads.
Moreover, the tourist spot has no washroom and resting place, often putting visitors in trouble.
Tourists have to reach the place very early in the morning and often need washroom facilities, said Nasir, a boatman.
If some modern facilities, including washrooms and resting places, are added here, the number of tourists will be increased, said local shopkeeper Raton Bishwash.
The district administration has a plan to construct the facilities in the tourist spot, informed Ajior Rahman, deputy commissioner of Barishal.
The plan was sent to Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation last year, and it was approved then, he said, adding that the implementation has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.