A visit to Dumboor Lake was special. It will stay in my mind as one of the most difficult and rewarding experiences of my travels.
I had almost given up! I had come so close to it. The difficult road conditions and sparse transport system were beginning to take a toll on my adventure spirit. Damboor Lake was 115 kms from Agartala. It didn't look much. I took a bus to Udaipur and then to Amarpur. From there Dumboor was just 34 kms away at my grasp. But there were no direct taxi or bus services, which put me in a confused state. I asked few of the locals, who admitted they had never been close to the lake. Few suggested me that I go to Gandachera, some 30 kms from Amarpur. I took a beaten-up jeep, squeezed in with nine other people. When it comes to shared taxis, Indians have very poor knowledge of calculating how many people can actually fit. They try to put as much as they could.
When I reached Gandachera I started looking for taxis leaving for Dumboor Lake, only to find out few minutes later that no shared taxis ever go to Dumboor Lake. There were people willing to take me on reserve basis but then, I found there was no place to stay. I headed back to the taxi point, and booked a ticket for Amarpur again. By then I was getting frustrated with the whole journey and my quest for Dumboor Lake that now seemed like a mythological place, something that doesn't exist in reality.
On the way back our jeep punctured, which was understandable. By the time we returned to Amarpur the sun had already set. I asked around for the Tourist Guest House and was so relieved when I checked into a decent room. On my travels in North East, the State run Tourist Lodge has come in a lot handy. These are cheaper than most private hotels and a lot better.
After a good rest, I headed straight to the bus stop and sat on a bus leaving for Jatanbari. It is around 20 kms from Amarpur. It is a small town, in a true sense the last town. From here, there are now big towns but few scattered villages until it reaches Dumboor Lake at the international border with Bangladesh.
At Jatanbari, I left my luggage in the care of a shopkeeper near the taxi stand. There are no shared taxis to Dumboor Lake but vehicles go as far as Tirthamukh, a hydel power plant. It is where Gomati River, the largest river in Tripura originates. Surprisingly, the locals used the Nano as taxis. I seriously didn't know that a Tata Nano could accommodate 8-9 people.
Dumboor Lake is a good half an hour drive from Tirthamukh. Vehicles go there only on hiring basis alone. After a half-hour drive, we reached a small village on the edge of the lake. But here, the lake is seen only as a small inlet. There were boats nearby, but no boatman. The motor boat needs the labor of two men; one to stir the engine and one to pour water into the engine. There were three more guys from Agartala, who had come to visit the lake. We waited for 2 hours for the boatman's return but to no avail. So we persuaded the lone boatman, that we would help him out.
We navigate through the inlet for almost one hour before reaching the vast body of water. There were houses on the shore of the lake and villages dispersed around the Lake. There are 48 islets inside the lake. The lake got its name from its shape, which looked tabour-shaped drum of Lord Shiva. The lake covers an area of 41 sq. km. and is home to many migratory birds. Locals who lived around the lake are dependent on the lake for their livelihood. We passed a lot of fishermen on their boats.
Dumboor Lake is strikingly beautiful. The cerulean lake and the many islands with full-grown trees complement each other to perfection. The lake is so vast that it looked like a sea at some point. You could see boats floating on the lake at distance like small plods.
After more than an hour, we stopped at one of the bigger islands. It was an inhabited place except for a makeshift shop set up by the locals under the shade of a huge tree. There we had tea and some snacks. A little further into the land we were greeted by tall palm trees. Our boatman pointed out that it was once a coconut farm run by the government but now abandoned and uncared for.
The lake is little known and it has an immense scope for tourism. There are no hotels around the Lake right now and it is one of the most difficult places to reach. All that could change with a little promotion from the State Tourism Department.
We did not come back the same route, but took a short cut. There were so many islets in the lake. We navigated through small water bodies sometimes as small as a 3-4 metres canal. At one point we had to all go down and push along a shallow and narrow canal. It was altogether a new experience.
How to Reach:
Take a bus or taxi to Jatanbari and hire a Nano for Dumboor Lake (to and fro) for around Rs. 500.
Dumboor Lake covers a huge area and it is impossible to see without taking a motor boat ride which charge around Rs. 1,500 for a to and fro ride.
Where to Stay:
There are no hotels or guest house near Dumboor Lake. But one can stay at the newly built Tourist Lodge at Jatanbari.