|Bank of the Naf.|
North of Teknaf town, afternoon has reached sleepy Hnila’s Old Bazar, a few hundred metres west of the Naf River. There’s not much activity: most people are probably taking a rest after completing lunch.
|Sitting at the temple.|
We’re sitting in a perennial building site that’s half-flooded. It has planks of wood to balance across to venture inside. It’s here the local Hindu community worship and a good number of them are gathered in the front of the building just beyond the gate. They’ve arranged plastic stools from somewhere to sit on. A fruit platter is being passed around.
“This is the southernmost Kali temple in Bangladesh,” says community leader Bipul Pal. “It’s the only Kali temple south of Cox’s Bazar.”
The Naf River is narrower in Hnila. On its far bank the periodic watchtowers of Myanmar are clearly visible, about the only evidence of habitation along an otherwise wild bank. The common view of Myanmar to be heard in Teknaf’s tea shops seems to ring true here: “Myanmar has lots of land,” people say, “but little development.”
|The southernmost Kali Temple in Bangladesh, Hnila, Teknaf.|
|Touring Hnila with local Hindu leaders.|
The river wasn’t always the border it is today. In the British period then Burma was like Bengal under British administration; and the Teknaf Peninsula was primarily inhabited by Buddhist Rakhines. Bengalis by all accounts were rare. Hindus were rarer.
|Canal. Looking towards the Teknaf Range.|
“We are fifteen families,” concludes Pal after a moment’s mental count. “Hindu families in Hnila run simple businesses like dairies and tailoring shops.” At least one fulfils an administrative role with an NGO. “None of us is rich.”
|The Kali protima in Hnila Old Bazar.|
|Altar at the Radha-Krishna Temple.|
|Hindu monk. 'There are many words for water.'|
|Members of the small Hnila Hindu community at the forever ongoing reconstruction site of the historic Kali Temple.|